Paranormal Broketivity: The 10 most haunted sites in Brooklyn


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 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. 

Did gut renovations purge the lingering souls at 455A Sackett Street?

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 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!

Do racist spirits remain at 169 Clinton Street?

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.

Do ghosts need air conditioning?

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:

Inside the future Civil War ghosts employment hub. Photo via The Kingson Lounge.

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.

Doomed to swim for all eternity. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

A haunting in the produce aisle. Photo by Barry Yanowitz.

Whole Foods: The grocery giant was 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.

Beach ghosts totally live in there.

Neponsit Health CenterTechnically 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. Atlas Obscura covered the spooky 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 that season of American Horror Story

Home to South Brooklyn’s mutant ghost population.

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.

If this place isn’t haunted, what came out of that hole?

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.

Here lies the ghosts of hipsters past.

Barcade: Legend has it that the popular Williamsburg arcade bar sits atop a burial ground that was once packed with 30,000+ corpses! Gives a whole new urgency to a game of Ms. Pacman.

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


  1. Freya

    My husband & I rented a beautiful apartment in Bay Ridge a few years ago but it was the most haunted places I’d ever experienced & it turned my skeptic husband into a believer. First off, this was a 3 bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor of a 2 family house between 3rd & 4th avenue, a few blocks from 86th street. When we were apartment shopping we were originally looking for a 2 bedroom & the rents were between $1500 & $2100. This 3 bedroom, 2 full bathroom, with 2 fire places, a formal dining room & huge terrace with views of the Verrazano bridge was only $1600 a month & was fully renovated before we moved in. The day we were shown the apartment, for the first time, neither the real estate guy or the landlord’s daughter would come inside with us. They stayed out on the stoop. When we walked in we couldn’t believe how beautiful the place was. It was huge & the location, & the view, were specacular. We couldn’t believe our luck! Upon our first viewing, hubby & I were each in different parts of the place but I kept turning around thinking he, or someone, was behind me. It happened repeatedly but I brushed it off bc this apartment was just too good to be true. We moved in in February 2011 & the first thing we noticed was that there was a lot of mail for a lot of past tenants. Our downstairs neighbor came up to introduce himself & said “hopefully u guys stay longer than 6 months”. When I inquired about his statement he didn’t really give me an answer but he did say that the last tenant just picked up her kids & moved out after 6 months. A few months after we moved in our downstairs neighbor did the same as well as the family that moved in after he left. Things were ok for the first few months except for the fact that whenever I’d stay up to watch tv alone in the living room late at night I’d hear heavy, stomping footsteps upstairs. It took me a few weeks to realize that there was no upstairs, just the roof. We had just moved from an apartment building with neighbors above & below us so I was used to hearing noises upstairs but once I realized that what I was hearing was straight up crazy, my late night tv viewing all alone in the living room was over! My youngest son would insist on keeping the door from his room into the dining room closed at night bc he didn’t like the “white mist” he’d see floating around in the living room. The first weekend my kids came by to spend the weekend, the first thing my youngest said upon entering was “mom, is this place haunted?”. That was before anything really crazy started happening. Around July is when the st*t started hitting the fan. My husband, myself our cat & dog were outside on the spacious terrace enjoying a nice summer night when all of a sudden the cat & dog lost it! They ran inside barking, growling & hissing, fur standing up & tails all fluffy (this cat was incredibly laid back & up to this point we’d never seen him do this). They ran back & forth the length of the apartment when suddenly there was loud banging inside the kitchen cabinets. It sounded like there was a raccoon loose in there. LOUD! The banging continued from the kitchen into the first bathroom then all 3 bedroom doors slammed at once. After that the pets calmed down & we just brushed it off. The smallest bedroom was actually my husband’s office. He has a lot of expensive collectables, including a collection of swords & knives, so we kept that door locked from the outside with a padlock that he installed himself, high up so the kids couldn’t reach. The door was always kept locked at night whether the kids were home or not but a few mornings a week we’d wake up to one or two of his collectable knives right outside our bedroom door. There were many instances of my little dog growling at the end of the bed or the closet, terrified to the point of hiding behind me. Many times during winter I’d lock the cat out of my bedroom bc I’d have a space heater on & would shut the door to keep the heat in & the cat would want to go in & out repeatedly but after laying back down the door would mysteriously unlock & open on its own. This was even stranger due to the fact that we had carpeting & the bottom of the door would rub against the carpet, not opening or closing easily. Another night I had just fallen asleep while my husband stayed up reading. Tv was off with his bedside light on. He wakes me up in a panic telling “did u hear that? Did u just f*ckin hear that?” to which I said “what?” & he says “that man talking right at our bedroom door!”. He said it sounded like one side of a conversation but he couldn’t make out the words as they sounded jumbled but clear as a bell, right at our open bedroom door. A cab driver had told us that he had grown up in Bay Ridge & said that he knew our house was haunted. Before we even gave him our exact address (we gave him the street & said between 3rd & 4th ave. but not the house #) he was asking questions like “is your house the one that’s always dark in front even though there’s 2 lights outside? People don’t live there for long?” etc etc. We said yes & he said “u live in the haunted house! Watch. Don’t give me the address & I’ll pull right up to the front.”. Sure enough, he did just that. The one thing that really got to me was that on some nights, if I had to use the bathroom or go to the kitchen late at night, i felt like I was being chased & I would actually run back to the bedroom. A 30-something year old woman running from something unseen in her own home? Crazy! I would actually be deathly afraid. Luckily this didn’t happen every night but some nights I really felt like I was in danger. It felt like it was coming from the corner of the living room. I just sensed something there. After 2 years of living there we didn’t renew the lease & we moved out. It was a beautiful apartment but instead on a stack of bibles that everything I wrote is 100% true & really happened …

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