Ever wander around Brooklyn and end up in front of one of the creepy old abandoned buildings that are everywhere and suddenly get that goosebumpy “being watched” vibe? Ghosts totally live in there. Brooklyn is OLD and you know loads of folks died mysterious and macabre deaths that left their spirits lingering in the bones of the building, burdening subsequent tenants with the dark aura of unfinished business.
Syfy’s Paranormal Witness recently featured (an unintentionally hilarious) CGI rendering of the otherworldly occupants of a Gravesend townhouse, and it got me to wondering about other freeloading spirits of Brooklyn’s past who refuse to give up rent-free residence and go into the light. You think the DJ upstairs is an annoying neighbor? Try living in some of these spooktacular Brooklyn abodes.
455a Sackett Street: According to neighborhood gossip, this innocent looking facade on an innocuous, blue collar block between Gowanus and Carroll Gardens hosts a long history of tragedy. A former tenant from the late 90s claims she had an extremely harrowing year in 455a including unexplained fires, a collapsing ceiling, mournful cries of children, apparitions, and general creepy presence. Another former tenant (in the comments of that story) mentioned finding an “altar like thing and no joke a pair of girl’s roller skates with cake [sic] on blood and a small boys clothes” in a hidden storage room under the porch. Corcoran recently had the apartment on the market and apparently it has a garden AND a balcony. I could totally live with a few pissed off spirits for that kind of square footage. New tenants, invite us over for a seance!
169 Clinton Street: The apartment that once housed legendary horror writer and notorious racist H.P. Lovecraft and allegedly inspired the short story “The Horror at Red Hook” is actually located on the corner of State and Clinton Streets in what is now considered Brooklyn Heights. Lovecraft once described the place as “something unwholesome – something furtive – something vast lying subterrenely [sic] in obnoxious slumber – that was the soul of 169 Clinton St. at the edge of Red Hook, and in my great northwest corner room.” Modern-day tenants described the place to the Post as exhibiting all the cliched signs of a haunting such as stuff falling and disappearing, unexplained noises, and bad dreams. The Post reports that the disturbances could be because the ghost of Mr. Lovecraft (who didn’t die there by the way) just doesn’t like Jews living in his apartment. Really. Of coruse, since he hated all of Brooklyn, he’d probably be willing to haunt anyone that lives in his old digs.
46 Willow Place: I have absolutely no evidence this place is haunted, but come on…
dilapidation of the facade ghosts are clearly affecting market value. Even the internet thinks this place is mysterious. There are no substantive hits on the place except people wondering ‘WTF is up with this weird building.’
Other landmarks haunted by the ghosts of departed Brooklynites:
Brooklyn Naval Hospital Complex: Built in 1838, this place has a long history of patients who likely met a painful, tormented demise within its walls. The Hospital Annex, used to confine wounded Confederate prisoners in the basement during the Civil War, was the site of the first distillation of anesthetic ether (before that: “bite down on this”), and took in over 4,700 wounded soldiers during World War II before it was decommissioned in 1948. The Annex has since sat abandoned on the edge of the East River succumbing to the decay of time and neglect. Steiner Studios recently announced plans to turn the complex into a “media campus” that will eventually house tech start-ups, film and tv production studios and sound stages, and academic facilities. The project will create a lot of new jobs, but no word on how many will be grandfathered for Civil War ghosts.
McCarren Pool: And you thought floaters and rowdy teenagers were disruptive to a relaxing day at the pool. According to a New York ghosts expert, back in the pool’s golden age, there were a series of tragic deaths including drowning while drunk night swimming (duh) and shooting/stabbing incidents (some things never change). Prior to the renovations, witnesses claimed to hear the cries of a little girl and an eerie chill on hot summer nights. In 2004 Paranormal Investigation of NYC took their Proton Packs and other ghostbusting equipment into the abandoned structure and allegedly captured photos showing “orbs” (which could indicate illumination of spirit of the dead OR dust particles), drastic temperature drops were reported along with electromagnetic field readings that were very active. All, according to ghost experts, evidence of paranormal activity. I hope the mayor allocated some of the $50 million renovation fund to spiritual cleansing and exorcism fees.
Whole Foods Holdout: Local business associations and historical preservation societies won’t be the only moaning you’ll hear at the new mega-organic cheese and produce monger. The grocery giant will be built around the landmarked Coignet Stone Company building on the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street in Gowanus. So if you feel a lurking presence over your shoulder while comparing labels for gluten and preservative content, or an invasive “being watched” vibe as you fondle the produce, maybe it’s the ghost of cement barons voicing their displeasure at your support of corporate sprawl in the neighborhood. Or maybe it’s security cameras. You do look a bit like a homeless klepto with those grody old jorts and knapsack.
Neponsit Health Center: Technically this abandoned nursing home is in Queens, but given its proximity to Fort Tilden, we’re including it. Plus the story is just too creepy to omit. In September 1998, nearly 300 patients were suddenly evacuated in the dead of night. Mayor Giuliani claimed the building was in danger of imminent collapse, but inspections found no such structural problems. Some kids made this spooky video inside the ruins of what was left behind after the emergency exodus (apparently someone is still paying the electric bills). Workers at the Riis Park concession stand said there are tunnels under the boardwalk leading from the hospital out to the shore for covert escapes and evacuation of bodies. No evidence of such tunnels has been uncovered, but I think we all saw American Horror last week…
The Batcave: “Open your eye girl” is the message this looming skeleton silently projects on revelers as they party every warm Sunday away at Gowanus Grove. According to Abandoned NY, a group of homeless youths settled in the abandoned MTA powerhouse building in the early aughts, but soon “heroin use and overdose grew rampant, and a wave of brutality overwhelmed the Batcave. Drug-induced violence culminated in a series of nightmarish events, one homeless man was thrown from a window, another overdosed and was left on the street for cops to find.” Frequent subject of interest for urban explorers, the Batcave is a beautiful and sad portrait of the ghosts of heroin addicts, squatters and runaways whose unrest is captured in haunting graffiti grievances.
Green-Wood Cemetery: As if the ancient crypts and eerie old headstones did not sufficiently invoke the spirit of the dead, the hills of what is now Green-Wood Cemetery was the front line of the Battle of Brooklyn. One of the biggest battles of the Revolutionary War, in August of 1776 nearly a thousand soldiers fell while holding off the British advance and allowing General Washington and the rest of the American army to retreat to Brooklyn Heights. According to local historians, the bodies of the fallen were laid in a mass grave a few miles north in Gowanus, where you can now enjoy a lovely piece of artisanal pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Feel free to enjoy a tour of the graves this weekend, just don’t get your foot caught in that hole. I was too scared to see what was in it.
Who you gonna call?
With all the old buildings around Brooklyn, we’re sure some of you have experienced something unexplained. If your peace and sanity are being disturbed by a supernatural presence or otherwise curious bumps in the night, Paranormal Investigation of NYC might be able to help. At the very least, their list of investigations shows they’re experienced.
Or you can just embrace the paranormal activity and grab a growler of Sixpoint’s special Mad Scientist Series #12 blend, Gozer the Gozarian, and make a peace offering to your invisible roomies. Just be careful not to cross the streams.
Follow Rachel on more ghost hunting adventures @RaeinBk