I don’t know if I believe in ghosts but I believe in a good ghost story. Even though I’ve mostly moved towards digital reading, I still visit a bookstore from time to time. When there, I often look through the bargain book section and recently I happened upon a book published by West Side Publishing, a division of Publications International Ltd entitled
Armchair Reader Haunted America.
It being October, the month for all things Halloween, I bought the book. Under the plan to share some of the stories with my followers, the book has a group of stories about ghostly encounters in New York. This is my second post based on this book, here is the first.
The Ghosts of the Empire State Building
Opened in 1931, The Empire State Building is as well known to the world as the Statue of Liberty. It is not surprising that she has ghost stories connected with her history. Most of the ghostly sitings are generic such as white, filmy and silent apparitions roaming the building including ghosts that take a plunge over the edge. There is one ghostly encounter that is not generic. Referred to as the Ghost of World War II, a distraught female has been seen on the observation deck. She is pale, distracted and wearing red lipstick. She is distinct because she is wearing 1940s clothing. The most distinctive aspect of the sitings is that this ghost speaks directly to the living. She says, “My man died in the war” and goes on to tell of them being childhood sweethearts and their plans to marry when he returns from Germany but he never returned. She tells how she loved him and can’t live without him. A woman in 1985 reported that she plunged over the edge and returned a short time later to retell her story.
Other New York Ghosts
- Docents at the Merchant House Museum on East 4th Street have reporting the ghostly apparition of Gertrude Tredwell who had been born in the building in 1840 and lived there for 93 years. After her death in 1933, she continues to watch over her home. http://www.merchantshouse.com
- In 1776, the owner of Staten Island’s Conference House killed a servant girl in the building. Visitors have reported hearing feminine screams and seeing a heavyset Colonial aristocrat roaming the building. http://www.conferencehouse.org/
- In Washington Heights, the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest house in Manhattan. It was the home of Eliza Jumel whose second husband was noted politician, Aaron Burr (Burr-Hamilton Duel). She went mad late in life and has been seen still hanging around. In one reported incident, she tried to hush a group of children and when a medium tried to intervene, Eliza was arrogant, mean and delusional. It seems like she is still mad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris%E2%80%93Jumel_Mansion
- Manhattan’s St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery was built in 1795 on the farm of Peter Stuyvesant who ruled New Netherland (now New York) for the Dutch during the 17th Century. Stuyvesant’s known for his pet leg and other ghosts make frequent appearances in the church. http://smhlf.org/
- Recognized by his pointed goatee and the distinctive slouch hat that he wears, the ghost of legendary Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady has been seen roaming the area around St. Paul’s Chapel at the intersection of Fulton and Broadway. Here is a link to his gallery of famous portraits http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/gallery/gallery.html
- In 1804 after the infamous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, doctor treated Hamilton’s mortal wound at 27 Jane Street in Greenwich Village. Although he didn’t die there, a man dressed in Colonial attire has been spotted at the location.
- There is a legend that two phantom Royal Air Force pilots have been seen walking around Times Square before vanishing at midnight. A witness reported speaking with them 🙂 and said they always wanted to visit New York but had died in WWII before that had the chance.
- The old Crawley Mansion in Staten Island has a colorful history. In the 1800s, former circus performer, the dwarf-like Estelle Ridley turned to a life of crime. Posing as a young girl, she would smuggle stolen jewels in the doll that she carried. Partner in crime, Magda Hamilton would pose as her governess. Magda turned Estelle in after both women fell for the same man. Sentenced to life in prison, Estelle vowed revenge and then hung herself. Afterwards, Magda was found dead in her bed. Some believe Estelle jammed the doll’s porcelain head into Magda’s mouth. Visitors have reported seeing the pint-sized spirit on the property. I couldn’t find any links or photographs for this story. The only reference to Crawley was a mansion in Westbury Gardens, Staten Island but it was completed in 1906 and the website does not mention the incident of the story.
- The Fifth Avenue Ghost said to be the spirit of a Confederate general named Samuel McGowan was contacted during a series of seances in 1953. His ghost game the mediums eerily accurate details of 19th-century Manhattan.
- The residents of 11 Bank Street in Greenwich Village heard disembodied footsteps and unexplained pounding on the walls in the 1950s. After discovering an urn containing human remains hidden in the ceiling, they consulted a medium, gave it a proper burial and the noises ceased. http://infamousnewyorkrealestate.blogspot.com/2005/12/11-bank-street.html