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Chelsea Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bobbi Bowers Chelsea Hotel

The most haunted places in NYC

Learn what's lurking around town at the most haunted places in NYC—and then decide whether or not you want to go out

By Will Sabel Courtney, Jeremy Winograd, Peter Kirby and Michele Herrmann

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.

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Haunted places in NYC

The Dakota
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/SouthernWI

The Dakota

It's one of the most famous apartment buildings in New York City—and possibly one of the most haunted. Residents have reported seeing the ghost of a young girl gallivanting around the hallways, while John Lennon claimed to have seen a figure he called the “Crying Lady Ghost” wandering through the building. And Lennon himself may still be floating around; Yoko Ono says she saw his spirit sitting at his piano, saying, “Don't be afraid. I am still with you.”

New York attractions
Wendy Connett

Washington Square Park

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Greenwich Village

This famed cultural hot spot was built over a mass burial ground, where as many as 20,000 bodies, including victims of the 19th-century yellow-fever epidemic, resided. And if Poltergeist taught us anything, it’s that you do not develop on top of the dead.

St. Marks Church
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/PROHerman Beun

St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery

Attractions Religious buildings and sites East Village

Locals claim this place of worship is a hotbed for ghosts, including that of Peter Stuyvesant, whose remains are buried in the churchyard. (He probably wants to make sure you haven’t forgotten about him since your second-grade unit on New Amsterdam ended.)

Chelsea Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Bobbi Bowers

Hotel Chelsea

Hotels Chelsea

This artists’ hangout is well-known for providing lodging to rock stars and cultural celebrities over the years. And according to believers, a few residents (like Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, who was found stabbed in the couple’s bathroom, and Dylan Thomas, who died at nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital) may have never checked out.

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/remster_9

Manhattan Murder Well

In 1799, the slain body of Gulielma Elmore Sands was discovered in a well just north of Spring Street. (Her suitor, Levi Weeks, was suspected of the crime but acquitted.) Rumor has it that the well remains intact in the basement of this downtown building, the only remnant of the grisly act—other than, perhaps, Sands’s ghost.

Amityville Horror House
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/john

Amityville Horror House

When the Lutz family moved into their new Long Island home after the previous occupants were murdered, they had no idea what they were getting into. The children began acting erratically, flies filled the house in droves and demonic beings appeared and disappeared. The Lutz’s lasted only 28 days before fleeing in terror, but their story inspired a series of books and movies—which in turn have inspired legions to visit the purportedly possessed property.

Hell Gate Bridge
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Rich Mitchell

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!

Belasco 2

Belasco Theatre

Theater Broadway Midtown West

This midtown landmark is not only notable for the talent it draws, but for the ghosts that never leave (gulp). Allegedly, owner David Belasco once lived in an apartment above the theatre with his right-hand lady (a.k.a. the Blue Lady). Belasco passed away in 1931, but his spirit (including the Blue Lady’s) still remains. Both can be seen onstage during performances, sitting in the audience and traveling in the elevator.

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