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. All of our tours are led by working writers of horror and speculative fiction, who 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?
All of our tours are run by emerging and established horror and speculative fiction writers.
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.
Tour guide Leanna Renee Heiber 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 forthcoming 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.
Tour guide Lauren Glennon is a writer, actress, and theatre enthusiast. She has spent a majority of her life studying the paranormal and has discovered her love of theatre has become entwined: in her current incarnation as a Broadway usher, she has found herself experiencing a few ghostly friends. She loves to share her personal experiences with the paranormal, and looks forward to doing so as a Boroughs of the Dead guide.
Do You Wear Costumes?
Nope! Whether clad in Edwardian 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.
Which tour do you recommend?
If you like true-crime or you’re a history buff, you might like my historical true-crime tours: Murder, Scandal, and Vice: Crime and Corruption in 19th Century New York and Green-Wood Cemetery: Off the Map. 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, I 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, I can recommend The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour. Each stop has been carefully selected based on my two years’ experience leading tours in the West Village and Greenwich Village. I’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 I only offer it once a year, on April 14th and/or 15th. If you just can’t wait til then, I do offer private tours of my Titanic walk, or any of my ghost walks. Feel free to blend and customize routes as well. I’m always happy to craft a specialized ghost walk based on your favorite themes, eras, and interests.
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 90-minute period. Only take on what you can handle. The Green-Wood Cemetery Tour is not recommended for those who have trouble on steep or hilly areas, and is not recommended for anyone with a stroller.
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. So don’t worry about being in a group of forty people in the East Village on a Saturday night, following a tour guide in a neon t-shirt or something. That won’t be you, we promise.
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 call me on the day of the tour for an update. No refunds or rain checks will be given if a tour is listed as running.
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. No refunds will be given in cases of extreme lateness (more than 20 minutes after start time) or no-shows.
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.
Do You Offer Private, Group, or Customized Tours?
Yes. Feel free to blend and customize routes as well. I’m always happy to craft a specialized ghost walk based on your favorite themes, eras, and interests.
What If I Have A Suggestion for a Ghost Tour?
Email me! I’d love to hear it!
If you have any other questions, please call or email me and I will be happy to answer them!