Manhattan's most haunted places
Tour guide Dr. Philip Schoenberg takes us around some of the city's spookiest spots.
Fri Oct 21 2011
Photograph: David Rosenzweig
Washington Square Park
Today the Greenwich Village hangout might be best known for its throngs of NYU students, but before being turned into a military parade ground and park in 1825, the space was a public burial site. During the early 19th century, thousands of victims of the yellow-fever epidemic were buried at the location; as a result, according to Schoenberg, "Washington Square Park is ghost central." W 4th St to Waverly Pl between MacDougal St and University Pl (212-639-9675, nycgovparks.org). Daily dawn–midnight; free.
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85 West 3rd Street
Horror-story maven Edgar Allan Poe spent eight months between 1845 and 1846 at this Greenwich Village address, churning out "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" as well as a bit of "The Raven." The house has since been demolished to make way for NYU dormitories, but the writer's presence seems to linger. "A few people claim to have seen Poe's ghost climbing the banister, the only original part of the building that remains," Schoenberg says. 85 W 3rd St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts
One if by Land, Two if by Sea
Former Vice President Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia reportedly hang posthumously at this West Village restaurant, which is located in Burr's old carriage house. Schoenberg thinks he might have come into contact with the Burr ghosts, who also haunt Battery Park, during one of his walking tours. "As we approached Battery Park, a woman lost her earring," he says. "We didn't think it was a coincidence." (The spirit of Theodosia, who died at sea under mysterious circumstances, reportedly has a fondness for jewelry). 17 Barrow St between Seventh Ave South and W 4th St (212-255-8649, oneifbyland.com). Mon–Thu, Sun 5:30–9:30pm; Fri, Sat 5:15–11:15pm.
Mark Twain House
Twain briefly set up shop at this private Greenwich Village residence between 1900 and 1901. "In life, he was skeptical about ghosts," Schoenberg says of the quintessential satirist. "In the afterlife, he became one." 14 W 10th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
This East Village Episcopal Church, the second-oldest church in Manhattan, is home to the ghosts of several important players in New York City history, including that of Peter Stuyvesant. "It's a very good haunted spot," Schoenberg says. "[Stuyvesant] is actually buried inside the church." 131 E 10th St between Second and Third Aves (212-674-6377, stmarksbowery.org). Open by appointment; free.
Astor Library Building
A former public library building and current home to the Public Theater, this space reportedly houses some of the city's most creative spooks. The spot is said to be haunted by the likes of New York literary giant Washington Irving, as well as Joseph Papp, the late founder of the Public, who was responsible for persuading the city to landmark the architectural gem in 1965. Papp is, according to Schoenberg, a protective paranormal presence. "Usually, you have ghosts that are stuck because they have unhappy experiences," he says. "Joe Papp had a happy life, and wanted to give back in the afterlife." 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (212-539-8500, publictheater.org)
Merchant's House Museum
This family mansion housed the Tredwell clan and its servants for more than a century, and is considered one of the ghostliest spots in the city. "There are five sisters who haunt the place," Schoenberg says. "Each one has its own sad story." Sarah and Gertrude, the two youngest Tredwell sisters, have a particularly tragic history: Their father forced both to abandon their true loves. 29 E 4th St between Bowery and Lafayette St (212-777-1089, merchantshouse.org). Mon, Thu–Sun noon–5pm; $10, seniors and students $5, members and children under 12 free.
The trendy inn is known for catering to a swanky celeb clientele, but according to Schoenberg, the spot sometimes attracts an even more elusive crowd. "People seem to have conversations with guests who disappear," he says. 335 Bowery between 2nd and 3rd Sts (212-505-9100, theboweryhotel.com)
Visit ghostsofny.com for haunted tours led by Schoenberg.
You guys left out one of the spookiest things about Washington Sq. Park: During the renovations they're currently doing, the construction crew discovered that only the headstones, not the bodies, had been moved when the park was originally constructed. Apparently NYC contractors have a long tradition of cutting corners.