Ghosts of the Titanic

 On April 12, 1912 the Royal Mail Ship Titanic made her ill-fated maiden voyage across the Atlantic, destined for New York. New York City never saw Titanic, but the city still harbors a fair share of its memories – and of its ghosts. Inspired by the uncanny and ghostly tales associated with the Ship of Dreams, Ghosts of the Titanic will take participants from Cooper Union to Pier 54 in Chelsea as we explore the more mysterious and inexplicable aspects of one of the eeriest maritime disasters in history. You’ll walk in the shadow of Titanic on this one hour and forty-five-minute walking tour, and discover the incredible connections between the ill-fated vessel and numerous New York City locations, including Astor Place, Grace Church, the High Line, and more as we blend tales of Titanic with New York City history and plenty of ghostly maritime lore. We’ll show you an unassuming West Village hotel whose chic facade hides the sad tales of those who were billeted there in April 1912, after coming ashore on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued survivors of the Titanic. The surviving crew waited at the Jane Street hotel for news of their shipmates; some say they never left, and still rattle around the corridors waiting for news that never comes. You’ll find out which survivor held a seance after the ship went down — and made contact with her departed husband. And you’ll marvel — and shiver — at the strange confluence of inexplicable coincidences and eerie events connected to the ill fated ocean liner, from ghostly artifacts and apparitions that haunt us to...

The Most Romantic Ghosts in New York City

When you think about it, most ghost stories also have elements of romance in them, don’t they? Common ghost origin-stories tend to run one of three ways — a murder or misdeed has been committed, an unjust, sudden or premature death occurred, or the old standby: they died of a broken heart. Since New York City abounds with ghost stories, it makes sense that we’d have a lot of love stories here, too. And so in the spirit of Saint Valentine, who was very romantically beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14th, we present here a short list of some of the most romantic ghosts in New York City. Many people are familiar with Gertrude Tredwell, the famous spinster ghost of the Merchant’s House Museum. Born in 1840 to a wealthy merchant family on East 4th Street, Gertrude grew up and fell in love with a very dreamy doctor named Luis Walton. Walton, though, was a Catholic and Gertrude’s strict Episcopalian daddy forbade the marriage. She never loved again. Gertrude pined away on East 4th Street until she died 1933. She still wistfully haunts her old home, which is now a museum. We’ll talk about Gertrude and Luis in more detail on our special Valentine’s Day edition of The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour. Harry Houdini and his wife Bess also fall into the category of romantic ghosts. Before Harry died, the two of them agreed on a secret phrase that one of them would transmit to the other after death through a medium, thus proving that spirit contact between loved ones was indeed possible. Sweet, no? We...

Edgar Allan Poe in New York City

In honor of Edgar Poe’s 207th birthday, join us a virtual tour of Edgar Allan Poe in New York City. This tour takes us even farther than our “Edgar Allan Poe in Greenwich Village” walking tour allows us, letting us range up and down the length of Manhattan and the Bronx, discovering significant locations for Poe’s life and work in New York City. To begin with a bird’s eye overview, you can’t do better than Mary E. Phillips’ Poe Plan of New York, from the E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Almost every significant Poe-related location in Manhattan is pointed out here, and you can spend hours rambling and gazing at this virtual 19th century city through Poe’s eyes. But let’s hone in on a few precise locations. This is Edgar Allan Poe’s house on Carmine Street, where he lived briefly for a period in 1837-8. Poe’s first foray into New York City is covered in detail elsewhere on this site, but in a nutshell, he lived here for about a year, bringing his mother-in-law and new bride along with him. Their trip started off well enough, and Poe had high hopes for getting some magazine work in this publishing epicenter. Image courtesy of the NYPL Digital Collections. On the back of the image, an inscription reads: “Poe’s neighbors in Carmine Street; old relics opposite his old home. The house he lived in has long been replaced by a pretentious apartment house.” Here’s the City Hotel, where Poe attended a Bookseller’s Dinner on March 30th, 1837, where he gave a toast: “To the monthlies of Gotham, their distinguished editors, and...

Ghosts, Christmas and New York City

This is the first in a series of holiday themed posts celebrating our annual Christmas tours. We’ll be presenting three holiday themed ghost tours, Ghosts of Christmas Past, this December. To buy tickets to these events, click here! We in New York City are lucky enough to have had some jolly old Dutch forefathers, who brought the holiday with them. When the British took over the colony in the 1660s, their children envied the Dutch boys and girls who got presents every December 6th and begged their parents to follow suit. Then in 1823 Clement Clark Moore wrote the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (otherwise known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) at his Chelsea estate. Finally, in the 1860s, German immigrant and cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized the image of Santa as a jolly fat man in the pages of magazines like Puck and Harper’s Illustrated Weekly.   What about Christmas trees? You can also thank NYC’s German immigrants for that. Did you know that in 1848 so many Germans settled in the east side of the city that it was called Kliene Deutscheland? It’s true! And they brought many of their traditions, including the Christmas tree, wtih them. However, it was an illustration of Queen Victoria and family enjoying their Christmas tree reprinted in Godey’s Ladies Book in the 1850s that really started the tree trend here in America. Residents of Kliene Deutscheland would have recognized Prince Albert, though: he was from the German House of Hanover. So New Yorkers benefit from many traditions, be they Dutch or English or German. One New Yorker who was especially...

Poe and Lovecraft: The Weird in New York City

Boroughs of the Dead’s tour The Weird West Village: From Poe to Lovecraft focuses on the ghostly, uncanny, and weird side of the city on this tour that highlights the works of two great masters of the macabre. Tickets available here. Quick: what comes to mind when I say the word “weird”? The uncanny? The eerie, odd, and inexplicable? “Weird” is all of these things — the ghostly and strange and subtly disturbing. Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft were masters of the literary weird, icons in the world of unsettling literature. By a (weird?) coincidence, they both lived in New York City during crucial stages in their careers, and signs of both of them can still be found in the city. There are two extant structures at nearly opposite ends of the city that you can visit if you’re a fan of either of these writers: 169 Clinton Street in Brooklyn is the well-known former residence of H.P. Lovecraft (and recently sold for three million dollars) and Poe’s Bronx home still stands, although in a much busier thoroughfare than the Valentine cottage of the 1840s (and in a slightly different location from the original). But if you want to explore the worlds of both of these writers in one afternoon, the best place to do so is actually in the West Village. Although Lovecraft resided in Brooklyn, he ranged far and wide in his explorations of the city, spending long nights walking in the Village until dawn, and even venturing as far afield as Staten Island on his rambles. Greenwich Village’s “cryptical” winding streets found their way into...
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