A visit to Albuquerque’s Downtown this Halloween season doesn’t have to be just about bar hopping.
The Albuquerque Tourism & Sightseeing Factory (AT&SF) is offering a visit to eight of Downtown’s reportedly most haunted spots for $22.
The 90-minute tour (nightly through Halloween, Fridays-Saturdays year-round) starts at 8 p.m. in the basement of the Old First National Bank Building at 219 Central Ave.
The basement is not accessible by elevator and its stairwell can only be entered from the second floor. Tour guide Blake Starr said that was most likely a tactic to slow down would-be bank robbers.
The now mostly residential building was constructed in 1922 and was the city’s first skyscraper, according to event organizers. Tour organizers interviewed several employees from Downtown to verify or compile information for the stories.
Several people, according to Starr, have talked about seeing apparitions or people who are there one minute and gone the next. Each ghost featured on the tour is said to have reached some untimely, gruesome death or lived a miserable life.
For ghost hunters or believers in the supernatural, the tour offers plenty of gory lore and for skeptics it’s an interesting history of one of the oldest areas of the city. It was the second part of Albuquerque to be settled after Old Town.
Austin, Texas, resident Tin Pham and his fiance were in Albuquerque recently for a reunion. It was their first time to the city and Pham, an experienced ghost tour participant, decided to experience the Downtown scenery through the tour.
“I really like the history you learn and the architecture you see during these kind of tours,” he said. “And I do believe in ghosts.”
After leading participants into the bank basement, which is only lit by a single lamp carried by tour guide Jordan Jonas, Starr offers a little pop quiz to see if the audience can identify authentic photos of spirits. He then offers some tips on how to recognize a real ghost in a photo.
The next stop is a corner near the Hotel Andaluz. The hotel opened in 1939 and was built by Socorro County native Conrad Hilton of the mega hotel empire. Starr said Hilton honeymooned there with his wife, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor.
The tour moves along making a stop at the Broadway underpass near the Convention Center. Several ghost stories are told from this dark spot near a guard shack. There’s also a stop at the Kimo Theatre home of a longtime ghost legend.
One of the creepier stops on the tour is the alley behind a former laundromat. On this particular night, a strong wind picks up at the moment the tour participants enter the alley, sending plastic bags into the air in a circular motion.
One plastic bag in particular follows the tour through the alley. Ghost or strong wind? Nobody will say for sure what they think but it’s this stop that the four people on the tour that night say had the best creep factor.
One of the final stops of the night is across the street from the Bank of Albuquerque on Copper and Third Street. Starr said it’s a spot with reports of several ghost sightings. Starr explains that the block was once referred to as Hell’s Half-Acre District because it was home to the city’s brothel, which sprang up after the arrival of the railroad in 1880.
“It wouldn’t be unusual for residents walking through here in the early morning to see women who had displeased their customers to be dangling from the lamp poles,” he said. “The city eventually shut the whole thing down after complaints.”
There will still be plenty of time for visiting the local watering holes after the tour and AT&SF can help with that as well. The company is offering the Pub Crawl-oween Oct. 28, 29 and 30 (Oct. 31 is already sold out) for $25 a person. A ticket buys a spot on the Duke City Pedaler, a multi-passenger vehicle powered with pedals, that will make stops at local bars Downtown.