We tried to stop it, but alas, we've got Halloween fever! An office discussion got us kicking around ideas on New York's most haunted buildings. Not the obvious ones, like Roosevelt Island's Smallpox Hospital ruins or the old Bellevue nuthouse?we're pretty sure ghosts actually inhabit those. We're talking more about the buildings that might just look scary, or mysterious, or mysteriously scary, or scarily mysterious. The ones people point out to each other as they pass by and say, "What the heck is going on in there?" We ended up with 11 and didn't have the heart?or guts?to cut one off the list, lest we risk an eternal curse. So this Top 10 has a plus one. Got other suggestions? Drop 'em in the comments.
11) The Bowery's Haunted Mansion
190 Bowery, Lower East Side
Spooky because: The massive old stone bank building at the corner of Spring Street has become a canvas for graffiti artists over the years, adding a menacing vibe to its colossal spookiness. Scariest of all? Even though it's looked abandoned for decades, the building is actually a 72-room "Bohemian dream house" purchased for just $102,000. The horror! Of that amazing deal not being ours!
10) Rat-Squirrel House
149 Kane Street, Cobble Hill
Spooky because: Where to begin? The creepy old lady who inhabits the place? The decrepit, broken-down state of the landmark? The fact that creatures seem to be running amok inside? How about this: When the building was finally raided by authorites, they found "mounds upon mounds of garbage." Yum!
360 Union Avenue, Williamsburg
Spooky because: In a neighborhood filled with suspect and empty new construction, this Robert Scarano work, aka the Prince of Darkness, is the equivalent of having a black cat cross your path.
8) Broken Angel
4 Downing Street, Clinton Hill
Spooky because: While the back story of the DIY house/folk art installation is really too much and too sad to get into, the uncertain fate of this neighborhood landmark has led to a lack of upkeep. Once a testament to one man's creativity. Now, just creepy. Like a place you'd dare an 11-year-old to go inside.
7) MacDougal Mystery Building
43 MacDougal Street, Soho
Spooky because: Long abandoned by ownership that is now being chased down by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to potentially face neglect charges, the three-story rowhouse is ruined inside and out. Vandals have been known to toss the occasional garbage can through its windows. Adds a certain panache.
6) Rector Square
225 Rector Place, Battery Park City
Spooky because: Completely normal on the outside, and yet totally terrifying on the inside. That's the scariest type of haunted house! This failed condo conversion of a big rental building is full of cracks, holes, unfinished walls and floors, missing ceilings and the miserable cries of the poor souls trapped inside. Like Augusten Burroughs!
5) Orchard Street Hell Building
Orchard Street btwn Houston and Stanton, Lower East Side
Spooky because: The longest-running stalled LES construction site has two faces of evil?the abandoned concrete shell seen on Orchard, and the pit view one block over on Ludlow Street. Surprisingly this hated neighborhood menace hasn't swallowed up the whole Lower East Side yet. Efforts to beautify the mutant creature have been laughable, but what's to come might be even more scary.
4) The Gowanus Whole Foods Survivor
360 Third Avenue, Gowanus
Spooky because: The fact that this decrepit landmark is surrounded by a massive piece of vacant land waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the development of a Whole Foods store gives it a haunted farm house feel. Even more terrifying at night! We would not be surprised to find out the walls occasionally bleed.
3) The Hole
Along South Conduit Avenue, Brooklyn/Queens border
Spooky because: Okay, so this is more of a haunted ghost town than one building in particular. It still sends shivers down our spine! The triangular wedge of land routinely floods, is home to several developments abandoned mid-construction, and has occasionally been used as a body dumping ground. The Hole really needs its own Rob Zombie film.
2) Admiral's Row
Along Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Spooky because: Yep, we cheated again, but Admiral's Row is facing the wrecking ball so we have to salute it while we can. The historic officers' homes have been left exposed to the elements for years, and the military connection adds an extra pinch of fright. The houses are off-limits, but it seems like people are always breaking in to get a look all the time. Feel like tempting fate?
1) Deutsche Bank Building
130 Liberty Street, Financial District
Spooky because: The most visible scar of 9/11 (besides the pit) has long taken on a cursed existence of its own. Tragic fires, demolition delays, screwing up the glamorous new neighbors, etc. Years spent wrapped in funeral shrouds haven't done much to boost Lower Manhattan's morale, or improve the skyline. Will it actually come down in 2010? That's for the spirits to decide. Mwa ha ha!