Rediscover New York City this week on a special behind-the-scenes tour with Untapped Cities. Each week we offer a fresh list of experiences led by our expert and licensed New York City tour guides and created in partnership with the city’s leading cultural institutions. This week, hear ghost stories of the West Village, uncover the secrets of the subway, see a unique site-specific art installation inside an abandoned hospital, and more!
Wednesday, August 21st
Photograph Courtesy of Boroughs of the Dead
Ghost stories, secret histories, and urban lore abound on this haunting, mysterious, and wonderfully weird stroll through one of the most charming neighborhoods in the city. Discover the mystical symbolism hidden in everyday architecture and the subterranean histories lurking below New York City. Hear tales of phantoms, occultists, restless spirits, body snatchers, horror writers including Edgar Allan Poe, and spectral founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. A cut above the usual ghost tour, this signature Boroughs of the Dead walking tour brings together history and ghost lore to show you a side of the city as you’ve never seen it before. Channel the Southern gothic vibe of the city on this macabre walking tour through the labyrinthine streets of the West Village. You can join this tour for free is you are an Untapped Cities Insider!
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Saturday, August 24th
- Discover all 26 site-specific collages by the world-renowned artist JR inside the abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island from the exhibition “Unframed – Ellis Island.”
- All artworks are life-sized archival photographs of immigrants taken on Ellis Island that reactivate this long forgotten complex. There is even one you will see pasted by actor Robert de Niro.
- Access 10 locations in the abandoned hospital complex that are completely closed off to the public and open exclusively to attendees of this tour, including the second floor of the general hospital and the visually stunning “Blue Room”
- Get to know the stories behind each of the photos and learn the history of the abandoned hospitals on a tour led by an expert in JR’s art on Ellis Island
- Receive a framable 24′ x 36′ poster of one of JR’s most notable pieces at Ellis Island
- 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
- 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!
- 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
Sunday, August 25th
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
- Visit sites for classic films like Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Taxi Driver (1976)
- 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