Day 69

What else could I be talking about but a New York City woman!? 

Her name is Lina Viviano and she’s the founder of New York Gotham Walking Tours. I spent Friday night on Lina’s fantastic Haunted Greenwich Village tour and besides my fashion faux pas (do not — I repeat, DO NOT wear boots and fishnet stockings for a December night walk through the village unless, of course, you are a man in drag) it was one of the best nights I’ve ever spent in the city that didn’t involve food or alcohol.

Come to think of it, it might be the single best alcohol-free night I’ve spent in the city in 20 years.

I bet you didn’t know that there are 15,000 bodies buried under Washington Square Park. Or that Greenwich Village used to be known as African City?  Or that John Wilkes Booth visited his boyhood friend in the Village several times in the month leading up to Lincoln’s assassination.

Uh huh, I thought so.

We learned this, and so much more, on Lina’s 2.5 hours guided walking tour that began at the Washington Square Arch and wound past the site of Henry & William James’ childhood home, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire (lots of Italian and Yiddish speaking ghosts reported there), an ill-fated speakeasy on Gay Street where burly construction workers repeatedly report seeing a ghostly man in top hat and tails, and the fabulously romantic restaurant One If By Land Two if By Sea, where the ghost of Aaron Burr’s daughter reportedly strips off women’s earrings and places them mischievously on the bar while the customers blithely enjoy their cocktails. 

Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Irving, Edna St. Vincent Millay, FDR’s dog Fala, Edith Wharton, Sanford White, and the old “hanging elm” (yep, that’s where they hung people) on the southwest corner of WSqPark, also had a places in the evenings’ yarns, which I heard accompanied by more than a dozen other walkers from all across the country.  

You don’t have to believe in ghosts to enjoy Lina’s NYC walks — she does lots of other types of tours. And you don’t have to pay a lot, either ($25 each — although Frank and I were her guests on Friday). But you do have to be prepared to keep your eyes and ears open. And on a cold December evening, do yourself a favor and leave the fishnets at home!

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