Boo! Take a tour of haunted New York
New York City has a long history and countless stories some of them featuring the uneasy dead. The believers say theres ghosts lurking in all corners of Manhattan. And with Halloween just a week away, nows your chance to spend a spirited evening in the city and discover some on your own But you dont need to go ghost-hunting alone. Here are some tours to lead you through the landscapes of the dead.
Ghosts of New York offers five walking tours and a family-friendly program of ghost stories. One of the most popular walks starts in front of St. Marks Church in the Bowery. The winding Village streets lend themselves to ghostly tales, so the city becomes a player in the stories.
The guides of the tour take on period garb and names, beginning the tour in a cemetery at nightfall, talking about changes and resentments of long-past times.
The 92nd Street Ys ghost tour includes the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where 146 workers were killed in a 1911 fire; Washington Square Park, where criminals used to be hanged; a house haunted by the sprirt of Mark Twain; an execution ground, and a former potters field. This tour adds another Poe connection: The Northern Dispensary. On a plaque, the 1831 building bears its original mandate: Heal the Sick. Local lore holds that ghosts linger here, perhaps seeking cures they did not find in life. Questions and photography are encouraged, so the two-hour tour often runs long.
29 East 4th St, 212-777-1089
In addition to ghost tours of Manhattans most haunted house, the Merchants House Museum offers lectures on ghost-hunting, ghost stories, and the reenactment of a 19th century funeral, complete with following the casket to the cemetery (the wearing of appropriate mourning attire is encouraged; black armbands are provided). Eva Ulz, the museums education coordinator, describes the funeral as eerie and spooky, with a fake corpse and a weeping widow. Ulz regards the resident ghosts as colleagues. They bring people to the house, and we tell their story. Its a symbiotic relationship. I think that was their plan all along.Vampire Tours
Reservations can be made at email@example.com or 917-379-8914.
If you fancy something more toothsome than spirits, consider an alternate reality tour: a New York inhabited by vampires. Dr. John Seward steps out of the pages of Bram Stokers Dracula and leads a walking seminar on the vampire history of New York City. Those who think that the subway is a human-built commutation system are in for a darkly educational experience. Instead of asking for tour fees, the good doctor requests a donation of $25 to help cover resurrection costs.
Whichever tour you choose, one thing is certain. Youll never feel the same way about walking the streets at night.
Do you want to take in some spirits on your own?
Ghostbusters Spook Central is at 55 Central Park West. Be warned: Youre expecting something taller. The filmmakers used a model of the building and made it look substantially taller than it is.
Rumor has it that Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Cask of Amontillado while living at 47 Bond Street. Between Bowery and Lafayette, the building now house Il Buco, an Italian restaurant. If you want to eat in Poes place, then you can make a reservation at 212.533.1932. Dont be surprised if your sealed bottle of wine turns out to be empty. Poe has a habit of draining the contents of unopened bottles.
A more obstreperous ghost is Aaron Burr, who resides in One if By Land, Two if By Sea. The restaurant was once Burrs carriage house. Burr is known to whip chairs out from under patrons. His daughter, Theodosia (who disappeared off the coast of North Carolina) borrows earrings. 17 Barrow Street, 212.255.8649
New Yorks a theatre town and there are theatre ghosts to go with the shows. Olive Thomas, a Ziegfield Follies chorus girl, appears on stage, wearing full Follies regalia and holding the bottle that contained the pills she used to end her life. To date, Olive has appeared only to people working in the theatre, but you never know .
The Belasco Theatre is haunted by a woman in blue, the late girlfriend of the equally late David Belasco. Belasco had an apartment above the stage, but his girlfriend roams every level of the theatre and the alley leading backstage.
If you need a glass of spirits to end your ghost-chasing, then go to the White Horse Tavern. Just dont sit at Dylan Thomas corner table. He still rotates it, as he did when he was alive and dont try to outdrink the poet. He collapsed and died in the tavern after downing 18 shots of whisky. 567 Hudson Street at West 11th Street.
Photo: Merchant House (RJ Mickelson/amNY)