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The Ghosts of New York

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps for good cause. Its denizens are a busy bunch, and there just isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. Some might say that even a lifetime isn’t enough. There are those who would agree and some are no longer with the living. Are you ready to meet the Ghosts of New York?

Over three hundred years old, Manhattan is one of our country’s older cities, and unsurprisingly, has a long history of ghosts and hauntings to match. For history buffs and entertainment seekers alike, an evening walking tour is a winning way to learn more, and if you’re lucky, perhaps witness something spooktacular.

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The Ghosts of NYC

Ghosts of New York Tour

Ghosts of New York Walking Tours offers four haunted tours in NYC, each focusing on a different neighborhood and its otherworldly residents. In Greenwich Village, you’ll hear about Aaron Burr and Eleanor Roosevelt, while in Times Square, you’ll hear tales of Bob Fosse, George M. Cohan, and a showgirl with unfinished business.

ghots of new york

One of the most popular tours, “Peter Stuyvesant and His Ghostly Friends,” centers on the East Village. Meeting at an old churchyard, the tour begins with an introduction about the idea of specters, lost souls, and ghostly spirits. Throughout history, ghosts from all walks of life are tied together by a common thread: unfinished business.

Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of Manhattan, is the first of the night’s spooky subjects. Matt Baker, one of the group’s many tour guides, paints a rich picture of life in colonial New York, including where Stuyvesant, a horrible man with many enemies, fit in. Dying in exile, the unhappy governor has been said to be the cause of numerous mysterious instances, some over a hundred years apart.

Rather than relying on sensationalism and the type of scare tactics you might get in a carnival’s haunted house, Baker’s tour is full of rich historic detail and he prizes the depth of information he’s able to share with his audience. With anyone less devoted to his craft, this surely would skew dangerously towards being a dry social studies lesson, but on this tour, it’s never the case. Despite being laden with almost an encyclopedic knowledge of New York City culture and history, the tour is never boring; instead, it’s often laugh-out-loud funny thanks to Baker’s quick sense of humor and dry wit.

An area can be haunted in more ways than one, and with the East Village’s rapidly changing demographic, there are many cultural ghosts that haunt these blocks as well as formerly human. Baker points out these lonely specters out to the crowd: outside a ubiquitous Chase bank, there are the remnants of a local “Walk of Fame,” devoted to Jewish actors and performers.

Among the many fading tributes, one stands out in particular: Paul Muni, winner of the 1936 Academy Award for Best Actor has a star in the crumbling sidewalk. In 1956, he’d also gain a Tony Award for his performance in Inherit the Wind. Now, hipsters and college students traipse over this monument on their way to the ATM.

Part of any good tour is the unexpected. Outside of McSoreley’s, the country’s oldest continuously running bar, and a regular haunt of Eric Weisz (better known as Harry Houdini), Baker was challenged by a drunk who claimed he wasn’t a true New Yorker.

Without missing a beat, Baker proclaimed he’d been in the city since 1980. The drunk humbly bowed. Later, around the block, Baker admitted he came up with that on the spot. “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story,” he proclaimed, and the tour continued.

If the unexpected is what makes a tour really shine, then it would be ungracious of us to share the rest of the ghostly stories you’d hear throughout the evening. Needless to say, a number of very famous souls show up within Baker’s tales, all of who continue to have pressing business in our world. True New Yorkers, they simply haven’t found time to cross over.

Have Dinner at New Yorks Most Haunted Tavern

After your ghost tour, why not continue on to a haunted tavern? The White Horse Tavern is the second oldest tavern in NYC and dates back to 1880. The writer Dylan Thomas, best known for the poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night‘ is said to have died at his nearby hotel residence after a visit to the White Horse Tavern. It might be because of the 18 straight whiskeys shots, as lore will tell you if you visit. It’s said that his spirit might still haunt the place, rattling glasses and causing mischief. 

Haunted Hotels in New York

To truly have a truly haunted day in NYC, you must end the day with a stay at a haunted hotel!

The Algonquin Hotel

This historic hotel is located near the heart of Times Square. Since it opened in the early 1900s, the Algonquin Hotel has hosted literary and cultural icons such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood and Alexander Woollcott — a group that became known as the Algonquin Round Table.

In is also said that Harold Ross created the idea for The New Yorker at the hotel.

The lore says the spirits of the Round Table members may not have left the building. Hotel guests and staff have reported seeing Round Table members roaming the lobby and dining room. According to the Travel Channel, a psychic medium recently confirmed the presence of spirits in the hotel.

Check out reviews of The Algonquin on TripAdvisor or find best hotel rates at Hotels.com

Chelsea Hotel

The Chelsea Hotel has a long history of popularity with artists, writers, actors, and musicians. Most infamously, it was the place where Sex Pistol Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in room 100 in 1978.

This wasn’t the first death at the Chelsea, though. Remember Dylan Thomas from The White House Tavern? Guess where he was living when he stumbled home from the tavern? He was staying in room 205 when he became ill and died (in a local hospital).

In fact, there are many infamous quotes about the Chelsea Hotel, and here are a few favorites.

“David, you don’t want to get rid of the cracks and the crevices in the building because that’s where the ghosts hide. And if you get rid of the ghosts, the Chelsea will just be any other building.” ― Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli

“There used to be a murder, a suicide, and a fire every year.”― Gerald Busby told Vanity Fair.

Are you brave enough to stay the night?

Check out reviews of Hotel Chelsea on TripAdvisor or find best hotel rates at Hotels.com

Additional Ghost Tours NYC

The below ghost tours are with the company Get Your Guide. They offer great tour options. Below are a few of the best ghost tours in New York City.

  • New York City: Gangsters and Ghosts Walking Tour. Explore NYC from the perspective of its ghosts and gangsters. This is a two-hour history-based guided tour that uncovers the city’s best gangsters and ghost stories. Learn about the city’s dark side as you walk through world-famous neighborhoods.
  • New York: 2-Hour Ghost Walk and Paranormal Tour. Prepare to be spooked on this ghost walk of New York City. Discover strange paranormal activity in the “City That Never Sleeps.” Discover ghostly landmarks in the “Big Apple,” including the Greenwich Village haunt of a poet spook!
  • New York City: Catacombs by Candlelight. Discover the secrets hidden beneath the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral Little Italy. Enter areas of the church grounds that are otherwise barred from the public.

New York Pass

Planning a trip to NYC? Take along the New York Pass.

See the best attractions in New York City with one simple, convenient purchase that will save you money!

Admission to Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum, Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and 9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

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