NYC UFO Tugboat Abductions: New York’s most obscure events remembered in artworks

Manhattan’s statues invite visitors to question events, as artist Joe Reginella commissions a series of sculptures commemorating New York’s most obscure “events”.

On the evening of July 13 1977, the lights in New York City went out.

The New York Blackout is an event that has featured in plays and films, and in the mythology of the American metropolis. However, while New Yorkers were struggling with the switches, there were another set of lights which will now go down in history.

In Battery Park, a statue has been erected to one of the city’s strangest episodes:

“On July 13 1977 during the infamous New York City Blackout the crew of the Tugboat Maria 120 mysteriously disappeared” reads the plinth dedicated to those souls who were abducted while investigating mysterious lights in the city harbour.

Stranger still, on top of the plinth is a statue of a sailor, eyes cast upwards and at his feet lies a strange lifeless creature.

In brass and concrete the memorial reads: “NYC UFO Tugboat Abduction”.

A very real monument to a completely bogus event.

Let’s make this clear: the UFO abduction never happened – but that hasn’t stopped Harbor Mystery Cruise tickets and souvenirs being sold, along with an elaborate commemorative website and documentary being set up.



His works have earned him praise and bewilderment in equal measures. The New York Times recently dubbed him the “Banksy” of Brooklyn.

In the era of “fake news” and heightened scepticism, Reginella’s statues carry the timely warning for visitors to be wary of what they read, and prove just how gullible and willing to believe we are when faced with an unfamiliar city.

Tourists wishing to visit the mobile monuments should check up on their websites as to when they will be appearing in New York’s parks.

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