The next time you are walking in Central Park, check out the mysterious witch flying on a broomstick that’s carved into Bethesda Terrace. More than a few New Yorkers and tourists have scratched their head over its meaning.
Jonathan Kuhn, NYC Parks’ Director of Art & Antiquities, said that there is a non-supernatural solution for the witch’s presence in the Bethesda Terrace staircase. The witch was the brainchild of English-born architect Jacob Wrey Mould in the mid-1800s. It was part of a series that was supposed to symbolize night, day and all four seasons.
“Unfortunately the plan was never realized, so the only hint of the plan that remains is in the staircase,” he said.
Most haunted neighborhood
New York City has more than its fair share of death, destruction of misery. But what is the most haunted part of the five boroughs? Metro reached out to Philip Schoenberg, author of “Ghosts of Manhattan” and founder of “Ghosts of New York Walking Tours,” to find out what he thought.
“In my opinion the East Village with its many celebrity ghosts is the most haunted,” Schoenberg said. “It has the most reported ghosts in the city. From St. Mark’s Church to the Bowery to Cooper Union to the Public Theater, the area is full of the spirits of the undead.”
Spookiest landmarked ruins in the city
If you journey to look at the remains of the old Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island, you can almost hear the screams of pain from former patients.
The hospital opened its doors in 1856 and quickly became the place where poor souls infected with the disease were shipped, because of the hospital’s isolation from the city. In the 1970s the remains of the hospital were added to the National Register of Historic Places and plans are now underway to open the ruins to the public.
The House of Death
The beautiful brownstone façade at 14 West 10th Street may look pretty, but don’t let it fool you. The building has a terrifying history — 22 people have allegedly died inside of the house. To top off the creepiness, it was also the house where attorney Joel Steinberg beat his 6-year-old daughter Lisa to death in 1987.
Halloween at a Graveyard
All cemeteries are by definition kind of creepy, but if you are looking to spend Halloween eve traipsing among the dead, Trinity Cemetery at Trinity Church is the place to go. The cemetery was opened in 1697 and is the final resting place of such luminaries as Alexander Hamilton.
For Halloween, Trinity Church is hosting a trick-or-treat at the cemetery with apple cider and a showing of the 1920 silent film “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” inside the church.
Oldest paranormal researchers in the city
Let’s face it, there are some phenomena that seem to defy logic. When that happens, a group called the American Society for Psychical Research takes over. The group was founded in 1885 in NYC with the mission to “explore extraordinary or as yet unexplained phenomena that have been called psychic or paranormal and their implications for our understanding of consciousness, the universe and the nature of existence.”
Recently, that has included investigating premonitions of 9/11 and reports about near-death experiences. Harry Houdini, the famous magician, also helped them investigate some cases of the unknown.
Best place for an underground glimpse of the past
There are plenty of abandoned subway lines and tunnels under New York City. A lucky few can catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful of them if they stay on the 6 train as it loops from the City Hall Station back to uptown. The 6 train sometimes quickly passes through an old station that was closed in 1945 and is full of majestic architecture. Who knows how many forgotten passengers are haunting the station?
Creepiest urban legend in the five boroughs
Don’t be afraid. It’s just a story – how often has a scary story started like that? Well, sometimes legends turn out to have a hint of reality to them.
For kids growing up in Staten Island, the story of "Cropsey" the escaped mental patient who lived in old abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution was as well known as the story of Bloody Mary or the bogeyman. But the story sadly took on a hint of truth when a 12-year-old girl was found murdered there in 1987. The ruins of the buildings still stand in the Staten Island Greenbelt.