As a city with nearly 400 years of history, NYC has accumulated its share of ghosts. Not ghost apartments, but the restless spirits that some say are found wandering the creaky halls of many city buildings. There are plenty of ways to go peacefully in New York, but some spirits are apparently harder to contain than others. Here are a few spots around town said to house some of the city’s supernatural residents.
85 West 3rd Street
One of several former Poe residences in NYC and elsewhere, this is where the writer called home as he crafted works like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Raven.” A once-stately 19th-century rowhouse has been replaced by an NYU dorm, but the historic facade remains. This dedication to preserving the history of the space may have just resulted in certain former residents yearning to stick around, however. Inside, the original banister remains preserved, and students swear they’ve seen the horror writer’s ghost ascending the stairs of their haunted Greenwich Village residence.
The Manhattan Well
Now sitting inside of a SoHo boutique (where it’s been preserved, keeping the spooky stories alive), the Manhattan Well was once the focus of the city’s earliest murder mysteries. In 1800, after absconding from her boarding house residence, Gulielma Sands vanished mysteriously until she was found weeks later in the well’s depths (then located in a sprawling meadow, if you can believe it). Her lover, Levi Weeks, was accused of her murder but attained acquittal with the help of an all-star team of lawyers (including future duelists Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton). Sands’ restless spirit is said to still inhabit the building, though boutique prices probably accomplish as much frightening as her ghost does.
Lefferts Laidlaw House
An historic Brooklyn Greek Revival mansion sitting a short distance from Fort Greene Park, this regal home was the center of a citywide sensation in 1878. Owner Edward Smith alerted police that he was being harassed, with knocks at his door, his windows being shaken, and loud noises occurring outside, but he never saw a culprit. Even after he convinced police to monitor his perimeter the harassment continued, culminating in a smashed window with no suspects in sight. A credulous account published in the New York Times assured that this legend would live on, and the house still attracts ghost hunters to this day.
The Astor Room
The world famous Kaufman Astoria studios has brought some of Hollywood’s biggest names to the Queens waterfront since 1920. From the Marx Brothers’ first films to Orange is the New Black, the filming complex has been a top attraction for a huge variety of film and TV productions. While most come and go in a matter of months, some are said to have taken up permanent residence nearby- even after death. Rudolph Valentino, big screen lothario and legendary thespian of the silent era, shot many films at the studio and was said to be especially enamored with the area before his tragic death at 31. Local ghost-watchers claim his spirit has taken up residence in the Astor Room, a speakeasy-style restaurant opened up at the site of the studio’s old cafeteria. If it’s indeed true, his spirit seems to have found a welcoming home, as his portrait is prominently displayed on the walls, watching over diners in a more tangible way.