Haunted Apartments in New York City

Updated on August 27, 2016

The Dakota

The Dakota was completed in 1884 and is located at One West 72nd Street in New York City. The Manhattan residence is very exclusive and very mysterious. There have been ghostly sightings there for many, many years.

After John Lennon was murdered in front of the building by an insane fan in 1980 his wife, Yoko Ono, continued to live there. She claims to have seen John sitting at his piano and saying, “Don't be afraid. I am still with you.” Before his death John had claimed to see a lady ghost walking the halls and crying.

There are several other apparitions that have been seen roaming the halls. One was a little girl dressed in clothing from an earlier time. She had long, blonde hair and would often be seen bouncing a rubber ball up and down the hallway.

Judy Holliday was an actress and singer who lived at The Dakota. After her death in 1965, the Smith family moved in. They hired three workers to repaint the walls and revarnish the woodwork. The handymen all claimed to have a constant feeling of being watched and one said he saw a little boy, about ten years old and dressed in clothing from the early 1900s. Whenever he appeared the air would smell musty. All three claimed to have seen a figure with the body of a man but the head of a child.

There was a couple, Frederick and Suzanne Weinstein, that lived on the third floor and frequently heard footsteps and other unexplained noises in their apartment. In the dining room, rugs and chairs had a tendency to move around all on their own. Mr. Weinstein told a story of coming home one evening and seeing a brightly lit chandelier through the window. He thought his wife had bought it as a surprise for him, but once he got inside there was no chandelier. But there were bolts in the ceiling as if a chandelier had hung there, but they had not been there before.

The basement was another site of several unusual occurrences. The porter told one of the tenants that a snow shovel had flown off the wall and nearly hit him. The tenant, Wilbur Ross, didn't believe the porter when he told him he had seen bags of garbage moving by themselves. Then a metal rod suddenty flew across the room and landed precisely at his feet. He tried to pick it up and couldn't. It felt as if it either weighed a ton or was cemented to the floor.

Three years after John Lennon's death a musician who lived near The Dakota claimed to have seen John's ghost in the doorway, “He was surrounded by an eerie light.” A female writer with him at the time corroborated his story. It is believed Lennon still makes visits to The Dakota.

House of Death

The House of Death was a Greek Revival home built in the late 1850s at 14 West Street. It is supposedly haunted by 22 different ghosts. The most famous one is Mark Twain, who lived there in 1900 and 1901. He has been seen dressed in a white suit near the staircase and on the first floor. In the 1930s, a mother and her daughter encountered him near a window and he spoke to them. He said, “My name is Clemens and I has a problem here I gotta settle.” Then he vanished right before their eyes.

Before becoming known as The House of Death it was home to some very wealthy and influential people. The wife of James Boorman Johnston lived in the famous brownstone. He was a founding member of the Metropolitan Underground Railroad and the Broadway Underground Railroad.

The single family home was converted into ten apartments in 1937. The top floor apartment, which had originally been the servants' quarters, was home to actress Jan Bryant Bartell and her husband. Almost immediately after moving in she began to feel a presence she could only describe as “a monstrous moving shadow.” She wrote a book completed in 1974, Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea, that told the story of her struggle with the paranormal.

In 1987 the second floor was inhabited by the closest thing to a demon this side of Hell. Joel Steinberg was once a criminal defense lawyer. In November 1987 police officers responded to a call that there was a child who was not breathing. Steinberg had an illegally adopted daughter named Lisa and a baby. At about 7:00 a.m. The officers found the 6-year-old girl unconscious. There was also a baby tied to a playpen. Lisa died a few days after being declared brain dead. The baby survived.

The Osborne Apartments

Built in 1885 next to Carnegie Hall at 205 W. 57th Street, The Osborne Apartments has had many famous tenants. It has at least two ghosts.

One is Alfredo Taylor. He was an architect who, in 1906, designed an addition to the building. He has been seen roaming the halls and riding the elevators, always with a watch fob hanging from his hand.

The other ghost was Johanna Gadski. She was a mezzo-soprano from Germany and lived at The Osborne Apartments while she was singing at the Metropolitan Opera before the start of World War I. The residents who have lived in her apartment since her death have reported many strange sightings and doors closing and opening as if pushed by an unseen hand.

Davida Deutsch, the unofficial historian of The Osborne, moved into her apartment in 1971. She described the first night as “harrowing.” She and her husband had heard stories of ghosts wandering around and when they went to bed they armed themselves with a broom. They finally went to sleep but were awakened in the night by a horrendous bang. They admitted to being “scared to death.”

123 On the Park


123 On the Park is an opulent apartment building in Brooklyn, but it definitely did not start out that way. Before it was turned into a luxury rental property it was the Caledonian Hospital from 1910 to 2003. It sat empty for years, but after major renovations by the new owners, Ideal Properties Group, it opened in 2004 as a sumptuous home to many, with a playroom, yoga studio, fitness center and a roof deck.

It didn’t take long for the spirits who still lived there to make their presences known. The occupants reported all sorts of strange voices, smells, and sounds. They would hear footsteps all over the building when no one was there. Three doormen quit their jobs within six months. The remaining doorman told the New York Post that the building “is a messed up place to work because it’s haunted.” The managing director, Aleksandra Scepanovic, admits there has been a higher than average turnover of employees and there have been some problems getting people to rent there.

The Octagon

The Octagon is an apartment building located on Roosevelt Island. It stands on the site that was once home to the New York Lunatic Asylum. It was built in 1834 and had a horrible reputation. It was overcrowded and underfunded. The staff was negligent and the living conditions were dreadful. The famous journalist Nelly Bly wrote a scathing article entitled Ten Days in a Mad House. Bly’s exposé helped change the way America looked at mental healthcare. Charles Dickens said of the asylum, “Everything had a lounging, listless, madhouse air, which was very painful.”

The asylum finally closed in the 1950s and sat empty for years. In 2006, a developer turned the site into apartments. Residents have reported paranormal activity and unusual incidents. Even the pets that live there now refuse to walk up the stairs.

show route and directions
A markerThe Dakota -
The Dakota, 1 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023, USA
get directions

B markerHouse of Death -
14 W 10th St, New York, NY 10011, USA
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C markerThe Osborne Apartments -
205 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019, USA
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D marker123 On the Park -
123 Parkside Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226, USA
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E markerThe Octagon -
888 Main St, New York, NY 10044, USA
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    • CYong74 profile image

      Cedric Yong 15 months ago from Singapore

      Hi JamaGenee, I know that John was shot outside it. The murderer, if I remember correctly, approached him for an autograph or something. Still, the proximity forever marked the Dakota. You're right to say a few steps more and the Dakota would have escaped this infamy.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 15 months ago from Central Oklahoma

      CYong74, John Lennon was not killed **in** the Dakota, but outside on the sidewalk in front of it. Had he been attacked a block from there, or in nearby Central Park, the Dakota wouldn't be forever linked to his death.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Cedric Yong 15 months ago from Singapore

      I read that ironically, the Lennons thought the Dakota would be a more secure home compared to their previous ones. And now it's forever the stuff of urban legends and ghostly horrors.

    • Sarah Jewel profile image

      Lori Gross 16 months ago from Nashville

      I'm so please you enjoyed it!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 16 months ago from Central Oklahoma

      Sarah, thank you for a perhaps too-informative early morning dose of the creepy crawlies! I already knew about John Lennon and other apparitions at the Dakota, but the rest were new to me. Again, thanks!

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