I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published June 18th 2010
The dead talk back. Just ask Drew Raphael, founder of Dead Apple Tours, Manhattan's newest professionally guided tour of offbeat sites, notable because they are the places where the formerly famous—or infamous—have expired. Want to learn where Heath Ledger spent his final hours? How about the site where famed street artist Keith Haring succumbed or where Sex Pistols' bass guitarist Sid Vicious drew his last breath? If information about the macabre and surreal captivates you, you'll want to take this unusual tour through the downtown or uptown sections of Manhattan.
Also unique is the method in which you'll be traveling. In a semi-private setting, you and few others will be driven around the city in Desdemona, a vintage, 1960 Cadillac Superior Crown Royale combination hearse, one of only 478 produced. Fully restored to perfection, with an interior and seats decked out in crushed red velvet, you'll have relaxing and unparalleled views of the sites while simultaneously being treated to a multimedia presentation on monitors that offer further gruesome details about New York's most ill-fated and misfortunate residents. Plenty of interesting New York history is also on tap in the comprehensive two-hour tour, such as the dark and untold stories about some of Gotham's most well known buildings (jumpers), bridges (untimely construction deaths), and parks (potter's fields). Highlights include the creepiest facts about New York that you've never heard, while supporting documentation is presented on a variety of interior screens.
Raphael, who has dubbed the tour "the living history of New York's deceased," is in love with retelling the stories of the city's most eccentric characters. Is it fair to capitalize on those who met their fates in the city of dreams? It is when the journey is this unique and satisfying—and cheaper that riding around town in a yellow cab or a double-decker open-air bus. Get tickets here; the dead are calling...