Take a spooky look at Astoria’s past

Photos by Marie Carter

Visitors and residents of Astoria will soon be able to dig into the spooky past of the now booming neighborhood.

Tour company Boroughs of the Dead, known for its “strange and dark tours” of New York City, is stretching its two-hour tours into the western Queens neighborhood during “Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria,” expected to begin later this month.

“We are so much more than a ‘ghost tour’ company. We are genuinely dedicated to unearthing the hidden, forgotten and overlooked histories of the city, including its folklore and ghost stories, and the level of research, commitment and authentic passion for local history that we bring to our tours makes them a unique tour experience,” said Andrea Janes, owner and founder of Boroughs of the Dead.

The Astoria tour, which is scheduled to kick off on June 27, was designed and will be led by Astoria resident and author Marie Carter, who went on her first ghost tour at age 10 when she was growing up in Scotland.

Astoria resident and author Marie Carter (Photo by Andrea Janes)
Astoria resident and author Marie Carter (Photo by Andrea Janes)

Her father, who became a tour guide, instilled in her a love of history, and as she grew up, the tours continued to be an activity she enjoyed.

After making the move to New York City, Carter first thought the Big Apple didn’t have a lot of history to learn about, but once she started work at the Woolworth Building she became interested in the story behind the city.

While looking for ghost tours, she came upon Boroughs of the Dead and after making the move from Brooklyn to Astoria and researching extensively about the Queens neighborhood, she went from a customer to a guide.

“I love that they’re not just about the spooky story, they are about giving historical context and the tours are really researched,” Carter said.

Carter approached Janes about doing a tour in Astoria and Janes jumped on the idea because she had been waiting for the opportunity to expand into Queens.

“I know that having a local neighborhood expert running the tour will make it an incredibly rich experience,” Janes said. “I am extremely excited to be working with Marie and to have her as part of the BotD team. She started out as a customer, became a guide, and is now helping bring us into a whole new phase of our company.”


During the Astoria tour participants will be able to take a stroll, stretching about 1.5 miles, through some of the lesser-known historical sites and learn about some of the “unsettling tales of the neighborhood’s grim and ghostly past.”

Some of the facts participants will learn about include tragic Hollywood film starts, voodoo, grisly murders, poltergeists and hidden treasure.

“I hope they get a sense of the history of the neighborhood and I hope they get to discover how amazing the neighborhood is,” Carter said. “I come across the most amazing incredible buildings while living in Astoria and I wouldn’t have known they were there if I didn’t get lost on my bike rides. And I hope people will get an appreciation of just how amazing their neighborhood is.”

“Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria” is the company’s first move into Queens, although according to Janes, who was living in Astoria in 2007, the borough was the inspiration for both the company and book with the same name.

“With each passing year we hope to expand until we have tours throughout the whole city, but we will always have a special place in our hearts for Queens: the original borough of the dead,” Janes said.

There are two time slots for the Astoria tour on June 27, 3 and 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. The tour will then be offered again on Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. and plans are to offer the tour throughout October as well.

For more information visit, boroughsofthedead.com.


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