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Are You Afraid of the Dark?

This Halloween, venture out on these tours of area graveyards to discover scary and unsettling historical tales.


Paranormal Investigation at the Lawrence Cemetery
216th Ave. at 42nd Ave., Bayside; 718-352-1548; Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 3–5 p.m.; $10 ($8 for Bayside Historical Society members), reservations suggested
Bored with the five Paranormal Activity movies? Go to the nineteenth-century Lawrence Cemetery in Queens for a chance to see the real thing. The Seekers Club, a group of hobbyist detectives of the occult, will lead attendees on a live paranormal investigation where you can learn their techniques and find the spiritual ambiguities all around you. (Was that creak you heard just warped wood? Are you sure?)

Murder & Mayhem in Sleepy Hollow
540 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; Oct. 20 and 27, 7 p.m.; $25, advance reservations required
Take the train north to Sleepy Hollow (and pass the time rereading Washington Irving’s famous short story if you're so inclined) for the village cemetery’s themed “Murder & Mayhem” tour. You'll hear about more obscure, local tales of horror like grave robberies, “the wickedest woman in New York” (a persecuted nineteenth-century abortionist), and a black widow whose seven husbands all met unfortunate demises. You can visit Irving’s grave while you're there, too, but remember to watch out for Ichabod.
Note: Take the Metro North–Hudson Line to Philipse Manor station. From there, the cemetery is within walking distance.

A Spirited Stroll Through Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street, at Fifth Ave., Brooklyn; 718-210-3080; Oct. 26–27, 1–3 p.m.; $20 ($15 for Green-Wood members)
Green-Wood's well-maintained 478 acres are much less grim than your typical boneyard and make for a picture-perfect autumn ramble. This tour is bit more demanding physically, but you’ll see the graves of the Wizard of Oz (or rather, the actor who played him), George Washington’s dentist, and the founders of Spiritualism. You also get to delve into the usually restricted catacombs, full of buried tombs that resemble ancient prison cells.

Crypt Crawl at St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 112th St.; 212-316-7540; Oct. 26, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m.; $20 ($15 for students and seniors)
Crane your neck to take in the entirety of St. John’s majestic interior, because once you make the subterranean pilgrimage into the crypt, the view will be quite different. You'll explore the tombs with cathedral guides, and hear the history of how Halloween evolved from a Celtic New Year celebration to All Hallow's Eve. Flashlight required, lest you want to be left alone in the darkness.

The Sacred Departed Tour at Woodlawn Cemetery
Jerome Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx; 212-935-2075; Oct. 30, 7 p.m.; $25 ($20 for Municipal Art Society members)
Get a masterful history lesson from the Municipal Art Society, where your classroom will be the vast Woodlawn Cemetery. While the twilight tour will have its share of grim interest—a mausoleum built in the image of the Egyptian “City of the Dead,” and certain deadly stories from Sing Sing Prison—its angle is more academic, focusing on the varied cultural connotations of Halloween.

That Which Has Been Forgotten
Main Entrance, Cemetery of the Evergreens, 1629 Bushwick Ave., at Conway St., Bushwick; Oct 27, 12–3 p.m.; $20 ($15 for Greater Astoria Historical Society members)
If you take your macabre a little toned down, with overtones of history, erasure, and the incremental forgetting that plagues all of us, celebrate Halloween with Kevin Walsh, the founder of Forgotten NY. He will guide you through the leafy Cemetery of the Evergreens, where you’ll pass the graves of cartoonist “Little Nemo” Winsor McCray, “Father of Vaudeville” Tony Pastor, and “Woman of Manners” Amy Vanderbilt.

Victorian Ghost Stories in Pell Cemetery
895 Shore Road, Bronx; 718-885-1461; Oct. 26, 7 p.m.; $20 ($15 seniors and students)
In this Bronx cemetery, you’ll walk past eighteenth-century graves and notice the knot of fear in your stomach expand as the City Island Theater Group stages a reading of creepy Victorian ghost stories.

Paranormal Investigation and Candle Light Cemetery Tour With Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries
1642 Richmond Terrace, at Alaska St., Staten Island; 917-545-3309; SICemetery@gmail.com, Oct. 26 and 31, 6:15 p.m., 8 p.m.; $20
Hop on the ferry and make your way to Fountain Cemetery, New York City's oldest abandoned graveyard, which also happens to be a Native American burial ground. (The first “resident” was buried 212 years ago.) You can expect that the tour will “highlight the frequent visitation of spirits” and the guides emphasize that some souls cannot find rest. Wielding recording devices and cameras is encouraged.

Or ... Go It Alone in New York's Creepiest Graveyard
8230 Cypress Hills St., at Cypress Ave., Flushing
Machpelah Cemetery itself seems to be dying. Its spookiness stems from the obvious neglect and its crowded and swollen burial plots. Within the cemetery's wilting center rests the great magician Harry Houdini, who died on October 31, 1926. If tours aren’t your thing, don’t worry—tours do not come here. Visit Houdini’s grave on your own and see the only structure that could confine the legendary magician who so easily overcame handcuffs, water tanks, and coffins during his lifetime. The history of Houdini’s grave site is full of vandalism and theft, but stone is just a material. His secrets are safe.

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