Skip the simulated scares and strangers groping you in the dark. Conduct a self-guided tour through the city that never sleeps using our list of NYC establishments that offer true terror (and, bonus, no entrance fees!).
Here are 10 Places in NYC That Are Definitely Haunted.
10. New Amsterdam Theatre
Address: 214 West 42nd St.
On September 10, 1920, actress Olive Thomas stumbled out of the bathroom of a Parisian hotel, horrified by what she’d done, having accidentally ingested an entire bottle of mercury bichloride pills. The dose, prescribed to her philandering husband Jack Pickford for his syphilis, was lethal. The couple was vacationing in Paris at the time on a second honeymoon, and their trip was tragically cut short.
Lucky for New York, Thomas’s ghost crossed the Atlantic so that she could haunt the New Amsterdam, where she once acted. Workers and security guards have claimed to see Thomas walking backstage and throughout the halls of the theater, clutching a blue bottle of pills. Thomas often appears to men—is there a more uncomfortable situation than being hit on by a ghost?—though her spirit reacts calmly as long as she’s approached genially.
9. Belasco Theatre
Address: 111 West 44th St.
Owner David Belasco used to live in an apartment above the theatre with his companion, referred to as “the Blue Lady,” until his death in 1931. According to some individuals, however, Belasco’s spirit has never left the confines of the theatre, and he and the Blue Lady have reportedly been seen onstage during performances, in the audience, and in the elevator.
After Oh! Calcutta! came to the Belasco in 1971, however, Belasco’s ghost was never seen again. The play is notable for it’s sexual themes and frontal male and female nudity; obviously, Belasco was just a total prude.
8. Hotel Chelsea
Address: 222 West 23rd St.
The Hotel Chelsea has a storied past, and has been a frequented by the likes of the many celebrities, including Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Andy Warhol. However, its legacy is just as ugly as it is star-studded. The Chelsea has been the site of several infamous celebrity deaths, specifically those of poet/writer Dylan Thomas and Sid Vicious’ girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Spungen was found dead in a hotel room with Sid Vicious, and he was summarily arrested for her murder. He overdosed on heroin before he could stand trial, and it is said that the ghosts of the lovers haunt the floors. Sweet, right?
Thomas, a famous alcoholic, appears near room 206, the very place he died in 1953.
7. Morris-Jumel Mansion
Address: 65 Jumel Terrace
Manhattan’s oldest home is haunted by five separate ghosts, but the most commonly seen ghoul is that of Eliza Jumel. After Jumel’s husband passed in 1832, she found a new suitor in Alexander Hamilton’s assassin, Aaron Burr. After they divorced, Jumel’s appearance became unsightly and frightening, and she died alone. One account claims that a medium contacted the spirit of her first husband, Stephen, who claimed that Jumel murdered him by burying him alive. Because of her guilt, she can find no peace. Her most notable appearance came in 1964, when a group of schoolchildren toured the home, and her ghost appeared in a violet dress, telling them all to “shut up.” When she appears, she is disoriented and delusional, symptomatic of the dementia she suffered from at the end of her life.
6. St. Paul’s Chapel
Address: 1157 Amsterdam Ave.
St. Paul’s chapel, New York’s oldest public building still in use, is the final resting place for famed (and notoriously hard-drinking) British actor George Frederick Cooke. In addition to his alcoholism, Cooke was prone to extravagant spending, which led to a mountain of debt. To settle it, Cooke decided that his head would be donated to science after he died. When he did, in 1812, his corpse was decapitated and his tortured soul has reportedly been seen drifting among the cemetery headstones searching for his missing head. Fun fact: His skull was used as a theater prop in Hamlet productions. Even in death, he stayed ahead in his craft.
5. White Horse Tavern
Address: 567 Hudson St.
Writers like to drink to excess; we know this. But poet Dylan Thomas took it to the extreme at West Village drinking establishment White Horse Tavern. In 1952, just three years after the bar’s opening, Thomas trumped his existing record, taking 18 whiskey shots before making his exit. He collapsed outside, and a patron then escorted the inebriated writer to the Chelsea Hotel, where he fell into a coma. Thomas was pronounced dead the next morning at St. Vincent’s hospital. But that hasn’t stopped him drinking at his usual table at the tavern from time to time, before quickly disappearing.
4. Billop House
Address: 7455 Hylan Blvd.
Sitting on a 226-acre-park, and home to the only peace conference between the Brits and the Americans during the Revolutionary War, the Billop House would draw visitors on account of its rich history alone. Today, it is a more infamous incident that draws people to the house. Original resident, revolutionary strategist Colonel Bishop was known to have a temper. On one occasion, Bishop accused a servant of being a spy because she’d placed a candle in the window, and proceeded to chase her around the house. She fell to her death during the chase, and to this day, it’s unknown if Bishop pushed her in rage, or she fell. Her spirit still lingers in the house, according to many reports. Strangely, the association that runs the house won’t allow for a paranormal investigation of the property. Sounds like an admission of ghostly activity to us!
3. The House of Death
Address: 14 West 10th St.
The House of Death lives up to its name. The Greenwich Village brownstone, constructed in 1974, is said to be inhabited by 22 different spirits, including Mark Twain, who resided on premises in 1900. Actress-cum-psychic Jan Bryant Bartell wrote Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea based on her experiences in the house. Bartell claims that during the time she lived in the building, several tenants suffered gruesome deaths, including 6-year-old Jessica Steinberg, beaten to death by her own father. If this handsome brownstone has several vacancies, despite its ideal location, you now know why.
2. One If by Land, Two If by Sea
Address: 17 Barrow St.
Paranormal activity isn’t often a precursor to romance, but at classic NYC eatery One If by Land, Two If by Sea, you can enjoy both in tandem. The restaurant was once the carriage house of Alexander Hamilton and his daughter Theodosia, and their spirits still creep around the house. Staff members and diners alike have reported strange incidents, including lights flickering, patrons being shoved by spirits, and the earrings of women sitting at the bar repeatedly disappearing. The staff claims the spirits are benevolent, but if we’re paying $20 for a bowl of soup, we’d prefer it not come with a side of poltergeist.
1. Manhattan Bistro
Address: 129 Spring St.
A slew of one-star Yelp reviews are not the scariest thing about the now-shuttered Manhattan Bistro. The SoHo space has a long history of terror, tracing back to 1799, when young Gulielma Elmore Sands ran away from her boarding home to elope with her lover. Sands turned up dead in the Manhattan Well (now situated in the basement of the old bistro) the next day.
Speculations arose as to whether her lover, Levi Weeks, had murdered her to hide a pregnancy. Weeks was taken to trial, but thanks to the defense of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (why are they at the source of all New York’s ghost problems?!), Weeks got off the hook. But Sands spirit continues to remind us of the injustice.