15. There Be Alligators!

Sure, across Nassau Street from 55 Liberty Street stands the hefty Federal Reserve, an imposing Game of Thrones–like fortress literally filled with billions of the world’s lucre. Who needs it! Let us cast our eyes instead upon the mischievous carved alligators that adorn the doorway of this graceful, slender tower. Why might they be smiling?

One possible clue: It was on this very spot that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded by Henry Bergh (6) in 1866.

For decades this building was the headquarters of Sinclair Oil, instigators of the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s that almost brought down Warren G. Harding’s presidency. Their famous mascot is a green dinosaur named Sinclair, a distant ancestor of these alligators here. (55 Liberty Street)

(6) The roots of Mr. Bergh’s other great contribution to American life can be found in Chapter 16.