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Green-Wood Cemetery
Photograph: Courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery

Get the chills at the spookiest places in NYC

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

Written by
Jillian Anthony
,
Tolly Wright
&
Shaye Weaver
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There are plenty of places in NYC that give us the willies any time of year, but we think Halloween is the best time of year to visit the spookiest places in NYC. From a historic cemetery to haunted mansions to a crumbling hospital that housed smallpox victims, these places are sure to chill you to the bone.

When Halloween rolls around and our attention turns to the ghosts and goblins, it’s time to start thinking about costumes and decorations and where to go for some screams or a good old fashioned haunting. Some might go for NYC’s best haunted houses, designed to induce high levels of terror, while others seek out the real-life haunted places right in our own backyard. NYC’s best ghost tours will give you a first-hand look at scary spots around the city, complete with terrifying tales of true crimes, dastardly deaths and ghostly hauntings.

If you’re brave, you can visit these spooky NYC places on your own. But once you learn where to find all these sites of horrors and paranormal activity, you may want to reconsider where you go after-hours in the future. Not into up-close-and-personal scares? Keep your screams at home with the best scary movies of all time.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

Spookiest places in NYC

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Washington Heights

History buffs with a love for the founding fathers 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 Heights mansion, which happens to be Manhattan’s oldest house, should beware: Ghosts have been spotted among those old halls.

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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  • 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 special events, like a string quartet performance in the catacombs or frequent site-specific installations and performances.

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, has a history as a defensive system, a Union Army prison, and a full-time prison. 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. 

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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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The Tugboat 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. 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. Curious (and brave?) people now tour it via boats and kayaks because of its eerie atmosphere.

  • 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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  • 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.

City Hall 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.

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