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Haunted NYC: Here are the spookiest places in the city

New York is a hotbed for haunted history. Just look at the many ghost tours that operate on a regular basis in Greenwich Village and beyond. To find the spookiest spots in the city, though, we asked the operators of New York City ghost tours and ghost hunts their picks for the places that continue to send chills down their spines.

Washington Square Park

Photo Credit: Ghosts of New York Walking Tours

"The whole park is haunted," says Dr. Phil Schoenberg, founder of Ghosts of New York Walking Tours, which features the area in one of its 14 tours, Edgar Allan Poe and His Ghostly Neighbors of Greenwich Village.

The story goes that there are upward of 20,000 people buried in the Greenwich Village park, which was a potter's field during the late 1700s and early 1800s before becoming a park. "They stopped burying people in the 1820s," Schoenberg says. "They didn't do grave markers, just dumped them in."

A tree in the southeast corner of the park was also used for public hangings, according to Schoenberg. As far as unexplained phenomenon, people on his tour have captured orbs on camera in the park, he said.

Merchant's House Museum

Before she founded Boroughs of the Dead, which
Photo Credit: Merchant's House Museum

Before she founded Boroughs of the Dead, which operates ghost tours in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Andrea Janes volunteered at the Merchant's House Museum at 29 E. Fourth St. On several occasions, she'd get the feeling that someone was looking over her shoulder at the book she was reading. She also felt someone brush her arm and move past her while training for a tour.

"I've had moments that have caught me off guard in the house [and] I'm not a particularly psychic person," Janes says. "A lot of the staff members are downright skeptical, but even they have to admit there's something going on."

Before it was a museum, the house was inhabited by the Tredwell family, and it's been said that Gertrude Tredwell, who was born and died in the house at the age of 93 in 1933, never left. "People started seeing apparitions of her immediately when the house opened as a museum," Janes says. "People working on the house would see her on the stairs, gliding into the kitchen."

Today, the sightings have faded, but there's an average of four experiences a year reported by staffers, volunteers and visitors to the museum, Janes says, which are cataloged. "The house is kind of a time capsule in the middle of the East Village," Janes says. "If you're one of those people who are sensitive to energies around you, it's tough not to be affected by the house."

House of Death

To some, the brownstone at 14 W. 10th
Photo Credit: Haunted Manhattan

To some, the brownstone at 14 W. 10th St. is known as the Mark Twain House, as the author lived there at the turn of the 20th century. To others, it's the House of Death, due to nearly a dozen unexplained deaths in the house over the course of 25 years, said Brent Pedersen, founder of the two-year-old ghost tour company Haunted Manhattan.

"Starting in the 1930s is when strange things started occurring," he says. The actress, author and one-time resident Jan Bryant Bartell was inspired to write the 1974 book "Spindrift" based on her paranormal experiences in the house. One of the most famous cases involved Joel Steinberg, who in 1989 was convicted of murdering his illegally adopted daughter in the house.

"I think a lot of people get freaked out by the Joel Steinberg thing," says Janes, who also features the house on her tours. "It makes them feel really clamy all over. "It's really visceral."

Today, many believe the house is haunted by Twain himself. "If you go look at the entire block, you can point out that house," says Pedersen, who includes the stop on his Greenwich Village tour led by Professor Mortimer (pictured). "It just looks spooky."

The Red Room at KGB Bar

Before it became a literary outpost, this East
Photo Credit: Haunted Manhattan

Before it became a literary outpost, this East Village destination at 85. E. Fourth St. had a speakeasy overseen by mob boss Lucky Luciano on the third floor, said Pedersen, who includes the bar on his East Village tour led by Frankie the bartender (pictured). Some say he still oversees it.

"People see him up there on the third floor," he says. "There are a few murdered prostitutes still wandering around the place, too."

For even more frights, head to the second floor. "There's a huge mirror up on the second floor that's been said when you sit there and look at the mirror, there's a pair of red eyes over your shoulder staring back at you," says Pedersen, who has looked himself but never seen the eyes. "I'm not sure I want to see them."

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ghost Doctors organizes ghost hunts throughout the city
Photo Credit: Jennifer S. Altman

Ghost Doctors organizes ghost hunts throughout the city at spots such as Grand Central Terminal, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The latter is "pretty weird sometimes," says Stew Kandel, who runs the business with his brother, Pete.

"We've had past experiences where we picked up some strange and unusual activity." That's included voice phenomenon --strange recordings -- in areas like the Egyptian wing. The hunts involve equipment like EMF meters, infrared temperature detectors and digital cameras to seek out activity, and it can be hit or miss.

"Ghost hunting is like fishing -- you can catch a lot of fish one day, the next day not so much," Pete says. "That's the excitement of it -- you never know what's going to happen."

Because of its age and number of visitors, the Met is a good candidate for a hunt. "The Met has been around since 1872," Stew says. "Millions of people go there every year, plus it's loaded with antiquities that span eons."

Atlantic Avenue and Court Street, Brooklyn

You wouldn't know it looking at it today,
Photo Credit: Google Maps

You wouldn't know it looking at it today, but this Brooklyn intersection is supposedly haunted.

"I don't think there's any spooky atmosphere, there's lots of activity and there's a Trader Joe's there, but there are lots of ghost stories," says Janes, who includes the spot on her Haunted Brooklyn Heights tour. One story goes that there was a man murdered and buried there, others say there are ghosts in the closed-off tunnel underneath the street.

"It's the most unassuming, least-haunted place you could imagine," Janes says. "But there are so many stories about that particular corner."


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