Jack the Ripper: Dark Tourism and the Gutter Press

Jack the Ripper was a media sensation. The press frenzy surrounding him made the sites of his murders tourist destinations, attracting thousands of visitors.

 IPN front page following the murder of Annie Chapman and revisiting the previous victims, 15 September 1888. British Library/Bridgeman Images.

In 2020 Britain’s official mapping body, the Ordnance Survey, removed from its library of maps a three-mile walking tour of London salaciously entitled ‘Guts and Garters in the Ripper’s East End’. The tour, as the name suggests, had guided tourists around the sites of the unsolved 1888 Whitechapel Ripper murders. The move to scrap it was backed by local residents, many of whom had also protested the Jack the Ripper Museum, which had opened in 2015. Originally billed as a ‘women’s history museum’, it turned out instead to comprise exhibitions featuring models of the Ripper’s dead victims against a looped soundtrack of women screaming. There was also a gift shop. Nonetheless, as soon as Covid-19 lockdowns were lifted, dozens of East End Jack the Ripper walking tours resumed. Visitors to London today can choose from over 50 such tours, ranging in tone from proper to prurient, from historical to horrible.

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