Occult New York: A Manhattan Walking Tour with Mitch Horowitz

horowitz_occultamerica(Back by popular demand!!!)

Date: Sunday, May 22nd
Time: 2pm sharp – 4pm
Admission: $25 cash per person
***SOLD OUT***, but email phantasmaphile [at] gmail.com if you’d like to be added to the waitlist

Time Out magazine calls it a “can’t-miss event” featuring “seldom-told stories of New York’s mystical history”

Presented by Phantasmaphile

*We will be meeting at 2pm at the front gates of Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue just north of East 29th Street, in front of the bronze statue of Norman Vincent Peale.

**You must RSVP to phantasmaphile [at] gmail.com if you plan on attending, as we have a 40 person maximum for this event.

Long before the “Aquarian Age” hit California, America’s laboratories of spiritual experiment were in the tenements of Hell’s Kitchen, the metaphysical churches built in New York’s old cow pastures, and the lodges nestled among Manhattan office buildings. Join Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America, for a walking tour to explore New York City’s astonishing – and overlooked – role in igniting the occult revival and the revolutions in alternative spirituality that swept America (and the world) from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Discover little-known landmarks of our underground spiritual legacy, such as:

The New York New Church. This beautifully restored Renaissance-revival Swedenborgian church was a wellspring of supernatural ideas in America in the mid-nineteenth century, when its pulpit was presided over by Spiritualist minister George Bush – ancestor to the Bush presidential clan.

Fred F. French Building. This jewel of the art deco movement of the early-twentieth century is a landmark of esoteric symbols and hidden imagery, designed by an aficionado of the occult who left his mysterious markings on apartment and office buildings across New York City.

Marble Collegiate Church. From the pulpit of this Romanesque church (and one of America’s earliest congregations) the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale spread the philosophy of “positive thinking” throughout America – a spiritual system built on American mystical teachings.

Occult Grand Central. The crowning edifice of the beaux-arts architectural movement, Grand Central Station forms a temple of esoteric and mythical imagery (some of it hand-picked by the Vanderbilt family), including magnificent statues of Hermes, Athena, and Hercules, and a domed ceiling featuring one of the largest and most intriguing zodiac murals in the world.

Esoteric Lodges. The tour identifies and discusses remarkable and little-known spiritual lodges nestled along midtown Manhattan streets that many of us walk down each day.

The Lamasery. In the 1870s this west-side tenement housed the salon of the occult Theosophical Society, whose earliest members included Thomas Edison, Major-General Abner Doubleday, and the mysterious Russian noblewoman Madame Blavatsky. This is where Civil War-era Colonel Henry Steel Olcott said he was visited by mysterious “Masters” who heralded the dawn of a new spiritual age.

Here is an unforgettable opportunity to experience a lively and up-close overview of the “secret history” found right in our own neighborhoods. Plus a few surprises along the way…

A widely known writer and speaker on the history and impact of alternative spirituality, Mitch Horowitz is the editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin and the author of Occult America (Bantam), which The Washington Post Book World called: “Fascinating…a serious, wide-ranging study of all the magical, mystical, and spiritual movements that have arisen and influenced American history in often-surprising ways.” The book received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Horowitz has written for The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and BoingBoing, and has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, and All Things Considered. Visit him online at www.MitchHorowitz.com

FIELD TRIP: Guided Tour and Behind the Scenes Viewing of The Murtogh D. Guinness Automaton Collection at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey


Clown Illusionist Automaton; Made by Jean or Henry Phalibois, Paris, France, c. 1890-1900

Date: Sunday, February 20th
Time: 12 PM – 4 PM (Bus pickup and drop-off at Observatory)

Admission: $45
*** MUST RSVP to morbidanatomy [at] gmail.com
*** PLEASE NOTE: Trip limited to a maximum of 30 attendees; Admission fee Includes round trip transportation via chartered bus, tour cost, a Guinness beer, and museum admission.
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Many people have no idea that one of the finest collections of antique automata–moving mechanical toys popular in the 18th Century and 19th Centuries– in the world resides not in London or Paris but 25 miles away from New York City in Morristown, New Jersey.

This collection–compiled over 50 years by Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002), heir to the Guinness beer fortune–consists of 700 historic automata and mechanical musical instruments as well as more than 5,000 programmed media, ranging from player piano rolls to pinned cylinders. Guinness regarded the collection as his life’s work, and he traveled the globe to search of the finest surviving pieces of their kind. Many of the automata in the collection were made in France in the 19th Century and represent a broad array of subjects including snake charmers, magicians, singing birds, musicians, animals, and anthropomorphic monkeys enacting a variety of human situations. Together, these objects constitute one of the largest public holdings of automata in the United States.

On Sunday, February 20th, join Observatory and Morbid Anatomy for a special guided tour of this incredible collection, one of the most significant of its kind in the world. Guinness Collection Conservator Jeremy Ryder will lead us on an hour-long tour of the collection; on this tour, he will guide us through of the permanent exhibit Musical Machines & Living Dolls featuring 150 pieces from the spectacular collection, explain the techniques and history of these incredible objects, demonstrate automata in action, and show us pieces rarely on display to the general public.

After the tour, attendees will be given approximately an hour of free time with which to take in the other exhibitions at the museum such as Frank H. Netter, MD Michelangelo of Medicine–featuring more than 40 works of art by this acclaimed master of medical illustrations–and the museum’s excellent permanent collection which includes costumes and textiles, fine art, decorative art, dolls and toys, natural science, geology and paleontology, and anthropology; more about the museum can be found at www.morrismuseum.org.

At the day’s end, our chartered bus will pick up us and we will enjoy a toast to Mr. Guinness and his fantastic collection with a Guinness beer (naturally!) on our drive back to New York City.

Trip Details: The $45 event cost of this event includes round trip transportation on a special chartered bus from Observatory to the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey and back again, as well as museum admission, tour cost, and one Guinness beer per person. The bus will pick up and drop off in front of Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevins Street). Pick up is 12:00 noon sharp and drop off approximately 4:00 PM. Attendees will have approximately 1 hour of free time to view the rest of the museum collection.