New York City holds so much history, the list of haunted places could go on forever. Some places have particularly unique stories that embody the spirits of historical NYC. Take in the creepy spirit of October by visiting these famous ghosts!
St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest church in Manhattan, originally built in 1764. The cemetery of this famous church is the home to a headless actor that walks around at night looking for his head.
The second largest church in Manhattan, built in 1795, is said to be haunted by Dutch colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant. The church was built over where his family’s farm used to be. His peg-legged ghost is known to interrupt church services with stomping, singing, and ringing of the church bells.
One of the most haunted places in New York City, this church as built on a cemetery and has many spirits roaming around. Some of the most notable early Americans are buried in its small cemetery, one of them being Alexander Hamilton. The ghosts of a pastor and bell ringer who were murdered in the building most commonly make their presence known.
This hotel is not only famous for hosting cultural icons and celebrities, but also for random, tragic deaths. Nancy Spungen, the girlfriend of Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, died in room 100 in 1978. Both are rumored to haunt the hotel. Poet and writer Dylan Thomas also haunts the hotel. He slipped into a coma in room 206 in 1953. See the White Horse Tavern story below.
One of the most notable hotels in New York, the Algonquin is known for hosting some of the most legendary icons (and legendary spirits). The Vicious Circle, a group of writers, critics, and artistic elites, came to have lunch at the Algonquin every day for 10 years. Their conversations and collaborations evolved some of the most prized theatrical works of the century. The room in which they met has been transformed into a restaurant in which kids cry and run out, presumably because Dorothy Parker never liked kids.
The owner, David Belasco, used to live in an apartment over the theater with his companion who was referred to as “the Blue Lady.” In 1931, Belasco died and his spirit still remains in the theater. He and the Blue Lady have been seen on stage during performances, in the elevator, and in the audience.
Old Hollywood actress Olive Thomas, who died mysteriously in 1920, haunts this theater in which she had performed. Deemed as “the most beautiful woman on earth,” Thomas’s suspicious death by mercury overdose was the first of dark Hollywood scandals.
This theater is known mostly for its vaudeville stage. According to Playbill, more than one hundred ghosts haunt it. Judy Garland’s spirit hangs out near a door that was built especially for her. Also seen is a little boy playing with a toy truck in the mezzanine, a lady cellist in the orchestra, and a sad girl in the balcony. The ghost of tight-rope walker and acrobat Louis Borsalino reenacts stunts and “lets out blood-curdling screams.” It’s said that if you see Borsalino, you’ll die within a year.
Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, the showman behind Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes, passed away in 1936 but still attends opening nights.
From 1844 until 1846, Edgar Allan Poe lived here at 85 West 3rd Street. However, in 2001, the building was demolished to build NYU’s Furman Hall. The exterior facade recreates Poe’s house but the only original structure left standing from it is the banister inside. Students have said that they see the ghost of Poe hanging out on the banister.
Right across from Furman Hall, at 84 West 3rd Street, is an old firehouse that Anderson Cooper purchased and remodeled in 2010. Firefighters that used to work in the building claim to have seen the ghost of “Firefighter Schwartz” who hanged himself inside after learning about his wife’s infidelity in the 1930s.
The first luxury apartment building in New York City (and perhaps the most famous apartment building in the world, was built in 1884 and has a long history of paranormal activity. John Lennon last lived here and was shot and killed in the entrance. Yoko Ono claims to have seen his ghost sitting at the piano.
Deemed as “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House” by The New York Times, this residence is the only 19th century home that is completely preserved in New York City. It is said to be haunted by the Tredwell family, who lived in the house for nearly 100 years. Now open to the public, the house is known for paranormal activity and strange happenings.
This famous residence in which Mark Twain resided in 1900-1901 is supposedly haunted by over 20 ghosts. The ghost of Twain dressed in a white suit has been seen in the home and one woman claims he even spoke to her, saying “My name is Clemens and I has a problem here I gotta settle.” In 1987, former New York criminal defense attorney Joel Steinberg beat his 6-year old adopted daughter to death. He was released from prison in 2004 but the spirit of little Lisa still haunts the house.
In the 1920s, showgirl Edna Crawford was beaten to death with a telephone in her penthouse by her badtempered lover Charles Brazelle. Her bodyguards then threw Brazelle out the window. After a few years of sitting vacant, Carlton Alsop rented out the penthouse and was immediately tormented by ghostly arguing and sounds of Edna’s high heels walking on the floor. Alsop’s dogs had nervous breakdowns, his wife left him, and Alsop was committed to a mental institution. Neighbors still say they hear the sounds of Edna’s last days.
Formally known as the Leffers-Laidlaw House, this beautiful estate in the Wallabout neighborhood was a common sight of strange activity in December 1878. Every night for three weeks, the doorbell rang, doors opened and rattled, and bricks flew through windows. Police staked out the house, set traps, and searched for a mechanical explanation but nothing was ever found.
Built in 1827 and formerly used as a speakeasy, the property was purchased by former New York City mayor Jimmy Walker as a place for his mistress to stay. Now, it is rumored to creak with footsteps and sights of flappers and men in top hats are seen walking in the windows and on the street outside.
This romantic restaurant in the West Village is notorious for ghostly activity. The staff attests to feelings of constant presence around them. They have seen plates flying and flickering lights, feel drafts and occasionally are pushed by no one. They have even tried serving these spirits that they feel are craving life and attention. Parapsychologists and psychics believe there are 20 active ghosts in the building, all from different time periods.
This building was originally constructed in 1770, as the home to James Brown, an African aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. When James Brown passed in the mid-1800s, the establishment transitioned into a bar and restaurant for the many sailors that came through. Friendly sailor ghosts have been known to make appearances. Most famous is the ghost of Mickey, who either drank himself to death or was struck by a car on the street in front of the bar. He is still waiting for his clipper ship to come into the harbor.
Arguably one of the most haunted bars in NYC, White Horse Tavern is known to be haunted by the spirit of poet Dylan Thomas. It is here that Dylan Thomas presumably drank 18 shots of whiskey to beat his personal record, then stumbled outside and passed out on the ground. He was then taken to Hotel Chelsea where he entered a coma and later died in St. Vincent’s Hospital.
This saloon was built in 1868 and catered to dockworkers, sailors, and Irish immigrants. There are known to be three ghosts that still hang around the tavern. A tough guy who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, a Confederate Civil War veteran who died in the bathtub upstairs from a knife fight, and a little Irish girl who died in her bed.
This 1920s commissary catered to old movie stars and film crew. Today, visitors claim to have seen a woman with a vintage cigarette holder smoking in the bathroom. The spirit of Rudolph Valentino, a silent-film actor who died in 1926, has been known to haunt the bar as well.
This lavish cocktail bar in Grand Central Station was once the office and salon of John Campbell, a major financial figure in the 1920s. Between it’s reopening as a fancy bar in the late 90s, it served as a police utility closet and a jail. The ghosts that roam the bar are friendly and glamorous 1920s figures, according to multiple interviews with the owner and staff.
This restaurant, now owned by Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, has long had the activity of paranormal spirits. The restaurant was built in 1844 and is haunted by a ghost that is dressed in 1920s fashion. The most interesting occurrence is the presence of fire that appears to be ghostly acts. Stories are told of the fireplace not catching a spark until one turns away from it and candles lighting randomly. The establishment has also broken out in fire twice, with no disclosed cause.
One of the most infamous unsolved murder mysteries in New York City involves a centuries-old well that still stands in a COS store in Soho. In 1799, Gulielma Sands headed out of her Greenwich Street boarding home to meet her secret lover, to be found eleven days later at the bottom of this very well. Her lover was tried for murder but was acquitted by his defense team which included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. In the following decades, Spring Street was built on the meadow that held the well. It wasn’t until 1980 that the building’s owner decided to excavate and found the seven-foot tall well.
This Brooklyn public pool is apparently haunted by a little girl that drowned there. She has been seen roaming the area at night, calling for help. Many homeless people have also died of various causes while taking refuge on the premises.
In the 19th century, gangs ruled the streets now known as Little Italy. The Mulberry Boys along with many powerful Italian mob families resided in the area. In 1972, Crazy Joe was shot dead at the original Umberto’s Clam House. The street is said to be haunted by the victims of violent gang murders.
Long before this was a popular park, the site was a burial ground. The early Native Americans used to gather and bury bodies here. After the Revolutionary War and yellow fever epidemic, nearly 20,000 bodies were buried in the park. The park is also home to Hangman’s Elm, the oldest tree in NYC, which is 334 years old. Some people believe the tree was used for public hangings, but historians disagree. Nevertheless, this park is filled with tens of thousands of spirits.
This early 1900s courthouse was built by corrupt politician William Tweed. He used the construction to embezzle millions of dollars and later died in jail. Many people, especially night guards and janitors, account for seeing Tweed’s ghost.
The bridge connecting Astoria and Randall’s Island runs over an area of East River known for jagged rocks and harsh waters, hence the name Hell Gate. During the 1850s, an average of a thousand ships crashed and sunk in this area of the river. The legend says if you see a train stop on the bridge in the middle of the night, it is letting out the ghosts of lives lost on the ships.
The hauntings in this museum include chilling sounds and sights. While no historical events link to the ghosts inside, many guests and employees claim to hear a deep, man’s voice and see an African American woman in a white dress wandering around.
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