A wealthy widow’s spirit has shown up to shush school children from the balcony of her Washington Heights mansion. The victims of century-old gang wars in Chinatown still stalk a street bend. Voices of the long-dead whisper in fire houses, churches and old taverns.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the past seeps into the present of the City That Never Sleeps. A good ghost story doesn’t just bring chills, but also a connection to New York’s 400-year history.
Angela Artuso, director of the Gotham Paranormal Research Society, said ghost hunters like herself are almost more history buffs than anything else. Haunted places are where the living and the dead reach out and, sometimes, find each other.
“It seems to come alive, it’s almost as if they want their story to be told,” Artuso said.
Artuso offered Patch readers a few New York City places where her group conducted ghost investigations.
Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights boasts a long history.
A British officer built the mansion in 1765 but abandoned it as the Revolutionary War broke out. George Washington took it over and used it as his headquarters for a time before Stephen and Eliza Jumel moved in. Eliza Jumel later married Aaron Burr, who famously shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel — in fact, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote songs for his Broadway hit “Hamilton” in the mansion.
It’s also one of the most haunted places in New York City, Artuso said.
“It’s a very active location,” she said. “Every time we have events there somebody always leaves with an experience like a disembodied voice or knocking.”
Artuso said school children have reportedly seen the spirit of Eliza Jumel come out on the balcony and motion for them to quiet down.
The mansion is now a museum. It holds regular tours, including paranormal-themed ones, said Shiloh Holley, the museum’s executive director.
“We do tours four days a week,” she said.
There are no paranormal tours scheduled before Halloween, but visitors can still book a tour online, Holley said. They can also take advantage of private paranormal investigation bookings, she said.
More information can be found at the museum’s website.
Fraunces Tavern Museum
Another spooky New York place with a Revolutionary War tie is Fraunces Tavern.
This Financial District tavern and museum is where George Washington bid farewell to his officers after British troops left America. More souls passed through 54 Pearl St. and apparently still come back to visit, if they ever left.
Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District doubles as both a museum and restaurant. (Shuterstock/agsaz)
Artuso said Gotham Paranormal Research Society members recently conducted an investigation at the tavern.
“Staff there have heard footsteps, disembodied voices,” Artuso said.
The museum is open for visits, as is outdoor dining at the active restaurant.
Visit here for more information.
New York City Fire Museum
The power of recent history permeates this old Spring Street fire house — the official museum of the Fire Department of New York.
The Fire Museum displays relics from 9/11, when hundreds of firefighters died as the World Trade Center towers burned and fell.
Artuso finds it an incredibly powerful space, overwheling even — and also one where the paranormal society declines to hold public investigations out of respect.
It also houses decades worth of artifacts of FDNY history, including a taxidermied dog named “Chief” who decades ago somehow scampered down fire poles before leaping onto fire trucks.
“He looks like he’s been there for 10 years but he’s actually over 100 years old,” she said.
The New York City Fire Museum is reported to be haunted. (Google Maps)
The museum also appears to be haunted, Artuso said.
“In the museum itself, there’s claims of footsteps, voices were heard, heavy voices were heard when no one in the museum,” she said.
Visit here to find out more information on the Fire Museum.
Doyers Street ‘Bloody Angle’
The odd bend of Doyers Street in Chinatown is home to restaurants and occasional quizzical tourists’ looks.
And, perhaps, spirits caught in a long-ago gang war.
“It’s said the spirits of murdered gang members walk the streets,” Arturo said.
For decades, gangs battled for control over Doyers Street and surrounding tenements. The violence inflicted by hatchets inspired not only the nickname “hatchet men” for murderers but also the street’s moniker — the “Bloody Angle.”
Arturo’s group’s ghost investigations have yielded EVPs — “electronic voice phenomenon” — said to be spirit voices. A recent Inside Edition online story featured those ghostly voices apparently responding to cues in Chinese language.
Going Ghost Hunting
Those suggestions only scratch the surface of New York City’s ghostly past.
Arturo suggests seeking out ghost tours online, provided they’re still going amid the coronavirus pandemic. She suggested bringing along a recorder and listening back for any ghostly voices.
People can also visit the Gotham Paranormal Research Society website for a list of haunted locations across the city and state.