As one of the oldest cities in the United States, there are creepy and spooky places all over New York City! From murders and suicides to overdoses and kidnappings – this city has seen it all. If only the walls could talk…or do they? From Washington Heights to the Lower East Side, we decided to spend this Halloween examining some of the top haunts the city has to offer – not the man-made haunted houses, but the REAL ghosts of New York.
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The Dakota is an ultra-luxury apartment complex on the Upper West Side – facing Central Park. It is still a functioning community, even though some very creepy, scary, and sad things have happened here. Not only is this the filming location for Rosemary’s Baby and Time and Again, it is also where John Lennon was living when he was murdered – and he was murdered actually right here – on the South side of the building. What do you think? Is John Lennon still wandering the hallways penning new verses for “Imagine”?
The Morris-Jumel Mansion
All the way up in Washington Heights, the Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest standing home in Manhattan. Built in 1765, it has functioned as George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War, Aaron Burr’s home during his second marriage, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s writing space when he busted out the Hamilton song, “The Room Where It Happened” (in Aaron Burr’s bedroom, of course!).
There is certainly an eerie feeling in the home that has been used both as a war room and a place of seduction and adultery. It has a perfect view of the Hudson, several hidden rooms, and an attic that visitors aren’t allowed to explore. Although I don’t know of any ghosts haunting the home…the walls are holding many stories of our founders and their secret lives.
The Landmark Tavern
Sailors and thieves and drinkers – oh my! The Landmark Tavern is a popular stop near the Intrepid Museum and Circle Line Cruises. Many will venture here as it is one of the few dining establishments near the waterfront. But, they may not know of its sordid history. The tavern opened in 1868 and was a popular destination for dockworkers and merchant seamen. In the 1980s it became the home of the “Westies” a violent and murderous Irish gang. Rumor has it that three ghosts never escaped the watering hole. Two ghosts of the gang’s victims and another confederate soldier… who was stabbed near the bar and fled upstairs to the bathtub where he died and supposedly remains to this day….
Any twisted romance lovers or Sex Pistols fans reading this? You don’t get much darker romance than Sid and Nancy. Built between 1883 and 1885, Hotel Chelsea housed literary greats such as Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, and Gregory Corso, prohibition rebels, and musical madmen – most notably Sid Vicious.
The most notable ghost is, of course, Nancy Spungen who was stabbed by her boyfriend (Sid Vicious) in room #100.
The hotel is currently under renovations and is vacant. When looking closely, we saw a busted stained-glass window on the east side of the building (see photo above). Since the party has finally stopped at the Hotel Chelsea, we’re thinking Nancy may have busted out to find another wild party to attend….
White Horse Tavern
Remember the writer Dylan Thomas from the Hotel Chelsea? Like many other Greenwich Village artists from the 1950s and 1960s…he enjoyed the wild side of life. He’s the primary haunt here at the White Horse Tavern. One evening in 1953, after probably enjoying a few too many at the Hotel Chelsea bar, he found his way to his favorite watering hole – The White Horse Tavern.
Being an old dive bar, Thomas felt at home with the staff and often wrote comfortably while seated at the end of the bar. He engaged in his ritual of “out-drinking” himself and ordered (and drank) 18 shots of whiskey. He was taken back to his hotel room by some of the staff, where he was later discovered as being unconscious and rushed to the hospital, where he died.
After his death, he supposedly found his way back to the White Horse Tavern where he stays…presumably continuing to look for his one last drink. When the bartender is alone, he always pours a shot for the last seat at the bar…and somehow…it usually disappears…
House of Death
This Greenwich Village townhome has a cute exterior with a ratched history. It holds the most death of any home in all of New York City. Since it was built in the 1850s, is has housed the deaths of 22 people… And, it still houses the ghost of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain as well as supposedly at least 15 others. Spooky!!! One of the apartments in the building went up for sale last year – AND SOLD! Are you in?
Washington Square Park
One of the most iconic places in New York holds a secret past! We may think of this as NYU’s playground or a common downtown meeting spot, but did you know it was also the location of New York’s public executions? (The fountain covers the old execution spot!) We don’t put that in the guidebooks.
Not only was it the place where we killed criminals and misfits, but it was ALSO the burial ground for those who couldn’t afford a proper burial. There are more than 20,000 dead bodies under the famous park. Be careful where you step!
One If By Land, Two If By Sea
One If By Land, Two If By Sea is one of the oldest and finest of New York restaurants. This is a place where hundreds of couples get engaged annually, families host exquisite parties, and the elite enjoy special occasions. But, if you think of it as Aaron Burr’s old carriage house – and all the history that entails – things get a little creepy.
Where my Hamilton fans at? Here we go…Theodosia was on her way to visit her father from South Carolina. She was kidnapped at sea by pirates, who forced her to walk the plank. However, legend has it that her ghost made it to their meeting spot here at Aaron Burr’s Carriage House. As the greatest love of his life – his daughter, legend also says that after his death, his spirit came here to be with her.
Now, a couple of hundred years later, women who dine at the restaurant have complained about their earrings being pulled off and jewelry going missing. Theodosia always loved her jewels. When dining here, prepare for a shocking check and maybe leave your jewelry at home.
McSorley’s is the oldest bar on the Lower East Side. Women weren’t allowed inside until 1970, sawdust still covers the floors, and it’s cash only. To say it’s old-school is a massive understatement. Along with old traditions, McSorley’s houses some old souls as well. Most notably – Harry Houdini. When one of the “cats on staff” is seen sleeping in the window, Houdini is present. The bar has some of his handcuffs on display, and he is said to move tables around, make odd noises, and pet the cats at the bar.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal houses a mysterious platform – #61. Although it is hidden in the depths, it was often used by FDR to get to his hotel – The Waldorf Astoria. Whenever he was being followed by paparazzi, Roosevelt would steal away into the depths to avoid anyone seeing his paralysis.
He was often spotted with his companion – Fala – a Scottish Terrier. Legend has it that Fala loved these train trips so much, that she is still seen running around the station. You might still hear her barking around tracks 112/113. If you try to follow the pup, you’ll find yourself running into a solid wall. When the dog is around, you know FDR is also nearby.
The Stoops of New York
In 2020, is there anything spookier than our shared reality? Some of the spookiest things we experienced all day were in the life and times of New Yorkers via their stoops. This year politics and current events blended with the ghouls for a full day of scares…Take a look!
Other NYC Ideas…
Check out our previous posts for other NYC neighborhoods to check-out!
- North Fork, Long Island
- Red Hook
- Rockaway Beach
- Murray Hill and Midtown East
- Central Park
- Discover the Best NYC Landmark and Lookout – Just For You!
More coming each week!
And…it’s 2020…So, here’s my weekly reminder.
Should I Come to New York in 2020?
If you are living outside the Northeast, the answer is still, sadly, no. For more on this, check out our other posts on “3 Months of New York City,” “Riding the Second Wave,” “Wandering and Wondering in NYC,” and “New York: Awakening from COVID-19 Slumber.” Although the numbers are starting to climb again, New York still seems to be under control (at this point). The government is doing its best to make sure it stays below a certain percentage. With so many people living in such a close proximity, pandemics are especially lethal here.
***UPDATE*** Starting on November 4th, the mandatory 14-day quarantine is ending! New York is moving to a test-based travel restriction. You have to show a negative COVID-19 test result from the past 72 hours upon arrival, then, three days after arrival (and quarantine), you have to receive another test here. If it’s negative, you’re good to go. If it’s positive, you must continue to quarantine. So, this means shorter quarantines (yay!), but two tests… Stay home if you can…If you can’t, you’ve been warned!
Wait this one out…New York will still be here when the dust settles.
As always, don’t forget to Toast The Moon to all of your international travels by visiting our store, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and the ‘gram to catch all of our latest posts and adventures!
Stay in your region this year, stay safe, stay distant, and be like the NYC statues – wear your masks! We’ll see you on the other side.
Noah and Majhon