About Murder, Scandal and Vice - Boroughs of The Dead
If you think today's crime stories are rough, wait until you learn about what life was like in the 19th century. Those are just the stories you'll hear on the Boroughs of the Dead Murder, Scandal and Vice tour, a walking tour from Boroughs of the Dead, which takes guests through lower Manhattan in an educational exploration of the seedier sides of the city's history.
Tour guide Andrea Janes -- an expert on all things scary and scandalous in New York City -- examines some of Gotham's most brutal and infamous crimes (some still unsolved!), all set against the backdrop of a growing, crowded city that seethed with scandal. From the stories of the tragic women of McGurk's Suicide Hall to an introduction to the lowlifes that trolled Five Points, Janes spellbinds with the shadiest, tawdriest and most notorious stories of 19th century New York City.
A writer and tour guide who lives in Brooklyn, Janes has always had an interest in urban history and terrifying tales, which led her to a make a career of conducting walking tours of haunted New York City locations. It was while researching for her novel, Boroughs of the Dead: New York City Ghost Stories, that she was inspired to start her tour company. And even though the book was a work of fiction, the research involved in writing it afforded Janes a wealth of knowledge about ghostly, gory stories set across the backdrop of historical New York City, information that she wanted to share with the world. The result is a tour company that offers among the most unusual and memorable in the city, especially if your tastes run toward the macabre.
The name of James' company comes from a nickname for the borough of Queens, which was so named the "Borough of the Dead" for its preponderance of cemeteries. With the city's hidden history of scandals, spooky stories, dark secrets and full range of the morbid and mortifying, it's a fitting moniker for her Manhattan tours, too.
Unless there's a hurricane, blizzard, life-threatening lightning, or other seriously inclement weather, the tour runs rain or shine (bring a poncho).
One hour and 45 minutes
Did you know?
Five Points, which no longer exists but was approximately where the Civic Center is in Manhattan, at one point had the highest murder rate of any slum in the world.
McGurk's Saloon, located at 295 Bowery, opened in 1893 and quickly earned a reputation for being the last stop for thugs, thieves and prostitutes. Ever the businessman, John McGurk renamed the saloon "Suicide Hall" as a marketing scheme.
History buffs who have a soft spot for murder, mayhem and mystery will love the Murder, Scandal and Vice tour, which includes all three in healthy proportions.
Good for kids?
Kids aren't prohibited from coming along, but Boroughs of the Dead does consider its tours to be PG-13 (as they include mentions of prostitution, murder and other not-so-kid-friendly subjects).
Boroughs of The Dead Location Information:
South end of City Hall Park by the fountain
New York, NY 10007
4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall; J, Z to Chambers St.; N, R to City Hall