Haunted New York City

31 Oct

This article ran in the New York Post recently, grabbing my attention:

New York’s most haunted

Ghosts of murder victims, suicides and spinsters roam Gotham. No wonder we’re the city that never sleeps.

When I read the article, my scalp crawled.

Sorry, it’s true. It’s CREEPY!

The article begins by telling us that “a 1991 New York Supreme Court decision ruled that failure to disclose ghosts is grounds for the nullification of a housing contract“.

On this website, I found the details behind this interesting Supreme Court ruling:

During the course of her ownership of the property at issue, which was located in Nyack, New York, Helen Ackley and members of her family had reported seeing numerous poltergeists in the house. Ackley had reported the existence of ghosts in the house to both Reader’s Digest and a local newspaper on three occasions between 1977 and 1989, when the house was included on a five-home walking tour of the city. Neither Ackley nor her realtor, Ellis Realty, revealed the haunting to Jeffrey Stambovsky before he entered a contract to purchase the house in 1989 or 1990. Stambovsky was from New York City and was not aware of the folklore of Nyack, including the widely known haunting story.

When Stambovsky learned of the haunting story, he filed an action requesting rescission of the contract of sale and for damages for fraudulent misrepresentation by Ackley and Ellis Realty. A New York Supreme Court (trial court) dismissed the action, and Stambovsky appealed.”

And, Wikipedia tells us more of Helen Ackley’s ghostly details:

She recounted to the press several instances in which the poltergeists interacted directly with members of her family. She claimed that grandchildren received “gifts” of baby rings, all of which suddenly disappeared later. She also claimed that one ghost would wake her each morning by shaking her bed. She claimed that when spring break arrived she proclaimed loudly that she did not have to wake up early and she would like to sleep in; her bed did not shake the next morning….Ackley sold the house to another buyer and moved to Florida in 1991. In 1993 Paranormal researchers Bill Merrill and Glenn Johnson with the aid of Helen Ackley said they claimed to have contacted the ghosts from Portland, Oregon. The ghosts were reported to have told them that it wasn’t as much fun haunting the house without Helen.”

The researchers Bill Merrill and Glenn Johnson wrote a book about the Nyack house and its ghosts – the book is called “Sir George The Ghost Of Nyack”

and can be found on Amazon.com and likely at your public library.

Anyway, back to the NY Post article.

Here are some of the alleged haunted places in the city:

*THE MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM, 29 E. Fourth St., between the Bowery and Lafayette Street

Their website says:

The Merchant’s House Museum is New York City’s only family home preserved intact — inside and out — from the 19th century.Built in 1832 just steps from Washington Square, this elegant red-brick and white-marble row house on East Fourth Street was home to a prosperous merchant family for almost 100 years.

Complete with the family’s original furnishings and personal possessions, the house offers a rare and intimate glimpse of domestic life in New York City from 1835-1865“.

The website also says that the museum is “Manhattan’s most haunted house.

It’s open Thursday – Monday, 12:00 – 5:00 PM

Admission $10, $5 seniors and students

Not a bad price, if you want to be SCARED TO DEATH.

Some say the Tredwells, who lived in this house for nearly 100 years, are still here. Gertrude Tredwell, in particular, is thought to be watching over her family home. Born in an upstairs bedroom in 1840, Gertrude never married and lived her entire life here until she died, at the age of 93, in 1933. She was the last member of the Tredwell family to occupy the house before it became a museum, in 1936.

Since the 1930s, tales of strange and unexplainable happenings have surrounded the Merchant’s House. Staff, volunteers, visitors, neighbors, even passersby, have reported seeing, hearing, and smelling things that weren’t there.

Over the years, a number of psychics and paranormal investigators have visited the site, but their findings have always been inconclusive. In 2006, the Museum decided to mount its own investigation with the help of Historic Paranormal Investigations, a NYC-based group. The evidence is mounting that, indeed, something is here.”

*CAMPBELL APARTMENT, 15 Vanderbilt Ave., at 43rd Street

The Grand Central website says:

Formerly the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon, John W. Campbell, the Campbell Apartment has been fully restored to its original splendor – and reborn as a chic cocktail lounge that has already been cited in the national media as one of “the best bars in America“.

The Apartment is open Monday – Saturday from 3:00 PM – 1:00 AM, Sunday from 3:00 PM – midnight.

The New York Post article says this:

It was a fairly busy night recently at the Campbell Apartment, the stylish bar located in a wing of Grand Central. A woman climbed the stairs and headed into the single bathroom upstairs and locked the door behind her.

A line quickly formed outside the loo. Restless bargoers waited for her to emerge. And waited. And waited.

Finally, management was summoned. They were unable to open the door, so they called a locksmith. The locksmith arrived and quickly disabled the lock, which had been latched from the inside. The door was opened, and inside the small bathroom was . . . nothing.”

(This is the part where my scalp crawled.)

It was empty. No sign of the woman whom multiple witnesses had seen go inside.

New York City: Where even the undead have trouble finding adequate public restrooms.

Campbell Apartment owner Mark Grossich and some of his staff suspect the woman might have indeed been a ghost. Her bathroom trick was only the latest in a series of events that have been plaguing the lounge with more frequency during the past year. An older couple in 1920s clothing has been spotted having drinks on the balcony. Wait staff have felt shoves, only to turn around and find no one there. A manager closing alone heard someone distantly calling his name.”

Wikipedia tells us about the space:

One of the most striking features was a Persian carpet that took up the entire floor and was said to have cost $300,000 at the time, or roughly $3.5 million today. Campbell added a piano and pipe organ, and at night turned his office into a reception hall, entertaining 50 or 60 friends who came to hear famous musicians play private recitals. He had a permanent butler named Stackhouse.

After Campbell’s death in 1957, the rug and other furnishings disappeared from his office and the space eventually became a signalman’s office and later a closet at Grand Central, where the transit police stored guns and other equipment. It also became a small jail, in the area of the present-day bar.”

Maybe prisoners died in that “small jail” – could they be some of the ghosts??

*THE HOTEL GRIFFOU, 21 W. NINTH St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

Griffou is now a restaurant. Its website tells us:

Griffou has captured the bohemian, creative, stylish atmosphere for which downtown New York is known. The restaurant gets its name from the 1870’s boarding house located in the same building and originally presided over by Madame Marie Griffou, a big-hearted French woman with a soft spot for creative types. Although it is no longer a hotel, Griffou retains a certain magic from its early days. The space itself was a focal point for artists, writers, and actors, who converged to discuss ideas, create, and of course, to be seen. It was one of the first places the early suffragettes met, and Mae West stopped by for a celebratory drink after her trial on indecency charges. A sampling of the writers that frequented Griffou includes Edna St Vincent Millay, Ida Tarbell and Mark Twain.”

The New York Post article has this to say about Griffou:

In June, Stacey Jones, founder of Central New York Ghost Hunters, investigated the Griffou — a former brothel and the scene of a 1905 murder-suicide. One of her techniques is to place a tape recorder in a room to capture so-called electronic voice phenomenon, the sounds of spirits. Down in the Griffou’s wine cellar, Jones began calling out a series of questions. “I asked, ‘Can you tell me about the key?’ Sometimes you just ask random questions and that gets results,” Jones says. While nothing was heard at the time, when Jones later listened back to her tape, an angry voice can be heard snarling, “What do you want to know about that key?


Wikipedia says:

Snug Harbor was founded by the 1801 bequest of New York tycoon Captain Robert Richard Randal. Randall left his country estate, Manhattan property bounded by Fifth Avenue and Broadway and Eighth and 10th Streets, to build an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen.”

From the NYPost:

Legend has it that a woman lived in one of the houses and kept her disabled son chained in the basement. He escaped and killed her with a pair of scissors. He was caught and hanged on the grounds.

The woman’s ghost has supposedly been spotted over the years, and residents have reported other strange happenings, such as church bells ringing unexpectedly, doors slamming suddenly and hearing phantom footsteps.”

*THE ANSONIA, 2109 Broadway, at 73rd Street

Wikipedia tell us about the Ansonia, in part:

The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City. It was originally built as a residential hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and share holder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist, Anson Greene Phelps. In 1899, Stokes commissioned architect Paul E. Duboy (1857–1907) to build the grandest hotel in Manhattan.

Stokes had a Utopian vision for the Ansonia—that it could be self-sufficient, or at least contribute to its own support—which led to perhaps the strangest New York apartment amenity ever. “The farm on the roof,” Weddie Stokes wrote years later, “included about 500 chickens, many ducks, about six goats and a small bear.” Every day, a bellhop delivered free fresh eggs to all the tenants, and any surplus was sold cheaply to the public in the basement arcade. Not much about this feature charmed the city fathers, however, and in 1907, the Department of Health shut down the farm in the sky.”

I LOVE the part about the bellhop delivering free fresh eggs to all the tenants every day!

From the NYPost article:

The Upper West Side’s Ansonia, built in 1904, has been the site of many hauntings. A resident reports that her dog walker once awoke in the middle of the night to find a hazy female figure standing over her. She also says one of the elevators is haunted.

Apparitions have often been spotted in the basement, as well. A current doorman says he once saw a shadowy figure down there, and a blogger named Maurice Valentine claims to have seen a ghostly man in period garb appear before him in the stockroom of the North Face store in the building.

“Our downstairs is haunted,” says Mickey Nelson, manager of the American Apparel store in the Ansonia. “People see dark shadows, and we always hear noises. It’s like a humming, but not a humming from pipes. It’s a weird, creepy hum.”

“The lights dim sometimes,” says employee Daisy St. John. “It’s like they have a mind of their own.”
*MANHATTAN BISTRO, 129 Spring St., at Greene Street

One of the city’s most famous spirits is the so-called Ghost of Spring Street, who allegedly inhabits the Manhattan Bistro.

In 1800, a young woman named Juliana Elmore Sands disappeared, later turning up dead at the bottom of a well. (The stone structure still stands in the restaurant’s basement.) It wasn’t long before the well became associated with mysterious goings-on. Witnesses claim to have seen fireballs or heard screams emanating from it. A popular 19th-century pastime was to gather round the well with friends to watch for ghosts.

Current owner Maria DaGrossa-Hanna says neighbors claim to have heard groans and rattling chains in the alley behind the restaurant. Her sister recently snapped a shot of the restaurant’s facade (see cover) that seemed to show a woman’s face looking out into the street. In 2000, DaGrossa-Hanna says wine bottles began flying off a shelf and crashing to the floor. “The way they did it, they didn’t just fall off the shelf, they flew,” she says.”

*THE HOUSE OF DEATH, 14 W. Tenth St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

Mark Twain once lived in the building, but it didn’t enter into Halloween lore until 1974 when a little-known actress named Jan Bryant Bartell published “Spindrift: Spray From a Psychic Sea,” which claimed No. 14 was haunted. Bartell wrote that a resident once discovered an old man in her apartment who said, “My name is Clemens, and I have a problem here I gotta settle,” before disappearing.

Shortly after arriving in 1957, Bartell’s dog died, followed quickly to the grave by — she claims — numerous other residents, either by suicide or other odd folly. In 1987, the building was the scene of more bad juju when Joel Steinberg killed his 6-year-old adopted daughter inside.”

*FRIARS CLUB, 57 E. 55th St.

The venerable comedy clubhouse was the site of another “Ghost Hunters” investigation.

“They say that the ghost of [vaudeville performer] Al Kelly is there,” Berry says. “I think that he might be. It seemed like something was playing with us.”

In 1966, Kelly died of a heart attack in the famous club’s dining room, and over the years, members have reported doors opening and closing and hearing strange sounds.

The “Ghost Hunters” team heard unexplained knocks on the door and Berry used an electromagnetic-field meter to conduct a “conversation” with a ghost he thinks might be Kelly.”


There are websites dedicated to haunted places within NYC, if you want to learn more.

This one looks good.

Happy Halloween, everyone!




4 Responses to “Haunted New York City”

  1. Hubby October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    It wouldn’t be the first time they were misleading/wrong, but you quote the New York Post as saying that “a 1991 New York Supreme Court decision ruled that failure to disclose ghosts is grounds for the nullification of a housing contract.” However, the info that follows seems to say that when the guy who bought the house and then tried to have the contract nullified on those grounds had his case thrown out.

    • sallanscorner October 31, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

      Sorry, my fault. I didn’t include ALL of the info from the different sites. Check out the links for all of the gory details. I believe that the case was repealed and that’s when the ruling was made. Fascinating stuff, yes?

  2. Ellen Girone October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I love haunted houses, paranormal activities, mediums, psychics and everything associated with it all! Whenever you want to visit any of those places let me know. I’m in!
    Love that stuff!

    • sallanscorner October 31, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      Let’s go, Ellen! There are quite a few of these places that I’d LOVE to visit! Grab your ghost-detecting equipment…

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