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From Haunted Mansions To The Brooklyn Bridge

PHOTO: Marta Ferrer
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in Soho is Marilyn Stoat's first stop on her tour of "Soho Ghosts."

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
way to market one his tours, called "Manhattan's Ghosts and Goblins."

"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."

PHOTO: Marta Ferrer
Philip Schoenberg says the ghost of Peter Stuyvesant haunts St. Mark's Church in the East Village

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.
11 attacks, also leads $15 walking tours around the perimeter of the World Trade
Center site.

"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
from the safety of knowing it's not going to happen to them."


NEXT:
A Tour Of The Macabre

 

 

A Walk On The Dark Side
From Haunted Mansions To The Brooklyn Bridge
A Tour Of The Macabre

PHOTO: AP Photo Archive

Walking The Graveyard Shift

If tiptoeing through the gravestones is your idea of a good time, New York City has plenty of cemeteries to keep you on the prowl..

Justin Ferate of Tours of the City says his ramble through the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn is even more popular than his "Ghosts and Goblins" tour.

"Anyone who is anyone, from the 1800's to today, is buried there," he says.

"It's a beautiful cemetery," he adds. "Some people consider it to be more beautiful than Central Park."

Celebrity watchers can follow their favorite stars to the grave. Among the luminaries who have made New York their final resting spot are Mae West, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

MANHATTAN
Trinity Churchyard
Look for: Tycoon John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with the Titanic, American statesman Alexander Hamilton: artist John J. Audobon.

BROOKLYN
Beth El Cemetery
Look for: Actor Edward G. Robinson

Green-Wood Cemetery
Look for: Frank Morgan, who played the title character in the 1939 film version of "The Wizard of Oz," former New York City mayor William "Boss" Tweed; conductor Leonard Bernstein and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger.

BRONX
Woodlawn Cemetery
Look for: Jazz bandleader Duke Ellington, composer George Cohan and the family of Damon Runyon (The author of "Guys and Dolls" choose to be cremated.")

St. Raymond's Cemetery
Look for: Jazz singer Billie Holiday, rock'n'roller Frankie Lymon, Chantels singer Jackie Jackson

Friends Religious Society Cemetery
Look for: Actor Montgomery Clift

QUEENS
Machpelah Cemetery
Look for: Escape artist Harry Houdini

Cypress Hills Cemetery
Look for: Actress Mae West, baseball player Jackie Robinson

Union Field Cemetery
Look for: Actor Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion in "The Wizard of Oz;" attorney Roy Cohn

Flushing Cemetery
Look for:
Musician John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie; Jazz musician Louis Armstrong

St. John's Cemetery
Look for: Body builder Charles Atlas; numerous gangsters, including Salvatore "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino

To find where your favorite dead celebrity is buried, check out these Web sites:

Findagrave.com

Politicalgraveyard.com
Celebrity Graves-Los Angeles
Celebrity Graves-Outside Los Angeles

 

 

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