Everything must be new, new, new in this relentless city, but that doesn’t deter the ghosts of New York City’s past to linger in the corners of bars and inns of their bygone days. Plenty of tourist traps are devoted to luring semi-believers into shilling cash to learn about so-called haunted venues, so CP thumbed through the dusty archives of Haunted New York to give you its eeriest spots.
NYC’s #1 Most Haunted Place: The White Horse Tavern
Can you think of a more poetic death than gulping eighteen shots of whiskey and passing out cold on the sidewalk in front of your favorite watering hall? Dylan Thomas knew how to exit with fanfare; and he did just that in a West Village hangout that has since earned most of its income on the unfortunate artist’s death in November 1953. But there is a particular reason why all the wannabe-poets still swarm at this rustic bar in search of inspiration. The story of Dylan’s boozey tumble—eagerly repeated by the staff—is buttressed by the fact that his favorite table for drinking and writing still stands proudly at the Tavern. If he happened to be doing both drinking and writing, he would twist the table slightly in order to make it easier to access the paper. And according to the staff, they find this one corner table slightly twisted every morning, even if they make sure to line it up before closing.
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NYC’s #2 Most Haunted Place: Bridge Cafe
Erected in 1794, the Bridge Café is one of the oldest original taverns in New York City, and the café’s exterior—an unchanged facade of an 18th century waterfront—is a natural oasis for ghost stories. Like nearly every building on Water Street in the 19th century, this stern establishment used to house a brothel. One of the owners was a mariner, and the space, which turned into a shady watering hole early in the 19th century, allegedly attracts river pirates, who are said to still occasionally visit the bar. Ghosts of prostitutes were not reported.
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NYC’s #3 Most Haunted Place: Manhattan Bistro
This seemingly cheerful and cozy Franco-American eatery hides a dark secret and lots of ghostly drama. In the basement of Manhattan Bistro is a well, which was a failed hideout for the body of Elma Sands, murdered in December 1799, allegedly by her fiancé, Levi Weeks. As Weeks was never sentenced (his defenders were Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton), the ghost of the murdered woman cannot find peace and wreaks havoc on the bistro by knocking over ashtrays and bottles. Some people also claim to have noticed a girl wearing a dirty dress covered with moss perched forlornly at a table. Note: even if the Elma’s story doesn’t scare you, anyone who’s seen The Ring will know that wells are nothing but trouble.
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NYC’s #4 Most Haunted Place: Ear Inn
“Please tell us if you see any ghosts,” appeal the owners of Ear Inn on their website. The building was erected in 1817 for James Brown, an African-American man fighting alongside George Washington during the Revolution. Throughout its existence, Ear Inn has been a boarding house, speakeasy, smugglers’ den and a brothel. When a pub opened on the ground floor at some point in the 19th century, it quickly became the favorite hangout of sailors—including Mickey, who lived in a room above the establishment. His ghost is said to return after closing time and goose the startled waitresses. During the open hours, the customers also often experience mysterious disappearance of their drinks. Sure, blame it on the ghosts.
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NYC’s #5 Most Haunted Place: Waverly Inn
Built in 1844, Graydon Carter’s beloved Waverly Inn has been haunted since by “ghostly figures” prone to pyromania. In the 1997 fire, the building was decimated, save for one room. The employees claim that the room is where the ghost causing fires liked to linger. Even in the late 90s several reports about ghoulish costumers were noted (and not just pasty Kirsten Dunst). Among them was a waistcoat-wearing phantom with a penchant for rearranging the dining room. But now, alas, this old-school, dark-wood filled eatery is mostly haunted by local celebrities, and we doubt any ghosts would survive the assault of Manhattanite snobbery.
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NYC’s #6 Most Haunted Place: One If By Land, Two If By Sea Restaurant
One If By Land, Two If By Sea Restaurant is located in a former carriage house of Aaron Burr—he of the infamous duel with Alexander Hamilton. Burr’s ghost is said to throw and break plates in the restaurant and sometimes even move chairs. As if that was not a sufficient dose of supernaturalism for one New York franchise, the spirit of Burr’s daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, who disappeared in North Carolina on her way to visit her father in New York, is also rumored to haunt the carriage house.
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NYC’s #7 Most Haunted Place: The Dakota Building
One of the chicest addresses on the Upper West Side, the Dakota building is now among the most coveted addresses in the world. But that doesn’t change the fact that many eerie stories are linked with 1 West 72nd Street. In the 60s, the construction workers were said to have seen a ghost of a young boy dressed in a way outdated outfit. And, needless to say, John Lennon was murdered while exiting the front door—some believe that his ghost also visits it from time to time. No wonder this is the place where Roman Polanski chose to shoot Rosemary’s Baby. What could prove better that nothing will discourage New Yorkers from snatching an attractive housing opportunity?
NYC’s #8 Most Haunted Place: Belasco Theatre
This hollow, forbidding theater was creepy even before Gaston Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera. But Belasco Theatre excites human fantasy even more, since its builder, David Belasco, used to live in a duplex apartment above the theatre until his death in 1931. No wonder that his ghost is now allegedly roams the building, a