What is “Boroughs of the Dead?”
Boroughs of the Dead is a unique walking tour company devoted to the city’s dark secrets, hidden histories, ghost stories, and forgotten tales. Our expert guides are devoted to the craft of macabre storytelling and historical accuracy in equal measure. As for the name, it comes from the nickname for the borough of Queens (because it has so many cemeteries). But one can look at the entire city as a place where the dead outnumber the living, where uncanny tales cannot be explained, and where things go bump all night long… these are the Boroughs of the Dead…
Who are your guides?
Founder and owner Andrea Janes is the author of BOROUGHS OF THE DEAD: New York City Ghost Stories, the book that inspired this company. The book is a work of fiction, but in the course of her research, she discovered the city was a wealth of ghostly, gory stories, and decided she wanted to share them with the world. Andrea is also the author of the YA novel GLAMOUR, and several short horror stories.
Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, and award-winning bestselling author of multiple Historical Fantasy series for adults and teens, including the Strangely Beautiful saga, the Magic Most Foul saga and the Eterna Files saga from Tor/Forge. Most of her books are set in Victorian New York and all of her work deals with the supernatural, paranormal, Gothic and fantastical.
SJ Costello is an illustrator and history enthusiast with a fondness for sea shanties, sideshows, and the supernatural. She has been on several paranormal investigations both in the US and the UK, and is always curious about the possibility of ghostly experiences. SJ also leads tours at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum when not leading tours with Boroughs of the Dead. In her spare time, she works on her in-progress graphic novel, Going To Weather, a 19th century nautical drama.
Marie Carter grew up in Scotland near Edinburgh, a city bubbling with ghost stories. Her father was a bus tour guide in Edinburgh and he would often drive her around town quizzing her on historical facts. She now lives in Astoria, Queens and is extremely excited to be sharing dark and ghoulish historical stories with you. She’s the author of The Trapeze Diaries and the editor Word Jig: New Fiction from Scotland.
Riley Kellogg is a native New Yorker with a lifelong love of the city’s hidden histories, and of the bizarre, ghostly, and unexplainable. She holds an MA in Religion from Columbia University, and is researching a book on spiritualists and other religious outliers in American history. Growing up as an actress on the New York stage she learned the joy of entertaining and discovered a flair for storytelling; she is delighted to be combining these interests in leading tours of the macabre.
Do You Wear Costumes?
Nope! Whether clad in Victorian black or simply wearing those newfangled denim trousers everyone’s talking about, our guides wear whatever they would normally wear. We feel that sticking with our personal style keeps things true to our vision, so that’s what we do. While there are plenty of good tours featuring capes and costumes, that’s just not our particular preference.
Are your ghost tours scary?
The goal of our tours isn’t to produce a momentary sensation of fear but rather to communicate deeply unsettling stories that will stay with you long after the tour is done.
Our emphasis on strange-but-true stories and history means that, beyond a discussion of paranormal investigative techniques and concepts on the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, there is no active “ghost hunting” aspect to any of these tours.
Simply put, our ghost tours consist of approximately 90 minutes to two hours of walking, talking, history, and ghostly and horrific tales — expertly told by passionate, intelligent guides.
Which tour do you recommend?
If you like true-crime or you’re a history buff, you might like our historical true-crime tours: Murder, Scandal, and Vice: Crime and Corruption in 19th Century New York and Green-Wood Cemetery: Murder, Mayhem, Scandal and Spiritualism. Both of these tours pass by the tombs and tales of “the good and the great,” and focus instead on the poor, the notorious, and the scandalous. If you have a literary bent or are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, we can recommend Edgar Allan Poe’s Greenwich Village, a walk through the poet’s main stomping grounds in the 1840s. (Hint: pair it with a visit to the Poe cottage in the Bronx, which is only about 30 minutes away on the D train.)
If you do believe in spooks, we can recommend The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour. Each stop has been carefully selected based on several years’ research and experience leading tours in the West Village and Greenwich Village. We’ve taken the highlights from all those ghost walks and melded them into one top-notch two hour ghost tour. Finally, Dark Histories of Lower Manhattan wends its way through Lower Manhattan — one of the oldest and most haunted areas in the city — and features a lot of history along with its ghost stories.
Ghosts of the Titanic remains ever popular, though we only offer it once a year, on April 14th and/or 15th. If you just can’t wait til then, we do offer private tours of our Titanic walk, or any of our ghost walks.
Do You Offer Private, Group, or Customized Tours?
Yes. Feel free to blend and customize routes as well. We are always happy to craft a specialized ghost walk based on your favorite themes, eras, and interests. Please contact us for pricing and availability.
Are These Tours Suitable for Children?
Boroughs of the Dead ghost tours and true crime tours cover topics that are “dark” and may be potentially disturbing in nature. Potential topics may include death, including the death of children and animals; general violence; gang violence; riots; slavery; prostitution; murder; piracy and illegal/criminal activities; drugs, alcohol and illicit substances; rape; abortion; war; torture; dismemberment; insanity; disease; discussions of the afterlife and spirit world; and grave-robbing. Worse, they contain positively lethal amounts of history. Children under 12 will likely be bored, scared, or both bored and scared. Nobody wants that. Just think of these tours like a PG-13 movie and use your judgment before buying tickets.
How Much “Walking” Does This Walking Tour Have Anyway?
If you are elderly, injured, or have trouble walking, bear in mind that most of these tours entail about 1.2 miles of walking in a roughly two-hour period. Only take on what you can handle. The Green-Wood Cemetery and Central Park tours are not recommended for those who have trouble on steep or hilly areas, contain some stairs, and are not recommended for anyone with a stroller. All of our other tours take place on NYC streets and sidewalks and are wheelchair accessible (please be advised however that the Brooklyn Heights tour contains some steep hills and narrow sidewalks).
Do we go inside anywhere?
As with most city walking tours, all of our stories are told in outdoor areas in public places such as parks and sidewalks. Many of the stories told on our tours concern private homes, museums and historic houses, cemeteries, and other areas with limited public access; as such our stories are told on the sidewalks nearby or in front of these places. Very few ghost tours in the city actually go inside any of the locations for the reasons mentioned above. We never enter any areas illegally or without permission.
Are there rest stops?
Most of our tours are under two hours, therefore there are no rest stops or breaks on the tour.
Where do the tours end?
*** Please note: end points are all subject to change, as routes may change unexpectedly during a tour for reasons beyond our control. All of the following end points are approximate. *** The Weird West Village tour usually ends near 7th Avenue and Christopher Street; The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost tour ends near Washington Square; Haunted Brooklyn Heights ends near Court Street and Montague; Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria ends near Astoria Park; and Forgotten Dark Histories of Lower Manhattan ends near City Hall Park. The best way to determine a more precise end point for your tour is to ask your guide.
How Do I Buy Tickets?
Simply go to the Calendar of public tours, select the date and time of the tour you want, and click to register and purchase tickets.
Do I Have To Buy in Advance? Can’t I just Show Up?
Advance purchase will guarantee your spot on the tour. This is important to ensure you are not disappointed in the event you arrive to a tour that is already at capacity. (See below for more on our maximum allowable number of customers.) Also, if fewer than four people sign up for a tour, it may not run. If you don’t register, I’ll never know you wanted to take my tour. How lonely and sad would that be?
How Many Customers Do You Have Per Tour?
We keep our group sizes small. Normally our groups range from 10 – 15 people, with slightly higher numbers in October. We cap our group sizes at 20 people maximum (25 in park and cemetery tours) to ensure a high quality experience for everyone.
What Are Your Cancellation and Refund Policies?
Tours are only canceled in the case of extreme weather conditions or severe tour guide illness. Light rain or passing showers is not considered extreme. Hurricanes, blizzards, Nor’easters, hail, life-threatening lightning, and extremely heavy, prolonged rains are considered “extreme” weather. Weather-related updates will be posted on our Twitter and Facebook pages if it looks ominous outside. You can also contact us on the day of the tour for an update. No refunds or rain checks will be given if a tour is listed as running.
Our tickets are non-refundable; however, if you cancel at least 48 hours prior to the tour, you may take a rain check to use on a future tour (subject to availability). No refunds or rain checks will be given in cases of cancellations with fewer than 48 hours’ notice provided, or in the case of no-shows (defined as arriving ten minutes or more past the stated tour start time).
In the event that a tour is canceled due to weather or tour guide illness, you are invited to take any other tour at your convenience (subject to availability). You may also get a full refund if that is what you prefer.
Tours will also be canceled if fewer than four people register in advance. In this case, you will be guaranteed a spot on a future tour, or a full refund.
Are you open year-round?
We offer public tours eleven months of the year, with reduced schedules in January and no public tours in February. We usually offer tours on Friday and Saturday nights; additional tours are added in October. Our administrative offices are usually open three days a week. Please see our Contact page for our current schedule of office hours.