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Green-Wood Cemetery
Photograph: Courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery

The spookiest places in NYC that give us the chills

From haunted houses to creepy cemeteries, we found the spookiest places in NYC for you to visit...if you dare

By Jillian Anthony, Tolly Wright and Shaye Weaver
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No matter what time of year, the spookiest places in NYC always give us the willies. However, we feel most inclined to visit these creepy and potentially haunted places during Halloween time. NYC’s cemeteries, historic houses and oldest museums can seriously rattle you. Read on, if you dare, for our list of the kookiest contenders. If you want to explore more haunted places in New York state, we can recommend a few that make excellent fall day trips.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

Spookiest places in NYC

1. Morris-Jumel Mansion

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Washington Heights

History buffs with a love for the founding fathers (or Hamilton) should visit this historic mansion to see the residence where George Washington temporarily held his headquarters during the Revolutionary War and where Aaron Burr later lived with his wife and the owner of the mansion, Eliza Bowen Jumel. However, visitors to the Washington Height mansion, which happens to be Manhattan’s oldest house, should beware: Ghosts have been spotted among those old halls.

North Brother Island Ruins
North Brother Island Ruins
Photograph: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/reivax

2. North Brother Island

While this island just east of the Bronx and north of Astoria is very small, it packs a huge, tragic history. In 1904, it was the site of a steamboat crash that killed over 1,000 people, which was the most deadly disaster in New York’s history until September 11. It was also the home to the Riverside Hospital from 1885 through the mid 20th century, where it treated and quarantined patients with deadly infectious diseases including smallpox, tuberculosis, measles, scarlet fever and polio. Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary) lived there for two decades before dying in 1938.  

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery
Photograph: Courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery

3. Green-Wood Cemetery

Things to do Walks and tours Greenwood

Take a chilling, moonlit tour of this 478-acre final resting place, the home of New Yorkers such as artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, composer Leonard Bernstein and casualties of the Civil War and World War I. In our opinion, the best time to visit is during one of Green-Wood's seasonal events like Into The Veil, and after-dark exploration that includes performances inside crypts. 

Nolan Park Governors Island
Nolan Park Governors Island
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

4. The homes on Governors Island

Governors Island is a lush getaway within the city, but its military history and empty homes help to give it a spooky feel.

Castle Williams, a circular fortification built between 1796 and 1811, was first used as a defensive system for the inner harbor with gun emplacements across three floors, with one tier used as a barracks. Later during the Civil War, it was used to house new Union recruits and to imprison Confederate men and deserters. It became a full-time prison in the early 20th century, until 1965 when the U.S. Army closed its post there. The U.S. Coast Guard took it over and used it as a community center for island residents, but that all ended in 1997 when it closed its base. 

Colonels Row and Nolan Park once housed 3,500 residents before they were relocated in 1966. Even though the homes’ paint is peeling and it’s eerily quiet, it almost feels like the residents just left. It is strange to see such a suburban setting just a few hundred yards off the southern tip of Manhattan. It’s reminiscent of the movie “Pleasantville.” 

There are not only homes, but just about everything a town would need to thrive — a YMCA, a couple of churches, a fort and even a theater — all of which you can find on Owasco Road.

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Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park
Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

5. Quaker cemetery in Prospect Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

Imagine this: You’re out for a lovely picnic in Prospect Park’s Long Meadow when your friend channels her inner Tom Brady, and suddenly the football you’re playing catch with is in the woods. You go to retrieve it, and suddenly you’re looking through a tall wire fence at some really old gravestones. Freaky! Luckily, you can rest assured that this cemetery is well taken care of—2,000 Quakers are buried at this site that date back more than 150 years.

Photograph: Timothy Vogel

6. Renwick Smallpox Hospital

In the 19th century, when smallpox was still killing thousands every year, this dreary stone Gothic Revival building quarantined and treated the sick on Blackwell (now Roosevelt) Island. Though the hospital has not been used in decades and is but a shell of its former self, the ruins remain as a city landmark and can be seen near the island’s popular Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. 

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Arthur Kill boat graveyard
Arthur Kill boat graveyard
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. The Tugboat Graveyard

There's a place where boats go to die, or at least, there used to be. It's called the Arthur Kill boat graveyard and it's located in between Staten Island and New Jersey.

When you see it from the shore, you'll see rusted metal parts and actual tug boats sticking out of the water like stuck in mid-sink.

The graveyard is a ghostly reminder of New York's shipping industry history. The Witte Marine Equipment Company used to scrap and deconstructed old tugboats, barges and ferries and over the last century, they just accumulated on the shore.

It's not technically abandoned, however, it's not used as a scrapyard for ships anymore. Curious (and brave?) people now tour it via boats and kayaks because of its eerie atmosphere.

Merchant House Museum
Merchant House Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Merchant's House Museum

8. Merchant's House Museum

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Noho

Once owned by the Tredwell family, this historic Noho townhouse apparently seems to have one member still living here. It’s suspected that Gertrude Tredwell, the last Tredwell to occupy the house until her death in 1933, is keeping an eye on the home she grew up in. Since becoming one of the more under-the-radar museums three years later, strange sights, sounds and smells have been reported. Yet the staff doesn’t seem fazed, as ghost tours are offered here frequently.

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Astoria Park Hell Gate Bridge
Astoria Park Hell Gate Bridge
Photograph: Archer Lewis

9. Hell Gate Bridge

Attractions Bridges Queens

Is it safe to assume that any landmark dubbed “Hell Gate” is haunted? Not necessarily, but many urban legends and countless ghost stories about the bridge spanning the East River between Queens and Ward’s Island have certainly scared the bejesus out of New Yorkers for many years. According to Urban Ghosts, a grotesque ghost train allegedly crosses the bridge at night. And some have spotted a demonic train holding the souls of folks who lost their lives in the water below. Too spooky for us!

City Hall abandoned subway station
City Hall abandoned subway station
Photograph: Shutterstock/Felix L

10. City Hall station

While most NYC subway stations are functional at best, this station, with its gorgeous tiles, skylights, arches and chandeliers, has remained mostly untouched by the normal wear and tear of human use and transportation since the station halted service in 1945. The occasional tours of this once-great hub often sell out fast, but if you stay on the 6 train to the end of the line at Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall as it switches to the uptown track, you can catch a glimpse of the abandoned station where (we presume) ghost of commuters past are still waiting for their train. Center St at Chambers St.

 

Looking for more scares?

White Horse Tavern
Photograph: Shutterstock/Brian L

The most haunted places in NYC

Things to do

In the city that never sleeps, there are haunted places in NYC whose inhabitants might keep you up at night or heading home early. From historic haunted houses to long-time taverns, the tenants at these venues might give off an eerie feeling or prompt a sudden urge to change your plans. Fact or fiction, these personas of paranormal activity will put you on high alert if you’re brave enough to pay a visit or take ghost tours. So keep your eyes wide open while reading about some of the spookiest places in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

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