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New York City’s spookiest, most haunted places

Posted by admin on October 3, 2019
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In its more than 400-year history, New York City has seen its fair share of ghosts, goblins, and other creepy-crawlies—and no corner of the city is safe from paranormal activity, whether it’s a nondescript Soho building or one of the most famous landmarks in the five boroughs. And what better time is there than Halloween to revisit the haunted histories of some of the city’s many buildings? [Source:Curbed]

Read on for spooky stories from a variety of spots throughout the city, and let us know if we left your favorite—or scariest—place off the list.

1. St. Paul’s Chapel

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209 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
(212) 602-0874

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St. Paul’s Chapel has survived a lot of tragedies since its opening in 1766, and its graveyard, which dates to 1697, is said to be haunted by many of its occupants. One of the 17th-century graves belongs to the English actor George Frederick Cooke, who loved to gamble. When he lost all of his money, he sold his head for research, and a headless ghost has been seen wondering the graveyard and a nearby alley where there used to be a theater.

2. Tweed Courthouse

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52 Chambers St
New York, NY 10007
(212) 639-9675

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William “Boss” Tweed left tales of terror across the city, but ironically, it’s the eponymous courthouse where he was sentenced for his crimes that his spirit reportedly likes to revisit. He was sentenced in 1873 and died five years later in prison. Tweed has been spotted in the courtroom where he was sentenced, and in one instance, the night watchmen became so frightened by noises and ghostly figures in the corridors that they refused to enter the building.

3. The Manhattan Well

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129 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012

In the winter of 1800, the body of a young woman named Gulielma Sands was found at the bottom of the Manhattan Well, located at what is now 129 Spring Street. The ensuing trial was one of the great scandals of 19th-century New York, with Levi Weeks (brother of influential builder Ezra Weeks) accused of her murder after he reportedly impregnated and promised to marry her. Weeks retained the city’s top attorneys (including Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton) and was acquitted, despite growing public outrage. In 1817, the Manhattan Well was filled in and built over, but it was rediscovered in 1980, and is now home to an outpost of Swedish clothing brand COS.

4. 85 West 3rd Street

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85 West 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012

Now part of NYU’s Furman Hall, 85 West 3rd Street was occupied by Edgar Allan Poe for eight months in 1844 and 1845. It was there that he wrote his classic story “The Cask of Amontillado” and at least part of “The Raven.” Nowadays, the only part of the original residence that remains is the banister and Poe’s ghost has been seen climbing it by spooked law students.

 
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5. 84 West 3rd Street

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84 West 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012

Right across the street from 85 West 3rd is another haunted building: a disused fire station converted into a private residence (and home to Anderson Cooper!). The building is apparently haunted by the ghost of “Firefighter Schwartz,” who hanged himself from the rafters after learning of his wife’s infidelity in 1930. Over the years, firefighters have reported strange noises coming from the attic, and have even seen his hanging corpse.

 
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6. Merchant’s House Museum

 

29 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
212-777-1089

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While some haunted houses might attempt to shed their notorious reputations, the Merchant’s House Museum in the East Village revels in it. Built in 1832 and later bought by wealthy merchant Seabury Tredwell, the museum is an immaculate look into the personal domestic lives of the 19th-century cultural elite, but the ghost of Tredwell’s daughter, Gertrude—a lonely, sheltered spinster whose life was supposedly the basis of Henry James’ Washington Square Park—reportedly still haunts the place.

7. Washington Square Park

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W 4th St
New York, NY 10012

Today it’s overrun with NYU students and street artists, but long before any New Yorkers moved in, the land that’s now Washington Square Park was used as a burial ground. During yellow fever outbreaks from 1791 to 1821, the city used the land as a mass grave. The park was established in 1827, a year after human remains were accidentally dug up during a parade. Archaeologists recently uncovered more human remains below the park.

8. St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery

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131 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 674-6377

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St. Mark’s Chruch in-the-Bowery is the second-oldest church in Manhattan, splitting from Trinity Church in 1799. Built on Dutch colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant’s family farm, legend has it that the cantankerous, peg-legged Dutchman still haunts the area. He’s been known to harass clergymen and parishioners, ring the bells, and loudly interrupt services by stomping around and singing Calvinist hymns in Dutch. Apparently, English Episcopal hymns simply don’t agree with him.

The exterior of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery in New York City. The facade is brown brick with white columns. There is a tall spire with a clock.
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9. 12 Gay Street

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12 Gay Street
New York, NY 10014

Gay Street is arguably one of the most picturesque blocks in New York, and the quaint brick townhouse at No. 12 is no exception. The building served as a speakeasy called The Pirate’s Den during Prohibition and was purchased by the corrupt (yet wildly popular) Mayor Jimmy Walker as a home for his mistress, Ziegfeld girl Betty Compton. Neighbors insist that ghostly flappers and the Gay Street Phantom—a dapper gent in a cloak and top hat—still lurk late at night; if that’s not creepy enough, the property was later bought by Frank Paris, the creator of notorious hell-puppet Howdy Doody.

Gay Street in New York City. There are assorted attached colorful buildings that are on both sides of the street.
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10. 14 West 10th Street

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14 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

This beautiful townhouse has been called the most haunted building in New York, with as many as 22 ghosts calling it home, earning it the sobriquet “The House of Death.” Mark Twain lived here from 1900 to 1901 and claimed that he himself had experienced supernatural incidents. Throughout the 20th century, 14 West 10th Street was the site of several gruesome incidents, including a murder-suicide and the beating death of six-year-old Lisa Steinberg at the hands of her adopted father, prominent attorney Joel Steinberg, in 1987. The specter of Twain himself—white suit and all—has been seen ascending the staircase.

11. Hotel Chelsea

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222 W 23rd St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-3700

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This storied Chelsea building has played host to a number of iconic artists throughout its more than 100-year history, including Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Mark Twain, Allen Ginsberg, and Dylan Thomas. But it’s probably known more for its creepy stories: There’s the murder of Nancy Spungen, allegedly by her boyfriend, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious; there’s also a ghost named Mary, a passenger on the ill-fated Titantic who survived, though her husband died in the tragic accident. Supposedly, she can be seen staring at her reflection in mirrors throughout the hotel.

The exterior of Hotel Chelsea in New York City. The facade is red brick and there is a large sign that reads: Hotel Chelsea. There are black balconies in front of multiple exterior windows.
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12. Empire State Building

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350 5th Ave
New York, NY 10118
(212) 736-3100

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Dozens of people have attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Empire State Building, but one death plagues the tower more than others. In her 2013 book Ghosts and Murders of Manhattan, Elise Gainer writes that people have “seen a woman appear on the observation deck attired in 1940s-period clothing, her lips painted red. Startled witnesses have reported her muttering about the death of her fiance in Germany and then throwing herself over the barrier.” This could be the ghost of Evelyn McHale, a 23-year-old who leapt to her death in May 1947. She landed on a limousine, and the portrait taken of her corpse atop the crumpled car has been called “the most beautiful suicide.”

13. The Campbell Apartment

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15 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017

A few years ago, our friends at Eater reported on the supposed haunting of the Campbell Apartment, the lavish commuter bar in Grand Central Terminal that was once the office and salon of financier John W. Campbell, who died in 1957. (It reopened in 2017 as the Campbell.) According to owner Mark Grossich, employees have felt strange presences, including something pushing them from behind and bursts of cold air, and some have even reported seeing “an old, fashionably dressed couple sitting and having a cocktail on the balcony when the place was completely closed.”

14. New Amsterdam Theater

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214 W 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 282-2900

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One of the oldest theaters in New York is supposedly haunted by a woman named Olive Thomas, once called “the most beautiful girl in New York.” She died in 1920 under mysterious circumstances in France—some think her husband murdered her—and she began appearing to stagehands shortly after her death. Even after Disney bought the theater in 1995, she has kept up her startling appearances, but she only shows herself to men.

The New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. There are rows of seats, a stage with an orange curtain, and stage lights. The walls are decorated in ornamental design.
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15. Belasco Theatre

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111 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

Midtown’s Belasco Theatre is not only an architecturally notable; it’s also garnered attention for its most spirited resident, the ghost of its namesake David Belasco. Multiple sources claim that there have been consistent sightings of a spirit in Belasco’s image and likeness wearing a clerical collar and cassock, garb he frequently wore when he was alive and that led to his nicknames, the “Bishop of Broadway” and “the monk.”

The exterior of the Belasco Theatre in New York City. The exterior is red brick and there are arched windows. There is a yellow taxi cab traveling on the street in front of the theater.
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16. Radio City Music Hall

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1260 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
(212) 307-7171

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Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, the impresario who was part of the team that created Radio City Music Hall and the man that brought the Rockettes to New York, still has a presence at the theater, even though he died in 1936. Ushers report finding his seat down at the end of the night, after they’ve put all the others up, and other stories “tell of his ghost walking to his seat with a stunning woman on his arm.” There have also been reports of ghost-like activity in his private apartment in the theater, which is still maintained.

17. The Dakota

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1 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023

The Dakota is known for its featured role in Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror classic Rosemary’s Baby and as the site of John Lennon’s assassination, but the legendary Central Park West building has a long history of supernatural encounters in its own right. Over the years, workers and residents have reported seeing a friendly little girl dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing, an adult with the face of a small boy, and even the ghost of Lennon himself.

The exterior of The Dakota in New York City. The facade is tan brick and there is a flagpole with a United States Flag attached to the roof. There are cars on the street in front of the building.
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18. The Morris-Jumel Mansion

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65 Jumel Terrace
New York, NY 10032
(212) 923-8008

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One of the oldest houses in Manhattan, this stately Georgian mansion in Washington Heights was built by Roger Morris—a colonel in the British army—in 1765. It served as military headquarters for both sides of the Revolution, with George Washington retreating here after the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. In 1810, the house was bought by Stephen Jumel and his wife Eliza, and after his suspicious death, she remarried Aaron Burr, the former Vice President and killer of Alexander Hamilton. Since at least the 1960s, rumors of the supernatural have persisted, when a group of rowdy schoolchildren allegedly saw the ghostly visage of Eliza Jumel, who told them to quiet down before gliding away.

The exterior of the Morris Jumel Mansion in New York City. The facade is white and there are columns and a balcony on the front of the building.
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19. 136 Clinton Avenue

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136 Clinton Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

This Brooklyn townhouse was built in the 1840s and is now both an individual city landmark (designated as such in 2001) and part of the Wallabout Historic District, comprising several blocks near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This particular house is routinely referred to as one of the most haunted residences in New York, thanks to a bout of paranormal activity that plagued its former owner, Edward F. Smith, in the late 19th century. It’s currently for sale for $3.6 million.

The exterior of 136 Clinton Avenue. The facade is white and there are columns. There is a tree in the foreground in front of the house.

20. The Conference House

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298 Satterlee Street
Staten Island, NY 10307
(718) 984-6046

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Located at the southernmost tip of Staten Island, this colonial manor was used by loyalist Colonel Christopher Billop as a way station for British forces during the Revolutionary War. It also hosted the unsuccessful Staten Island Peace Conference on September 11, 1776, with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge in attendance. In 1779, Billop suspected a 15-year-old serving girl of spying for the rebels and allegedly killed her by throwing her down a flight of stairs, and supposedly her ghost can still be heard screaming today. [Source:Curbed]

The exterior of The Conference House in Staten Island, New York City. The facade is stone with a moss covered roof. There are trees and fallen leaves in front of the house.
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