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Jefferson Market Library
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons, Polka0505 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Seven haunted spots in the Village that’ll give you chills

Greenwich Village may be the most haunted neighborhood in NYC.

Written by
Walker Schulte Schneider

Greenwich Village is the crown jewel of New York City—an exciting and eccentric neighborhood covered in leafy trees and beautiful old buildings. Although it lies at the halfway point between the bustling density of the Financial District and the glass-covered skyscrapers of midtown, the Village has tenaciously maintained its independent spirit over the centuries—perhaps a bit too tenaciously...

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Greenwich Village is one of New York City’s most haunted neighborhoods. Tales of murder, witchcraft and grave robbing are etched into its streets. The prosperous, the impoverished, and the free-spirited have all called it home… and many have decided to stick around long after their deaths.

These are the seven spookiest spots to visit in Greenwich Village this fall.

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Chilling Greenwich Village Haunts

  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • East Village

The famously peg-legged Director General of New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant, built a small chapel on this spot in 1660. When he died, he was buried beneath it. 

In the late 1700s, the Episcopal Church purchased the land and built the current church on this site. Evidently, Stuyvesant—a devout Calvinist—was not happy about this transition. Throughout the years, churchgoers have had their services interrupted by a voice loudly singing Dutch hymns. Many have also heard the scraping sounds of a peg leg dragging across the floor. 

One night in 1865, the church’s bell began to ring furiously. Somehow, the bell’s rope had been cut, preventing anyone from stopping its pealing. After several hours, it finally fell silent. Only then did the church’s sleep-deprived staff find the missing section of rope—laying peacefully on the Stuyvesant family crypt. 

Stuyvesant isn’t the only notable New Yorker who haunts the church. He is joined by Alexander T. Stewart, a retail magnate and one of the wealthiest Americans ever, whose corpse was stolen from the church’s burial ground in 1878. It is unknown if the body was ever recovered. Rumors circled that Mrs. Stewart privately negotiated for the return of her late husband’s bones and then had them reinterred elsewhere. However, if that is so, Mrs. Stewart forgot to tell her late husband where she reburied him. His ghost has been seen pacing the St. Mark’s cemetery, apparently trying to figure out where his body has gone. 

The “House of Death”
Photographs: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/@Epicsunwarrior and the Library of Congress

2. The “House of Death”

Twenty-two ghosts walk the halls of this unassuming brownstone. The most famous spirit is Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

One night, Twain noticed a piece of wood hovering above the fireplace. Without hesitation, the author reached for his pistol and shot the piece of wood. It immediately clattered to the ground, inanimate once again, but newly covered in a few drops of fresh blood. Twain—a noted ghost skeptic—maintained that a rat was responsible. But no wounded rodent was ever found.

This inconsistency must have bothered Twain to his dying day—and beyond. Decades after his death, one resident of the building encountered Twain, dressed in his classic white suit, on the ground floor. Twain reportedly looked at the tenant and said: “My name is Clemens, and I got problems here I gotta settle.”

More grimly, in 1987, a prominent Manhattan attorney named Joel Steinberg beat his 6-year-old adopted daughter, Lisa, to death in the building on a drug-fueled rampage. Although Lisa doesn’t haunt the building, it was her murder that earned the house its moniker: “The House of Death.”

  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • Greenwich Village

Arguably the most unique-looking building in the Village, the Jefferson Market Library was built as a courthouse in 1877. A few years later, it was voted the fifth most beautiful building in the country. 

Despite its beauty, the courthouse hosted one of the uglier events in the city’s history. One evening in 1906, Stanford White, the famous architect of Gilded Age New York City, was shot dead on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden. He was murdered by Harry Thaw, a mentally unstable heir to a Pittsburgh coal fortune. Upon seeing White, Thaw spiraled into a blinding fury because White had sexually assaulted Thaw’s wife—the acclaimed model and chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit—when she was a teenager. 

Thaw was immediately taken to the Jefferson Market courthouse where he was arraigned for the murder of White. However, Thaw was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity. Nesbit, who was present throughout the proceedings, testified powerfully on her husband’s behalf. 

Visitors to the building often report seeing an oddly dressed woman wave at them, smile warmly, and then disappear. Perhaps this is the spirit of Nesbit, still trying to build sympathy for her murderous husband. 

Edgar Allan Poe House
Photographs: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and The Library of Congress

4. Edgar Allan Poe House

The façade of a brownstone etched into the back of NYU’s Furman Hall marks the location of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s Manhattan residences. Although the lower portion of a stairway banister is the only part of the house that remains, Poe’s ghost is not so easily removed. 

In this house, Poe wrote one of his darkest short stories, “The Cask of Amontillado,” and put the final touches on his most famous piece, “The Raven.” The gloominess of both these tales was doubtlessly influenced by Poe’s personal melancholy at the time. The same year that he moved into the house, his wife Virginia began coughing blood. She died shortly thereafter from tuberculosis. 

While living here, Poe reported on the most sensational event of the day: the trial of Polly Bodine, the “Witch of Staten Island.” Bodine was accused of murdering her niece and sister-in-law and then setting their house on fire to destroy any evidence of the crime. Although Bodine was eventually acquitted, another perpetrator was never identified. 

Perhaps the unresolved nature of this gruesome double murder, or the tragic diagnosis of his poor Virginia, keeps Poe tied to this spot. Several students have reportedly seen his ghost glumly shuffling up and down the lower portion of the remaining banister, and the lightbulbs above it frequently flicker.  

It must be acknowledged that the author, who is a law student at NYU, has yet to have the pleasure.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Greenwich Village

Before Washington Square Park became a park, it was a “Potter’s Field,” a public cemetery for the city’s impoverished or unidentifiable residents. As many as 125,000 individuals might have been buried beneath the park—and 20,000 probably still are. As recently as 2017, construction workers discovered skeletal remains while working on the park. 

In the early 1800s, when a series of Yellow Fever epidemics devastated New York City, gravediggers were forced to dig shallower and shallower graves. Often, in the process, they would inadvertently smash a slightly deeper grave and accidentally scatter the body parts it contained. As a result, people have seen ghostly individuals walking throughout the park who look closely at the ground, perhaps hoping to rediscover one of their missing limbs. 

Although the ominously named Hangman’s Elm, one of the oldest trees in Manhattan, stands in the park’s northwest corner, executions rarely occurred in the park. The only confirmed exception is Rose Butler, a nineteen-year-old enslaved women, who, in 1818, was convicted of arson after she confessed—although her confession was likely coerced. Butler was hanged in the middle of the park, roughly where the fountain now innocently sits. 

  • Museums
  • Special interest
  • Greenwich Village

In the late afternoon of March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building, the first level of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. As the blaze quickly spread throughout the rest of the building, the doors to the factory—which were locked from the outside—trapped hundreds of workers in the burning building. The laborers, nearly all of whom were young immigrant women, were left with no escape other than to desperately jump from the building’s windows—and to their deaths. When the smoke finally cleared, 146 people were dead. 

In 1929, a wealthy New Yorker donated the building to NYU. While the building is now mostly classrooms—the eighth floor is currently a chemistry lab—it still bears the ghostly scars of that terrible day. The unmistakable smells of smoke and burnt flesh reportedly waft through the building. Doors mysteriously unlock themselves and their handles jiggle without any aid. Footsteps pound the stairs when the building is empty. Those who sit by the windows on the lower floors have noted seeing, out of the corner of their eyes, large objects hurtling toward the ground. It’s as if something—or someone—was falling from an upper floor. 

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  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Noho
  • price 1 of 4

Seabury Tredwell moved into this beautiful brick and marble rowhouse in 1835 with his wife and eight children. The last Tredwell, his youngest daughter Gertrude, wouldn’t leave the house for another 98 years. 

Gertrude was born in one of the house’s upstairs bedrooms in 1840. As a young woman, she fell in love with a handsome young doctor. However, for some reason, her father Seabury refused to let the two marry. Gertrude never forgave him. Estranged from her father, she became a spinster and seldom left the house. In 1933, at the age of 93, she died in the very same room in which she was born. 

But the Tredwell family hasn’t truly ever left. Known as “Manhattan’s most haunted house,” staff members and visitors repeatedly interact with several Tredwell family members (identified by consulting 19th-century photographs). One of the museum’s board members estimates the house averages half a dozen documented “occurrences” every year. 

During a paranormal investigation into one of the upstairs rooms, an investigator looked at herself in the room’s mirror and asked whether Eliza, the Tredwell sister who lived in that room, thought she was pretty. When the recording was played back, a voice could be faintly heard replying, “Pleasant enough.”  

8. Take your own walking tour of these sites

We created a map so you can follow along on your own!

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