The 10 most haunted buildings in New York City

More than 8 million people call New York City home and a further 60 million tourists visit the island every year – and apparently ghostly spirits can’t get enough of the place either!

While we don’t have official numbers on how many ghosts populate NYC, we wouldn’t be surprised it goes into the thousands. Anyone looking for a spook certainly won’t be disappointed. There are numerous places you can look for paranormal activity, but today we’ve rounded up the most popular. If you’re looking for a ghost these are the best places to look.

1. Dakota Apartments

While this apartment block is already infamous as the murder site of John Lennon, it’s disturbing past starts way before that. Over the years, there has been sightings of a 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. In 1968, the exterior of the building was also used in the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby.

2. The House of Death

At 14 West 10th Street you’ll find a beautiful townhouse that has been called the most haunted building in New York City. Throughout the 20th Century the building has been the site of many gruesome crimes – and experts claim there are 22 ghosts that call the building home. Mark Twain lived here from 1900 to 1901 and his ghost has even been spotted wandering the stairway.

3. 12 Gay Street

Located along one of Manhattan’s most picturesque streets lies this former speakeasy. It operated during the Prohibition era and was called the Pirate’s Den – before being bought by former NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker. Residents and neighbours have insisted that flapper girl ghosts have been seen on the property. If that wasn’t creepy enough, at one point the building was owned by Frank Paris, the creator of notorious hell-puppet Howdy Doody.

4. The Manhattan Well

You’ll miss this one if you aren’t looking for it. First brought to public attention as the murder site in the Manhattan Well Murder trial of 1800 (the first American murder trial to have a recorded transcript), it’s now a site of spooky goings on.

A young woman named Gulielma “Elma” Sands was found here, and a man named Levi Weeks (who had been courting her) was accused of her murder. The trial went on for weeks but – to much public outrage – Levi was acquitted. The well was filled in and built over in 1817, but was rediscovered in 1980 – and paranormal investigators claim that Gulielma Sands still haunts the area.

5. The Conference House

Over on Staten Island you’ll find the only surviving pre-Revolutionary manor house in New York. It was at one point used by loyalist Colonel Christopher Billop as a station for British forces during the Revolutionary War. Plus, it was the location of the unsuccessful Staten Island Peace Conference on September 11, 1776.

However, ghost hunters visit for a different reason. In 1779, Billop suspected a fifteen-year-old serving girl of spying for the rebels and threw her down a flight of stairs, killing her. Apparently her screams can still be heard today. To top it off, the house was built on a Lenape Indian burial ground.

6. Merchant’s House Museum

This is one of New York City’s more under-the-nose museums. Once owned by the Tredwell family, it’s rumoured that the youngest member still lives there in spiritual form. Gertrude Tredwell lived there until her death in 1933 – and weird sights, sounds and smells have been reported. You can book yourself a ghost tour of the house.

7. Morris-Jumel Mansion

Manhattan’s oldest remaining house has certainly seen its fair share of ghostly spirits. The previous owner Eliza Bowen Jumel is a common sight, but the ghosts of a soldier and a young girl aren’t unheard of.

8. White Horse Tavern

This sophisticated pub was quite the hangout for tortured writers back in the early 1950s.  One of them, a poet named Dylan Thomas, drank too much whiskey and collapsed on the pavement outside. He later died in hospital but it’s rumoured that his ghost returned to the pub.

9. New Amsterdam Theatre

If you’re seeing a show here, keep your eyes peeled for an extra performer. A onetime Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl named Olive Thomas died by suicide here in 1920, and there have been reported sightings since. Her pictures have been hung up at every entrance so that the cast and crew can greet her on their way in and out. Apparently she has remained a friendly ghost and keeps her peace with the living.

10. Hotel Chelsea

If you’re looking for some celebrity ghost sightings, it’s rumoured that the ghost of Charles R. Jackson and Nancy Spungen wander the Hotel Chelsea at 222 West 23rd Street. Currently it is closed for renovations but will reopen in 2018.

There’s plenty more haunted building in NYC aside from these ones. Have we missed any of that you think are especially spooky?                      

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Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.