Tag Archives: Ghosthunting New York City

Times Square

Times SquareTimes Square draws people in this life and the afterlife

The most famous spot in New York City has to be Times Square. It’s appeared in countless movies, such as Big, I Am Legend, and Jerry McGuire. Certainly everyone recognizes it as the place to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. In fact, Web cams make it possible to view this legendary location from anywhere in the world all year long.

Times Square draws people from all over the globe, in this life and the afterlife. Case in point: Two Royal Air Force pilots who appeared mysteriously on the corner of 45th Street in Times Square during World War II. They asked Harvard graduate Oswald Reinsen, who was standing next to them on the corner, whether they were in Times Square. He confirmed their location, then began to cross the street. They followed him. Noticing the pilots’ uniforms and their English accents, Reinsen struck up a conversation with them. They told him how determined they were to visit Times Square. Reinsen noticed they kept a close eye on the time, checking their watches habitually every 10 minutes or so. After walking several blocks, Reinsen reached his destination, the Harvard Club. He invited the RAF men to join him, and they gladly accepted.

Times SquareThey enjoyed dinner and “spirited” conversation; all the while, the two RAF men kept checking the time on their watches. Just before midnight, they explained that it had been close to 24 hours since their planes had been shot down over Berlin. As they rose from their seats, they thanked Reinsen for the meal and proceeded toward the exit. Reinsen watched, dumbfounded, as they got lost in the crowd and vanished from view.

The story of a crisis apparition on Times Square

That story may be the most extensive and intense example ever of a crisis apparition. A typical crisis apparition occurs immediately after death. The newly deceased person, without the trappings of his corporeal being, “makes the rounds” by showing up to loved ones as a final farewell. Here’s how a crisis apparition works: You answer the doorbell, and there’s your Uncle Ted. You’re excited to see him and invite him in. Knowing how sick he’s been with cancer, you can’t believe how great he looks and that he is out and about. You make him comfortable on the couch and dash off to the kitchen to make him a cup of tea. All the while you’re chatting at 1,000 words a minute and not realizing Uncle Ted isn’t responding. You come back to the living room with his cup of tea, and he is gone. As you call out for him, the telephone rings. You answer the phone, and your Aunt Betty says that Uncle Ted just died.

Times Square1Most crisis apparitions appear as solid as you and I. Some may speak, but that’s rare. As an example of how solid they can appear, I know of a woman who bumped into the crisis apparition of her father.
She worked in New York City, and her demanding job had her rushing from one meeting to the next. While she was racing to pick up a sandwich and head to the next meeting, she was checking messages on her cell phone. Someone bumped into her, and when she looked up from her phone long enough to give the person a nasty look, she saw her father. He waved to her and vanished in the crowd. She wondered why her father was in New York City, but she continued to rush to her meeting, figuring she’d see him back at her office later. She had enough time to inhale her sandwich, shut off her cell phone, and sit down for the start of the meeting.

After the meeting, she checked her messages and heard a heartbreaking one from her mother that said, “Daddy had a heart attack. He’s dead. I need you to come home right away.” Once home, she learned that her father had died around the time she bumped into him on the street. He had come to New York to wave a final good-bye.

In her book Ghosthunting New York City, L’Aura Hladik visits more than 30 legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public—so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.

Kids and Ghosthunting

L’Aura Hladik Hoffman shares with us her view on Kids and Ghosthunting

L'Aura Hladik
L’Aura Hladik

As parents we strive to raise our children with good manners, good moral compasses and positive self-worth. As a ghost hunter, well, it gets a little trickier to raise a junior ghost hunter. Over the years, parents have approached me and inquired about bringing their child to one of our NJ Ghost Hunters Society’s monthly meetings or joining the organization so they could go on the cemetery hunts. My knee-jerk response was always, “no.” However, I would see the disappointment in the parents’ eyes and then inquire, “How old is your son/daughter? What’s their maturity level?”

Here’s the thing: children have a much brighter aura – the light body that surrounds the human body. “Newbie Ghosts” may mistake this bright aura as “the light” and follow it and unwittingly attach to it. Thus, little Johnny brings home a stray ghost from that jaunt in the cemetery.

On the flip-side, ghosthunting is a painless and enjoyable way for youngsters to learn History. Take a child to Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) and watch them glaze over with boredom while taking an auto-audio tour of the Battlefields. However, tell them to pay attention to the historical information for use on tonight’s ghost hunt of the same Battlefields, and witness the difference in their attention level.

It’s also a great way to develop a child’s scientific skills of research, documentation, and empirical testing. Any ghost hunter will be the first to admit that data review is the natural cure for insomnia; however, it is an integral part of the ghost hunting experience. Kids learn patience and develop their ability to see a project through to its completion simply because they’re so intent on hearing that Class A EVP from their audio recordings or spotting that full body apparition on their video recordings.

As for the best age to start your child ghost hunting, I say 11 or 12 years old – again depending on their maturity level. Metaphysically speaking, a child’s aura is “sealed” by age 7, meaning their Third Eye Chakra is closed down. The imaginary friends, who probably weren’t so imagined, have gone away by this age. I add in the four or five years to make sure they’re capable of handling the equipment safely.

About the author: L’Aura Hladik Hoffman is the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey and Ghosthunting New York City. She is also the Founder and Director of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society.

 

Laurel Grove Cemetery

Last week L’Aura Hladik shared with us her story about the White Lady of Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ. This week enjoy her tale about the second White Lady roaming the Garden State: Annie of Riverview Drive in Totowa.

The Laurel Grove Cemetery at Totowa’s Dead Man’s Curve

Laurel Grove Cemetery
The author with her son Trent in Laurel Grove Cemetery

The road runs between the Passaic River and Laurel Grove Cemetery and features a sharp bend in the road, affectionately called “Dead Man’s Curve,” where people say Annie was hit by a truck while walking home from the prom and dragged for fifty feet near the guardrail.

I first went to Laurel Grove Cemetery in 2000 as part of a New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society cemetery hunt. I had permission for our group to be in the cemetery. I can’t stress that enough to readers who want to jump in their cars and head out to a cemetery at midnight to get permission first. Even better, explore the area during the day, and then get permission from the caretaker or, if it’s a Catholic cemetery, monsignor. It’s also a good idea to check in with the local police department beforehand to apprise them of what you’ll be doing. If there are houses around the cemetery that you’re investigating, homeowners may call the police to report flashing lights and seeing vehicles and people in the cemetery after hours.

Our Totowa group was small and manageable. I reviewed the protocols for paranormal investigating while everyone signed the waiver sheet. We synchronized our watches and agreed to search for Annie’s grave and meet back at the front gate in one hour. A couple people came with me, and the others went off on their own. We covered a lot of ground within that hour. I remember taking one orb picture at a mausoleum. Other people captured some orb shots at various locations in the cemetery, but nothing stellar. EMF and temperature readings were normal. No one reported collecting any EVPs, and Annie’s grave eluded us.

After an hour we convened with the other part of the group, and I took attendance to make sure everyone was accounted for. One gentleman suggested we drive the length of Riverview Drive to see if Annie would appear. I agreed since our cars were all facing in that direction anyway. I knew the street would bend down to the right to follow the Passaic River, make a sharp turn and continue back out to the main road. I stressed to the team that we were only going to make the trip once. It was a residential area, and I didn’t want our caravan to be a nuisance.  We got in our cars and made our funeral-procession-paced drive down Riverview. As we were passing the cemetery on our right and the Passaic River on our left, I put my passenger window down and hung out a little to take pictures. I call this method “drive-by shooting.” I didn’t capture anything of a paranormal nature, but I have to say that it is a creepy road to drive along.

Once we were back on the main drag, we made the traditional stop at the first diner we saw. With digital cameras we were able to review and compare our cemetery hunt pictures over coffee and fries with melted mozzarella cheese and gravy. There were some interesting orb shots, but no full-body apparitions and certainly no Annie appearance. I asked whether anyone saw the blood-red paint on the guardrail that supposedly marks where Annie was hit and killed the night of her prom. Everyone admitted it was too dark to see any paint, if it was there. The eerie red paint is part of the legend that Annie’s father returns here on the eve of the anniversary of her death to repaint the guardrail.

A few months later, on a Sunday afternoon, my then-husband and I were in Totowa with our hearse, Baby, to attend a Cadillac car show at the Brogan Cadillac dealership. There were many classic Cadillacs, but ours was the only hearse. After the show, we headed for Riverview Drive and noticed some splattered red paint on the road, but did not see any on the guardrail. I figured this was the act of a teenager wanting to spook his girlfriend on their midnight ride home. Of course, I think we spooked the oncoming car even more as our twenty-two-foot-long hearse came around the corner of “Dead Man’s Curve.” In May 2008 I went up to Laurel Grove Cemetery to take a daytime picture of the entrance sign. Afterward, my sons and I hopped back in my car to make the drive down Riverview and look for the red paint on the guardrail. Sadly, the road was closed for construction. The site looked like an additional bridge was being built across the Passaic River. Oddly enough, this new bridge appears to start where Annie ended. Who knows? This may be the beginning of another legendary ghost-girl-on-the-bridge story.

L'Aura Hladik
L’Aura Hladik

About the author: L’Aura Hladik, is the author of Ghosthunting: New Jersey and Ghosthunting: New York City. L’Aura has been officially ghost hunting since 1993 and founded the NJ Ghost Hunters Society in 1998, which to date is the largest paranormal investigating organization in New Jersey.

As a paranormal investigator, L’Aura has stayed at the famously haunted Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, LA. Other ghost hunting explorations have taken her to Chicago, Savannah, and New Orleans. Internationally, she’s investigated several Irish haunted castles, most notably Leap Castle (County Offaly, Ireland).

 

Cherry Lane Theater

Ghosts perform at Cherry Lane Theater

Cherry Lane Theater
Cherry Lane Theater

This intimate theater, located at 38 Commerce Street, was the brainchild of Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1924. She formed an experimental theater group of local artists in the former brewery and box factory building, which dates back to 1836. Although there have never been any cherry trees along Commerce Street, the theater’s name fosters that notion. The reality is that Millay had named her group “The Cheery Lane Theater” to play on “Dreary Lane,” the nickname of the Drury Lane Theater in London. But a reporter misstated the name as “Cherry Lane,” and that’s what stuck.

Over the years there have been reports of ghosts “performing” at the theater. Sightings include a white mist that forms on the top step of the lobby staircase and a shadowy manifestation that hovers around the hallway outside the dressing rooms. Three former residents of the neighborhood—Aaron Burr, Washington Irving, and Thomas Paine have been suspected as the identity of these phantoms.

Possible ghostly addition to Cherry Lane Theater

Of course, a possible recent addition to the ghostly cast may be the spirit of Kim Hunter, the Oscar-winning actress best known for playing Stella in the stage and screen versions of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. In 1954, Hunter moved into an apartment above the Cherry Lane Theater with her husband, Robert Emmett. Kim’s career was derailed for a short time in the 1950s when she was blacklisted by McCarthy as a communist sympathizer. Hunter was no such thing. She was, however, according to her obituary in the New York Times, “feisty” and “occasionally profane,” with “no use for the trappings of Hollywood stardom that had always eluded her.” Hunter was quoted as saying: “The work itself has been my life. I was never in this for jazzy stardom, and as far as that’s concerned, I’ve never had it. Doesn’t matter to me.” Hunter’s husband died in 2000, and Kim Hunter died September 12, 2002. Maybe she was just too feisty for a final bow and stays active near the other love of her life, the stage at the Cherry Lane.

I spoke with Alex, the theater manager at the Cherry Lane, who has worked there for three and a half years. He said he has not experienced anything paranormal there even though he has been in the theater very late at night. He did say, though: “We like to think that the spirit of Edna (Millay) keeps an eye on the place.  I always say, ‘God morning, Edna,’ or ‘Good night, Edna.’ when coming or going.

Why not visit the Cherry Lane Theater? You can make a ghostly night out of it and have dinner and a show; the One If By Land, Two If By Sea restaurant (subject of another ghostly tale by L’Aura Hladik) is within walking distance.

About the author

L’Aura Hladik, author of Ghosthunting New York City also investigated Radio City Music Hall.  She is also the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey and the founder of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society.

Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery

Are there Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery?
Join Ghosthunting New York City author L’Aura Hladik on a tour

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx was founded in 1863. Its 400 acres are easily accessible from Manhattan via trains from Grand Central Station, as well as by car using the Major Deegan (I-87) or I-95. The intention behind the location was to have a peaceful place away from the downtown noise, but not too far away. The original design of the cemetery was based on the “rural cemetery movement” that originated in 1831 with Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. However, five years after the cemetery opened, its design was changed to a “landscape lawn plan,” which prohibited fences and encouraged central monuments with footstones. The cleaner, more spacious grounds made cemetery maintenance much easier. A few of the 300,000 people interred at Woodlawn are mentioned in this book—people such as the Van Cortlandts, Herman Melville, and Olive Thomas Pickford. Other famous people buried there include George M. Cohan, Fiorello Henry LaGuardia, Nellie Bly, Joseph Pulitzer, and Thomas Nast. For those of you who appreciate retail shopping, F.W. Woolworth, Roland H. Macy, and James Cash Penney are buried there, too.

Woodlawn offers many free events, such as concerts, walking and bus tours, theater performances, and a tree lighting during the holidays. It’s more than a cemetery; it’s a cultural resource for the Bronx. Photography is allowed in the cemetery as long as you stop by the office upon arrival, present a photo ID, and complete a simple form. I recommend you follow the formal steps in case you capture some amazing paranormal evidence and want to share it on your Web site or in a newspaper article. The cemetery grounds are open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the office, where photography permission is secured, is closed on Sundays.

Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery
Herman Melville Tomb

When I first visited Woodlawn, the ground was snow-covered and it was difficult to walk around; some of the drifts were more than three feet high. So I went back in early March of 2010 with Dina Chirico, my team leader at the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society. Dina is a great navigator, which helped tremendously; she read the map and directed me while I drove. The first grave I was determined to find was that of Herman Melville. What writer could refuse the chance to pay respects to one of the greats? I certainly couldn’t. According to the map, Melville’s grave was located in the Catalpa section of the cemetery. We drove over to it and parked.

Dina and I employed a “divide and conquer” strategy to find the grave: she started at one end of the section, and I went to the other. I had my digital audio recorder running the whole time I was searching. I noted on the recording the date, time, and weather; I also took some photos while searching. As I started up a small incline, I saw what appeared to be a baby’s grave. I said into my recorder, “a little . . . it looks like a little baby grave. Born January 2, 1871, died . . . I can’t make out the month . . . seventeenth of 1872.” When I reviewed the recording, right after I said, “looks like a little baby grave,” I heard the voice of a woman whisper, “Yeah.” I know it’s not my voice because I was speaking at a normal conversational volume, and the EVP interjects so closely after my previous word, it’s impossible that I could have said it. I know it’s not Dina’s voice, either; she was so far away from me at the time that she had to yell to ask if I had found Melville’s grave yet. I shut the recorder off so I could yell back to her that I hadn’t. I didn’t know I had captured an EVP until I got home and reviewed the recording.

Dina and I reconvened at my car and reviewed the map once more. She knew we were close to Melville’s grave, and she became even more determined to find it. We started out again, and Dina found it. Honestly, I was expecting a huge monument for someone like him, but it was a simple, modest headstone. Little rocks and trinkets left by previous visitors sat atop the headstone. There was also a handwritten note that said, “Thanks. You changed my life.” Dina and I waited quietly around Melville’s grave for a bit, recording for EVPs. Then we left to find LaGuardia’s grave.

Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery
Fiorello La Guardia Tomb

Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. He was a short, rotund man with a high-pitched voice, but full of fire and conviction. He did not like the shame and negative stereotypes the mob had brought to Italian culture. LaGuardia put it best when he said, “Let’s drive the bums out of town.” He had Lucky Luciano arrested, and he went after Frank Costello’s slot machines with a sledgehammer. It was a media event when the slot machines were dumped onto a barge to be taken away from New York City. Dina and I found LaGuardia’s grave much more easily than Melville’s. By then it was getting late, and we couldn’t hang around to conduct an EVP session. Dina took some pictures of the grave before we left the cemetery. Judging by how effortlessly I captured an EVP while walking around Woodlawn Cemetery, I am sure there are more to be found on a return trip. I wonder what Joseph Pulitzer, “father of journalism,” has to say these days.

Haunted Dakota

Haunted Dakota
Haunted Dakota

The Dakota is a famous apartment building where the rich and famous reside. The facade of the Dakota is a blend of German Gothic, French Renaissance, and English Victorian architectural styles.

It was the perfect backdrop of Roman Polanski’s 1968 thriller Rosemary’s Baby. Only the outside shots were filmed on location.  No filming is allowed inside as the Dakota has a strict policy protecting tenants’ privacy.

Haunted Dakota

However, no privacy policy is strong enough to keep the ghosts of the Dakota from appearing to tenants and their visitors.  Paula Santangelo was quoted in a New York Times article about her encounter: “In 1982, I was waiting for a friend in an apartment on the 10th floor. As I waited in the foyer, a little girl dressed in period clothing suddenly appeared, smiled at me and disappeared into an adjoining room, which was later pointed out to be a closet. Obviously an experience I will never forget!”

Over the years the little girl ghost has appeared to people in the building at various times. Usually people describe her as wearing a yellow taffeta dress and say that she stops bouncing her red ball long enough to tearfully say, “Today is my birthday.”  Supposedly, seeing this sad little ghost is a bad omen, usually foreshadowing the impending death of the witness.

The ghost of the building’s original owner and builder, Edward Clark, shows up occasionally. One time he reportedly shook his toupee violently at workmen in the basement of the building. Another time, he appeared ever so briefly to an electrician working in the basement. Later, when the electrician saw a picture of Edward Clark, he realized he had seen Clark’s ghost.

John and Yoko Ono Lennon move into haunted Dakota
Haunted Dakota
Strawberry Fields in Central Park

In 1975, John and Yoko Ono Lennon moved into the Dakota, purchasing an apartment formerly owned by actor Robert Ryan. Ryan’s wife Jessie, had died in the apartment, but was not about to relinquish her stay just because she was dead.

The Lennon’s knew early on that their apartment was haunted, and in 1979, they called in a psychic to conduct a seance. Mrs. Ryan came through and politely informed John and Yoko that she was not leaving the apartment.  John was open to spirituality and otherworldly topics, so he was comfortable coexisting with the spirit of Mrs. Ryan.

The most shocking and devastating event in the Dakota’s history happened on December 8th, 1980, when Mark David Chapman gunned down John Lennon. The debate rages on as to whether or not John Lennon haunts the Dakota.

In 1983, Joe Harrow, a musician, and Amanda Moores, a writer, both saw the ghost of John Lennon standing at the entrance of the Dakota. Over the years people have reported seeing John’s ghost around the Strawberry Fields memorial to John, located in Central Park.

Surely the most reliable and believable sighting of John Lennon’s ghost comes from his wife Yoko. She saw him seated at his piano in their apartment. He looked at her and said, “Don’t be afraid, I am still with you.”

Poltergeist activity at the Dakota includes elevators that start and stop for no apparent reason, and lights that turn themselves on or off. Trash bags have levitated, and several small fires have mysteriously started.

If you want to know more about the haunted Dakota

For more details about the haunted Dakota, Strawberry Fields and ghosts in Central Park read Ghosthunting New York by L’Aura Hladik, one of America’s most respected paranormal investigator.