New York City's Top 5 Places That *Might* Be Haunted

Yesterday, I had the brilliant idea to break an entry and take a look for myself inside one of the city's notoriously "haunted" places: Greenpoint Hospital. Opened in 1914, the 5-building hospital unit operated throughout the 1980's and was last utilized as a men's shelter. One building, in particular, remains abandoned. Littered with deserted shoes, various fast food containers, and piles of trash, the former Nurse's Ward stands separate from the rest of the hospital unit, candidly creepy yet ethereal.

Supposedly haunted by former patients, Greenpoint Hospital is just one of many New York destinations rumored to be ghost-ridden. Here are a few more:

1. One if By Land, Two if By Sea:
Waiter, there's Paranormal Activity in my soup. The notoriously proposal-friendly romantic restaurant located on the West Village's Barrow Street is rumored to be haunted by former owner, Aaron Burr (the jackass you learned about in history class who challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel), and his daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, whose life ended after she was kidnapped and forced to walk the plank of a pirate ship. You can't make this up. Waiters and waitresses report frequent accounts of flying dishes, and even the occasional account of being pushed down the stairs by "invisible hands." Wicked!

Haunt factor: 8.5

2. White Horse Tavern:
This quaint NYC bar fails to mention one thing in the "history" section of its website, well known to many a literati local: it just so happens to be the location where Dylan Thomas drank 18 shots of scotch at his favorite corner table and proceeded to fall into a nice, long, permanent slumber somewhere outside, not so sober into the dark, drunk night. According to witnesses, Thomas's ghost visits the tavern every once in a while, always returning to that same old table. Chances are, like Thomas, they're probably just wasted.

Haunt factor: 4

3. Algonquin Hotel:
The location of the former "Round Table," a group of writers self-titled "The Vicious Circle" who met up every day for lunch following World War I, Algonquin Hotel hosts a variety of writerly spirits and has seen a growth in reported occurrences since recent renovations. That annoying Algonquin Cat -- yes, the hotel has a cat -- remains to annoy visitors as a Hotel Cat. 

Haunt factor: 6

4. The House of Death:
It might be enough to tell you that this 19th century brownstone located in Greenwich Village has seen 22 deaths within the confines of its own walls. Or, I could go on by noting author Mark Twain lived here at one time and moved out merely a year later, himself reporting supposed hauntings near the stairwell. Oh, and there was also an occupant who beat his 6-year-old daughter to death while living in the brownstone. Just imagine the place's co-op board.

Haunt factor: 8

5. The Palace Theatre:
Once an epicenter for the vaudeville world, Broadway's Palace Theatre is now reportedly home to over 100 spirits. Varying from the ghost of a tightrope actor who fell to his death during a life performance, a cellist, a crying child, and the former manager of the theatre, the Palace Theatre is notoriously rampant with "ghostly activity," not even counting the busloads of nearly-dead octogenarians on day trips to see another Angela Lansbury ringer.

Haunt factor: 9

As for Greenpoint Hospital? I'd give it a 4. While the ripped wallpaper and decrepit feel do lend to a certain eeriness, no "spiritual presence" was felt. Next time I'll go at 3 am equipped with an EMF detector, or at least a nice ouija board.

[atimm@villagevoice.com]


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