Explore locations both famous and obscure on our expert led tours, and gain access to special events from the city’s leading cultural institutions. This week, hear ghost stories Greenwich Villages, discover the remnants of the original Beaux-Arts Penn Station, unearth secrets of the subway and find more ways to rediscover your city this week on a behind-the-scenes tour!
Tuesday, July 23rd
Photo credit Boroughs of the Dead/Melissa Chu
On The Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, Insiders will hear the very best ghost stories from the East Village and Greenwich Village. Following a carefully researched route with stops hand-picked by their expert guides, the ghostly tales are situated within the broader narrative of these historic neighborhoods. Explore some of the parapsychological principles underpinning the ghost stories, from the earliest forays into psychical research and Spiritualism in the 19th century to current theories of paranormal phenomena and discover how turbulent histories often create enduring local legends. Boroughs of the Dead encourages you to “bring your skepticism, morbid fascinations, and love of NYC history — and your respect for the unseen world that rests at the edge of our perceived reality!”
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Wednesday, July 24th
- Get a comprehensive history of the past, present and future of Penn Station
- See over a dozen indoor and outdoor old-station remnants hidden in plain sight
- Learn insider navigation tips for one of the most cramped and complicated transit hubs in North America
- See never-before-seen old station photos from the collections of three photographers who photo documented Penn’s life and demolition
- Each guest will also receive a framable, reproduction ticket of the first commuter ride into Pennsylvania Station from 1910
Thursday, July 25th
Learn more about one of New York’s oldest and most prevalent residents, oysters, at a discussion hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Oysters are extremely beneficial to New York as they serve not only as a delicious snack but they also filter sewage, to protect the shore from intensifying storms and educate scientists. Join Brooklyn Historical Society Vice President of Collections and Curatorial Affairs Julie Goliain conversation with Billion Oyster Project Director of Education Ann Fraioli, chef and oyster farmer Kerry Heffernan, and Mark Kurlansky, author of The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shelll, to “examine the bivalves’ pivotal place in the story of New York, beginning with Lenape cultivation and continuing to today’s ambitious plans to build artificial oyster reefs.”
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Saturday, July 27th
- Learn about the secrets of one of NYC’s most iconic buildings
- See Grand Central’s hidden tennis courts
- Peek into the entrance of the glass walkways
- Learn about the design flaw as large as Grand Central Terminal’s main atrium
- Discover a multi-million dollars jewel hidden in plain sight and more!
Inside the Chambers Street station in Lower Manhattan
- Explore City Hall Park as the birthplace of the NYC subway system, including elements of the famed, decommissioned City Hall Station you can see right in the park
- Learn about the comically short route of the mythical “Subway before the Subway,” Alfred Ely Beach’s Pneumatic Transit System
- See the architectural ghosts of the now nearly forgotten, and partially abandoned, Chambers Street station then nicknamed the “Grand Central of Downtown”
- Use the 6 train as your own time machine as you ride through abandoned subway stations
- Discover the remnants of Union Station as you learn about a hidden art installation thousands of riders walk by everyday
Titled America’s first playground, Coney Island was a small strip of sand on Brooklyn’s south coast that became synonymous with the burlesque, the bizarre, the outlandish and the corrupt. Join, author, playwright and Untapped Cities tour guide, Justin Rivers, in a new Untapped Cities tour, The Secrets of Coney Island: Past, Present, Future, & Unknown, as you trace the steps of the two main characters from his graphic novel, The Wonder City: The Great Whale of Coney Island on their visit one hot summer in 1942. Through their eyes you’ll see what Coney Island was like at the height of its mid-century popularity.
- Unearth old secrets of the many long-gone amusement parks
- Learn about what’s in store for the hotly contested future development of the island
Sunday, July 28th
This tour will take you back to the Gritty Old Times Square of the 1970’s, a world featured in HBO’s new series The Deuce. Back then, Times Square was a dangerous, exciting, gritty, intense, racially and sexually diverse neighborhood frequented by both locals and tourists. Love it or hate it, you couldn’t ignore it. Most of old Times Square has been carefully obliterated by generic hotels, soulless office buildings, and Walt Disney musicals, but there are still a few vestiges of its seedy past—if you know where to look.
So let us take you back to the halcyon days when 42nd Street was the Deuce, Eighth Avenue was the Minnesota Strip, the Great White Way was a red light district, and the Crossroads of the World was XXX-rated. We will see former peepshows, grindhouses, adult book stores, dive bars, hotsheet hotels, sex clubs, porno theaters, and massage parlors–not to mention all three locations of the New York Times. We will discover the personalities who made Times Square what it was: the King of the Peeps; the reclusive genius behind the McDonalds of Sex; the woman who built a gay and S&M porn empire; the slumlord with two suitcases filled with gold and five wives; and the Catholic priest who flew too close to the neon sun and crashed and burned.
- Learn about about the largest sex emporium in New York City (and maybe the world), the freak show where Diane Arbus found her inspiration, as well as the last remaining hot sheet hotel and live peep show in Times Square
- Discover the dirtiest hotel in America, the oldest building on 42nd Street (it’s not what you think), and the most dangerous block in New York City
There are two things most commuters don’t realize about Penn: First, there used to be a gorgeous Beaux Arts station that was demolished in the mid-60’s. Second: Parts of that old station can still be found today. They’ve just been buried under the arena that landed on top of them.
On our tour of the Remnants of Penn Station, we’ll take you back inside this central transportation hub to discuss the past, present and future plans for the structure. Although Amtrak only acknowledges one remnant remaining, tour participants will learn about station history and discover remnants of the McKim, Mead & White building located in plain sight.
Tours will continue to be supported by photographic presentations of the station by renown photographers Norman McGrath, Peter Moore, and Aaron Rose, along with the work of railroad aficionados Alexander Hatos, an employee of Pennsylvania Railroad and Ron Ziel, a railroad historian.
- Explore the over 100-year-old contagious disease hospital, which has been abandoned since 1954
- See an exhibition by the world-renowned artist JR, who has placed life-sized historic photographs of Ellis Island immigrants on interior walls of the hospital buildings
- Visit the Laundry Building, where 3000+ pieces of laundry were washed and sanitized daily
- Discover the kitchen, autopsy room and other usually off-limits places
- Get special access inside the original morgue and long abandoned FBI offices
- Hear about the massive civic project that transformed a wasteland into an urban pleasure ground
- Learn about the curious origins of the Central Park Zoo and the corruption scandal that caused a riot
- Uncover the hidden meaning in Bethesda Terrace’s sculptures and the forbidden love that inspired the park’s most famous statue
- See the secret bolt left behind from the creation of Manhattan’s street grid
- Discover the secret navigational device that keeps pedestrians from getting lost on the park’s winding paths