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I Went on a Christmas-Themed Ghost Tour of New York City

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I booked a Ghosts of Christmas Past strolling tour of the East Village via the macabre-focused tour firm Boroughs of the Dead.

A printed Eventbrite ticket for a Ghosts of Christmas Past tour.

My ticket.

Talia Lakritz/Insider


As somebody who enjoys exploring and writing about haunted locations, I could not wait to see the place this tour would take me.

Boroughs of the Dead was based by Andrea Janes, creator of “Boroughs of the Dead: New York City Ghost Stories.” I was fortunate sufficient to have her as my tour information for the East Village Christmas-themed strolling tour.

My ticket value $37.54 complete with tax and costs via Eventbrite. Boroughs of the Dead additionally gives excursions all through Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Roosevelt Island.

The tour started exterior St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, which is alleged to be haunted by the ghost of Peter Stuyvesant (the namesake of Stuyvesant Street).


St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

St. Mark’s Church was constructed on the positioning of the Stuyvesant household chapel, the place director-general of New Amsterdam Peter Stuyvesant is buried. Janes mentioned his ghost has been noticed — and heard — by many parishioners over time.


Known as a notably raucous ghost, he’s mentioned to have disrupted Christmas sermons with loud renditions of Dutch Christmas carols and the sound of his peg leg thumping up and down the aisles.

Stuyvesant’s ghost can also be mentioned to have rung the bells within the belfry after the sexton locked them up for the night time.

The bell tower of St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City.

The bell tower of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

When the church sexton went as much as examine, he discovered that the bell rope used to make the bells toll was lacking.

“He was completely baffled, however received some clue as to who was ringing that bell when the subsequent morning he got here, opened the churchyard, and located mendacity over Stuyvesant’s tomb that exact same bell rope,” Janes mentioned.

The church was closed to the general public, however we have been in a position to see the bust of Stuyvesant via the gate.

A bust of Peter Stuyvesant as seen through a gate.

A bust of Peter Stuyvesant.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

“He’s all the time been right here, since he died in 1671, and he’ll all the time be right here forevermore,” Janes mentioned of Stuyvesant.

We proceeded to the Ottendorfer Library, a landmark relationship again to the 1850s when the East Village was generally known as Little Germany.

A historic library in New York City.

The Ottendorfer Library in Manhattan.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

In the 1850s, the East Village was generally known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany, and featured a inhabitants of over 150,000 German immigrants.

The library was accomplished in 1884 as a present from newspaper homeowners and journalists Anna and Oswald Ottendorfer.

A sign explaining the history of the Ottendorfer Library in Manhattan.

An indication explaining the historical past of the Ottendorfer Library.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

It was the primary free public library in New York City, and it nonetheless operates as a public library at this time.

Janes defined how Christmas traditions like adorning timber originate from Germany, and she or he regaled us with tales of the German Christmas satan Krampus.

A tour guide shows pictures in a binder.

Boroughs of the Dead founder and proprietor Andrea Janes.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert helped popularize the German custom of Christmas timber when an illustration of them gathered round their tree was revealed in a number of magazines. And Santa Claus is a jolly model of the German Christmas satan Krampus, who is alleged to show naughty kids a lesson by beating them with a change, placing them in a sack, and dragging them off to hell.

“We have gotten a lot to thank the Germans for in terms of Christmas,” Janes mentioned.

We turned the nook onto East seventh Street and arrived at McSorley’s Old Ale House to debate the historical past of Christmas revelry.

McSorley's Old Ale House in New York City.

McSorley’s Old Ale House.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

My tour passed off the day after SantaCon, a city-wide bar crawl through which patrons costume up as Santa. It seems that such drunken debauchery dates again additional than one may count on.

“On this tour we like to make use of [SantaCon] as a historic body of reference, as a result of rowdiness at Christmas is not at all a new phenomenon,” Janes mentioned, citing a letter written by New York Historical Society founder John Pintard in 1809 complaining of “calathumpian bands” at Christmastime.

Next we visited the Public Theater, previously the Astor Library frequented by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” creator Washington Irving.

The Public Theater, formerly the Astor Library in New York City.

The Public Theater, previously the Astor Library.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

In 1860, librarian Joseph Green Cogswell reportedly noticed a number of ghosts roaming the halls of the library and requested Irving learn how to deal with it. Irving really useful that he get a watchdog to protect the constructing in a single day. When Cogswell opened the doorways of the library the next morning, the watchdog is alleged to have run out and refused to return again.

Just a few days later, Cogswell reportedly noticed the ghost of a man whose funeral he’d attended two weeks earlier than. According to legend, Cogswell advised the apparition he must pay double for a library membership since he was there after hours, and the ghostly man promptly vanished.

Janes additionally identified different surrounding historic landmarks, like LeGrange Terrace, a row of marble townhouses as soon as owned by John Jacob Astor.

A building in New York City.

LeGrange Terrace, throughout the road from the Public Theater.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

Also generally known as Colonnade Row, the buildings date again to the 1830s. Astor, a New York actual property mogul, was the wealthiest individual within the US when he died in 1848. He bequeathed $400,000 to the town of New York to construct the Astor Library, which opened in 1854.

Our final cease was the Merchant’s House Museum on East 4th Street, which is alleged to be haunted by the ghosts of its former residents.

The Merchant's House in New York City.

The Merchant’s House is alleged to be haunted.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

Merchant Seabury Tredwell and his spouse, Eliza Parker, bought the home in 1835 and lived there with their eight kids. Their youngest baby, Gertrude, was born there and remained within the residence till she died at age 93.

She is alleged to have died in the identical mattress the place she was born … and a few say she by no means left.

Since it opened to the general public, the museum’s tour guides and guests have reported uncommon sights and sounds.

A sign explaining the history of The Merchant's House in New York City.

The Merchant’s House.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

The completely preserved Victorian residence was changed into a museum after Gertrude’s demise. While working to put in trendy plumbing, building staff reported seeing visions of Gertrude coming down the steps.

Museum guests have reported seeing ghostly members of the Tredwell household and listening to the sounds of piano music and footsteps. Mysterious figures have additionally been noticed at Christmas live shows hosted there.

Janes advised us that a pal of hers who’s a tour information on the museum as soon as heard the servant’s bells ringing although they have been now not practical and never connected to something.

While I did not see any ghosts, I loved studying heaps of historical past along with listening to some spooky tales.

A selfie of a woman outside St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery.

I loved the tour.

Talia Lakritz/Insider

The Ghosts of Christmas Past tour featured extra than simply some eerie ghost tales. I ended up studying some fascinating bits of historical past about New York City and vacation traditions.

I want we might have stepped inside some of the areas to take a go searching, however remaining open air made for a notably pandemic-friendly exercise — and an genuine chill down my backbone.

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