|NYC24>>Margin>>A Walk On The Dark Side|
From Haunted Mansions To The Brooklyn Bridge
Some macabre walking tours of New York focus on old houses, graveyards and theaters where ghosts have supposedly been heard or sighted.
"Most people don't know that New York is an extremely haunted town," says Marilyn Stoats, whose tour company, Street Smarts, offers walking tours with names like "Ghostly Greenwich Village" and "Pubs and Poltergeists."
Among the stops on her tours are the "cursed" Mark Twain house, Manhattan's second largest graveyard, and St. Mark's Church, where Peter Stuyvesant's ghost is said to roam.
"Ghosts are fun!" says Stoats, who moved here from Texas in 1985. "But it's the history and architecture that I'm really passionate about."
Often her clients share their own ghostly experiences. "But you have to understand, these are not loonies," she says. "They are normal people who are just fascinated by this."
Justin Ferate, historian
and owner of Tours
of the City, uses ghosts as a fun
"On one hand it's silly to have a tour about ghosts, but the goal of the tour, which is teaching about the history, is never silly. I use silliness as a tool. People like fun stories, but they also like to learn."
Philip Schoenberg, a history professor who gives tours every weekend, also stops at supposedly haunted spots during his tours of Greenwich Village and Soho. On his Jewish gangster tour, he takes visitors to the old hangouts of prohibition-era criminals Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel.
For a more complete picture of gang life, tourists can check out Gangland New York City, which offers tours covering a century of gang history and lore. "Come see where the big boys used to live, killand die," its Web site beckons.
Paul Zukowski, the raspy-voiced tour guide (he sounds just like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather") leads 90-minute walking tours of the Lower East Side and Little Italy for $20. Those who really want to immerse themselves in gang culture can choose the $85, two-and-a-half-hour version, which includes a drive in a limousine.
There's even a New York City tour for people fascinated by suicide. In addition to his New York After Dark tour, retired police officer Gorman leads 90-minute tours of the Brooklyn Bridge in which he describes how police and other emergency workers talk down potential jumpers.
Gorman, who worked on about 30 attempted suicide cases (including two in which the people leapt to their deaths) during his 13 years with the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit, says the famed bridge is the most popular jumping spot in the city.
"People usually walk across from the Manhattan side," says Gorman. "If they're intent they usually go from the roadway up the outer cables and jump. But usually people go halfway up the cable and they lock in there. That freezes them. Then we have the job of negotiating with them."
Gorman, who assisted
in rescue and recovery efforts in the weeks after the Sept.
"I'm not charging an arm and a leg," Gorman says defensively, noting that some of his cop friends disapprove of the tours. "It's a service. I'm giving people a sense of what happened after the planes hit."
Why would tourists want to view the spot where people were killed or decapitated?
"It's like going
to a scary movie," explains Crime Scene USA author Yonover. "People
want to get in touch with that dark side. But they want to do it