The 6 Most Haunted Places in NYC
October 24 2017 | Culture
Halloween is just fun and games, right? It’s a night for the kids (and adults!) to get dressed up, score a bag full of candy, share some good laughs, and spend the ensuing weeks in a perpetual sugar high. Spirits don’t actually haunt the city’s graveyards or float through the halls of famous landmarks … right? Right!?!
Well … maybe.
Maybe it’s all just a bit of spooky fun we have once a year.
But on the other hand, there are … the stories.
Renwick Smallpox Hospital
Take the Roosevelt Island tram and explore the perimeter of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital … if you dare. The island made for an ideal quarantine location in the 1800s when the hospital was built, but it was abandoned a century later when the hospital moved to Queens, leaving behind spooky ruins. But why did they leave? Some would have you believe it was a simple logistical decision. But there may be more to that story …
The House of Death
Speaking of the 1800s, say hello to the oh-so-subtly-named House of Death. Constructed in the 1850s, this Greek Revival home is located in a very pretty neighborhood. Mark Twain lived (or, ahem, still lives) here. It’s said to be haunted by no less than 22 ghosts, including Twain himself. The home was converted into 10 apartments in the mid-1900s, and actress Jan Bryant Bartell, who lived on the top floor, wrote a book about the horrors she experienced there. And, well, she died under mysterious circumstances in the 1970s.
The house is next to Washington Square Park, which is really probably totally fine and not haunted at all.
Washington Square Park
Just kidding. It’s totally haunted. The park was built on a Native American burial ground, and during outbreaks of yellow fever from 1791 to 1821, the area became a burial ground for more than 20,000 bodies. If that’s not enough to make your skin crawl — rumor has it that gallows were once a centerpiece of the park as well, making it a hub of criminal executions. Not surprisingly, Washington Square Park still features a formal cemetery … but in actuality, the entire park is a cemetery.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion
It’s the oldest house in New York City, so really, how could it not be haunted? You can even go ghost hunting there yourself. All fun and games, right? Well, be careful … that’s how all the good horror movies start. This house has an unsettled history — it was built in 1765 before the United States existed by a colonel in the British Army, and it once belonged to Aaron Burr, killer of Alexander Hamilton.
New Amsterdam Theatre
Olive Thomas is a nice name. And by all accounts, she seems to have been a nice lady, if a bit troubled; she committed suicide in 1920. Let’s hope she behaves in death as she did in life — because her ghost is believed to haunt the theatre to this day. And very actively at that. Olive’s ghost is such a staple of the theatre that a picture of her has been placed at every entrance so visitors will recognize her when they see her. Be sure to say hello; we hear it keeps her happy.
St. Paul's Chapel
The Morris-Jumel Mansion may be the oldest house in the city, but St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest public building still in use. So, yeah, definitely haunted. The chapel, like many of that era, even has its own cemetery. British actor George Frederick Cooke was buried here. Well, most of him was. You see — he donated his head to science but apparently his body, separated from his brain, now wanders the chapel grounds looking for his head. We hear the least haunted, least creepy time one ought to visit George’s gravestone is exactly midnight on Halloween.
Staying in NYC for Halloween? Don’t miss Harvest Week at Hotel Belleclaire!