New York City has a dark and storied past, and while signs of its more macabre moments are long gone, there's a new tour that aims to bring them back with actors in costume.
Back in Time Walking Tours takes storytelling to the next level through song and poetry, and its new Halloween-themed jaunt through downtown Manhattan is one to remember, according to Giacinta Pace, a spokeswoman for the company.
"This is not just a day in history class," she told amNewYork. "Many of our actors have a rich knowledge of the city's history and we have them dress up in clothes from different periods in New York City — from the Revolutionary War through the 1800s — as if they've traveled through time and they're taking you with them to travel through the past."
The Halloween tour called, "Darkness in the City: A Historical Walking Tour of New York's Macabre Past," starts in Washington Square Park, which was originally a mass grave for the city's lower class citizens, according to Michael Pontone, the company's founder.
"Yes, the college kids are all playing Frisbee in an unmarked graveyard," he said.
Other stops along the tour include the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that took place at 23–29 Washington Place in 1911, killing 146 women employed there as garment workers, and the 1904 tragedy of the General Slocum disaster, where more than 1,000 women and children were killed in a fire aboard a passenger ship in the East River.
The actors leading the tours become their characters, including a wacky bard and a Victorian lady, but still have an extensive knowledge of the stops — and are licensed tour guides.
Pontone, a 35-year-old attorney, who lives in Downtown Brooklyn, started the company this year after realizing there weren’t many tours that went to these lengths to provide an unforgettable experience, he said.
”The city has so many great stories as well as talented acting professionals, it seemed like an obvious choice to join the two in order to give an experience that makes history come to life,” he said. “We see this in many European cities but it's absent in New York City for some reason.”
The company also offers other types of tours, from the history of Downtown Manhattan, to the origins of Jewish New York.
Macabre New York Tour (Oct. 4)
Mentalist Show: 'The Other Side' (Oct. 13 - 31)
Spirit of the Seaport (Oct. 20)
Halloween Masquerade Fundraiser (Oct. 26)
Pumpkitecture (Oct. 27)
Hudson Scare bar crawl (Oct. 26)
The Blood Ball (Oct. 26)
Das Fest des 'Nysferatu' Masquerade (Oct. 26)
Reality Bites Halloween Party (Oct. 27)
Prospect Park's Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair (Oct. 28)
Halloween at Dream Downtown (Oct. 28)
Seaport Halloween Block Party (Oct. 29)
William Vale Freak Show (Oct. 31)