There’s Evil in the East Village, Sorta

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McSorleys Old Ale House “allegedly haunted”, a stop on the East Village ghost tour. (Photo by Kai Kobori-Hotchkiss)

Ria Mittal, Contributing Writer

Let’s talk ghosts. More specifically, let’s talk about the ghosts whom we, as NYU students, should really be more concerned about. In order to know more about such ghosts, I found myself on an East Village Ghost Tour.

The East Village Ghost Tour is an approximately hour-and-a-half long walking tour around the East Village that covers many supposedly haunted spots —  a troubling amount of which are in or around our very own campus. The night we chose to go just happened to be a dark and stormy one which made us all the more excited and terrified. However, our tour guide, Mary, kept us at ease with her wit.

“She seemed so rational, intelligent and funny. It made me wonder if believing in ghosts isn’t as crazy as it sounds if someone like her does,” said an elderly Australian woman who joined us on the tour and was shocked at how casual Mary was.

The tour started off at our very own Washington Square Park —  which used to be a burial ground and currently holds hundreds of diseased corpses under it. Mary pointed out one particular tree on the northwest corner of the park that used to be a hanging tree. Men were shipped in on Sundays to be hung from it and apparently, people still see the shadows of those hanged men in the early morning or whenever lightning flashes near the tree.

“It was equal parts great and creepy to find out that, while cutting through the park for an early Lipton breakfast or during a stormy evening, we might possibly bump into the ghost of an 18th-century criminal,” CAS sophomore Mehhma Malhi said.

We then moved on to what was once Edgar Allan Poe’s home but is now just another NYU building. We got to hear a lot about Poe and his cats on that stop, but what really grabbed our attention was the haunted firehouse right across the street from it. Not only does it still have its original facade and interiors but it’s actually now owned by Anderson Cooper. We were then redirected to the arch, where we learned that, apparently, 101 years ago a group of six artists broke into the arch through the spiral staircase in its left leg and threw a full-blown rager on the roof of the arch. At this point, this ghost tour through the villages was less ghost facts and more historical fun facts about dead people, and we sure got some fun facts about the arch.

The tour took a solemn turn as we approached the Silver Center, which used to be the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that killed 145 young women who were working when the infamous fire broke out. As Mary said, “Though the building was fire insured, the women inside were not,” and the spirits of those young women are thought to haunt the building, unlocking doors and making sure no one is ever trapped inside there again. Katrina Ramazan, a sophomore at Steinhardt studying Math Education and American Sign Language, recalled something along those lines as well, “One morning in lab, our TA walked in to us waiting for him in the classroom and asked us how we got in, cause the doors were supposed to be locked. We didn’t really care then but now I don’t know anymore.”

The next few stops were pretty uneventful —  a haunted merchant house and bar — but our last stop was an actual cemetery. We literally ended our tour in a graveyard that was known for being broken into and grave-robbed. All in all, the tour wasn’t as spooky as it was informational, but it was definitely a good time. CAS junior, Sonali Mathur said “I was expecting it to be a lot scarier. It was more historical and interesting than actually scary but I still enjoyed myself.” It was an unusual Friday night, but mostly because I got to do something in New York City for free.