Hallowed halls: The most haunted buildings in NYC

Where do the ghouls call home in the city?

TRD New York /
Oct.October 31, 2017 01:55 PM

The Dakota and a ghoul (credit: iStock)

Suicides. Murders. Ghosts. And that’s just in the foyer.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the city is home to many buildings some very compelling stories of the undead who remain within them.

In honor of Halloween, The Real Deal looked at the legends behind some of the city’s most haunted buildings.

84 West 3rd Street

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper bought this Greenwich Village townhouse in 2010, and ran an extensive renovation on it, according to Thrillist. The building was a former firehouse, and in 1930, a firefighter was said to have hanged himself from the rafters after discovering his wife’s affair. For years, firefighters claimed to hear weird noises and to see the shape of a dead body floating in the air.

The Dakota (credit: CityRealty)

The Dakota

One of the city’s most prestigious co-ops, the property is also home to a ghost or two, depending on who you believe. Many years after John Lennon’s murder, for example, his widow Yoko Ono said she saw his spirit sitting at the piano, telling her “Don’t be afraid. I am still with you.” Other residents also claim to have seen the ghost of young girl who strolls the halls of the building. The property’s exteriors were also featured in Roman Polanski’s horror film “Rosemary’s Baby.”

The building’s original owner, Edward Clark, reportedly had a penchant for seances to to commune with the dead. The tradition is living on, apparently. Earlier this year, Larry Milstein, 22, and his sister Toby, 24, the adult children of real estate family worth an estimated $3.1 billion, held a seance in their parents unit to reawaken the ghost of Leonard Bernstein, a former resident of the building.

14 West 10th Street

This townhouse was once home to writer Mark Twain, and his ghost is said to still haunt the building. More recently, former attorney Joel Steinberg beat his six-year-old adopted daughter to death in the building in 1987. In total, there are reportedly 22 ghosts floating around this brownstone, which was built in 1856. It is known as the “House of Death,” and is now separated into 10 rental units.

The Octagon

The Octagon

Now a high-end rental building at 888 Main Street on Roosevelt Island, the Octagon is at the former entrance to the New York Lunatic Asylum. It features a five-story rotunda that made it through the demolition of the hospital. The complex now has six open-air tennis courts, a heated outdoor swimming pool, and a 2,200-square-foot fitness center, according to StreetEasy. The average rental price is $2,705. Some pet owners in the building claim their dogs refuse to go down certain stairs.

“She’ll stare at the corner of the ceiling and start barking as if something is there,” resident Bill Long told the New York Daily News in 2015.

214 West 42nd Street

The New Amsterdam Theatre, where “Aladdin” is now playing, has one of the most “active” Ghosts On Broadway, according to Playbill. A former Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl, Olive Thomas committed suicide by swallowing mercury pills in 1920. Legend has it that she has haunted the theater ever since. Over the years, she reportedly flirted with stagehands, and even may have fetched a child’s booster seat for a show in 2014.

The Chelsea Hotel

The Chelsea Hotel

Now owned by a BD Hotels-led partnership, the Chelsea Hotel has been the site for many famous deaths. Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious, was found stabbed to death in the room the couple shared. Poet Dylan Thomas died of pneumonia in another room. All three are said to continue to haunt the building, which is being redeveloped as hotel rooms and condominiums, according to past hotel guests.


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