New York’s haunted places

Manhattan is known to be one haunted island. There will always be spots here where spirits are said to roam or appear like quick-vanishing shadows.

Some people, for example, love to share Central Park “sightings” of John Lennon hovering around Strawberry Fields or The Dakota where he was shot and killed 31 years ago. Or Samuel Clemen – aka the iconic anti-imperialist author Mark Twain – whose last known address before he died was 14 West 10th near Fifth Avenue.

“Some people say they’d seen him at the bottom of the stairwell sometimes,” history professor and ghost tours organizer Dr. Phil Schoenberg said in a video interview. Ghost tours are popular among locals and tourists.

The Empire State Building is more than just a favorite trysting spot for Hollywood’s star-crossed romantics. Suicides have been reported here, hence the building has acquired a haunted reputation.

Washington Square Park, a burial ground for up to 20,000 people during the American Revolution, abound with ghost stories of beatnik artists who populated the park or students of nearby NYU who committed suicide.

Our own Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue, is a rich mine of stories of unexplained occurrences, stories swapped while guests idle by waiting for an event to start or a passport to be issued. The on again-off again lighting, the sounds of footsteps on empty floors, humming to radio music. Some swear they’ve experienced one of these.

A frequent visitor told The FilAm how she got spooked out of her wits inside the ladies room. The light went out – then came back on. It could just be a quick power trip, but a whiff of cold air seemed to float by.

“I ran out the room as fast as I could,” she said. “I did not scream, there was an event.”

The employees who heard the story just shrugged their shoulders like they’ve heard such tales before. There’s the cleaning lady whose Hoover vac kept getting unplugged as she was sprucing up for the next day’s town hall meeting. She thought it was just the plug with a loose connection, but it wasn’t.

Is the Philippine Center, like most pre-war landmarks, haunted? The six-storey building became Philippine property in 1973, a year after Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and became a world-famous dictator. It is now home to the Consulate General’s office, the Philippine Mission to the UN and the Trade Representative’s office. Before that, the building has been known to house a variety of commercial establishments from banks to shops to restaurants. Urban legend passed on that it was the scene of a shooting where one bar patron died.

“That’s why when I enter an empty room, I say quietly, ‘Excuse me po, makikiraan po.’ And then I pray,” said an employee. — By Cristina DC Pastor


  1. Julian wrote:

    Interesting! Who woulda thought our own consulate. Oh well, there’s ghosts everywhere.

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