The 12 Most Haunted Places in NYC
Who needs scary movies when you can hang out with actual ghosts in New York City? OK, we’re not becoming professional ghost hunters anytime soon, but there are lots of eerie locations in our own backyard, including abandoned buildings, burial grounds and that ice-skating rink you love so much. Here, 12 haunted places in NYC to get you in a spooky mood.
1. Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
Yep, it’s a fun place to people-watch, but it’s also a great place to mayyybe spot the undead. The Greenwich Village landmark was originally a potter’s field (a public burial ground for paupers, criminals and victims of epidemics) until 1825. The remains of an estimated 20,000 bodies are currently resting under the concrete. Gulp.
2. COS Boutique, Soho
Soho wasn’t always a shopping hot spot. In 1799, it was Lispenard’s Meadow—home to the infamous Manhattan Well Murder. Gulielma Elmore Sands left her boarding house to meet her lover, Levi Weeks, for a secret midnight rendezvous and was found dead 11 days later at the bottom of a well. It was suspected that Weeks had killed her, but his legal team (including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr) got him acquitted. The case was never solved, but a portion of the creepy well still exists in the lower level of the COS retail location at 129 Spring Street.
3. Wollman Rink, Central Park
Go ice-skating in the park this winter and you might see the spirits of Janet and Rosetta Van Der Voort, two reclusive sisters who played there together as children. Their parents were so overprotective that the sisters barely left their Upper West Side apartment (except to do triple axels, apparently), and they both died there as spinsters. For years, New Yorkers have reportedly spotted two women skating in Victorian clothing in the middle of the night.
4. The Dakota, Upper West Side
After John Lennon was shot in front of the building on Central Park West, Yoko Ono said she frequently saw his ghost sitting at his white piano. Also, have you seen Rosemary’s Baby, one of the creepiest horror movies in history? It was obviously filmed there for a reason.
5. Hotel Chelsea, Chelsea
More celebrity ghosts! Everyone who’s anyone has stayed at the Chelsea Hotel, including Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Tennessee Williams, Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Guests have reported ghost sightings throughout the iconic hotel, especially in room 205, where writer Dylan Thomas became ill before he died. Today, the site is stuck in construction purgatory (for a supposed reopening) as well as a legal battle with its longtime tenants.
6. The Campbell, Midtown
Originally the luxurious digs of millionaire financier and Credit Clearing House manager John Campbell, the space in Grand Central Terminal became a jail before being renovated into a cushy lounge ideal for sipping cocktails. The staff has reported a lot of freaky happenings but call the ghosts “fashionable and friendly.” Phew. (Note: The Campbell is currently closed due to Covid-19.)
7. Merchant’s House Museum, East Village
The Tredwell family lived in this house on East Fourth Street for 100 years before it became a national landmark. According to legend, Gertrude Tredwell, who was born in the house and lived there until her death at age 93, became obsessed with keeping the home in its original condition, even when the neighborhood began to decline. Since her death, doors in the home open and close inexplicably, and visitors have reported the smell of gas lamps.
8. Renwick Smallpox Hospital, Roosevelt Island
The abandoned hospital is one of the most haunted (and, um, terrifying) sites in all of NYC. Originally built in 1854, it housed smallpox patients for a century before falling into disrepair. The creepy ruins (you know, the ones you can see from the FDR) are currently under renovation and it’s totally cool with us if they don’t finish anytime soon.
9. Hart Island, Long Island Sound
The only thing spookier than an abandoned smallpox hospital? An abandoned psychiatric hospital on a remote island with more than a million dead bodies buried on it. Located east of the Bronx, this spine-chilling NYC spot was accessible to the public pre-Covid by appointment only but has now stopped all visits.
10. The House of Death, Greenwich Village
Looks pretty cute from the outside, doesn’t it? This unassuming apartment building at 14 West Tenth Street in the Village was once the home of Mark Twain, and several residents have reported sightings of the famous writer. Although he didn’t die there, 22 others have (and yikes, some were really gruesome).
11. Seaview Children’s Hospital, Staten Island
Oh, come on! This place has to be haunted. The crumbling remnants of this children’s tuberculosis hospital were abandoned for decades, but the campus is slowly being redeveloped into a working wellness center, which means the eerie rundown vibes won’t be around forever. (We can’t say the same for the ghosts, though.)
12. One if by Land, Two if by Sea
If you missed out on a chance to see Hamilton live then here’s the next best spookiest thing: This romantic restaurant in the West Village was once Aaron Burr’s carriage house and he supposedly makes regular appearances there, along with his daughter, Theodosia. The restaurant is currently open for outdoor seating only but staff and diners have seen Champagne glasses broken, paintings fall off walls, and spirits coming down the stairs. Honestly, we’d be happy to not be in the room where that happens...