Ghosthunting New York City

Ghosthunting New York City

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by L'Aura Hladik
     
 

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On this leg of the journey, readers will explore the scariest spots in the Big Apple. Author L'Aura Hladik visits more than 30 legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public so visitors can test their own ghosthunting skills, if they dare. Join L'Aura as she visits each site, snooping around eerie rooms and dark corners, talking to people who swear to… See more details below

Overview

On this leg of the journey, readers will explore the scariest spots in the Big Apple. Author L'Aura Hladik visits more than 30 legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public so visitors can test their own ghosthunting skills, if they dare. Join L'Aura as she visits each site, snooping around eerie rooms and dark corners, talking to people who swear to their paranormal experiences, and providing a firsthand account. Readers may enjoy Ghosthunting New York City from the safety of an armchair or by hitting the road and using the maps to find 50 more spooky sites and "ghostly resources." Take the A(HRT) Train to the spookiest subway ride of your life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578604494
Publisher:
Clerisy Press
Publication date:
09/29/2010
Series:
America's Haunted Road Trip
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
9 MB

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Ghosthunting New York City, by L’Aura Hladik

Chapter 1

Sailors Snug Harbor

Walking through the gardens, relaxing in the gazebo or meditating while meandering through the pond area, one would hardly suspect the frightening qualities inherent in this Monet-come-to-life tranquility. According to the website, snug-harbor.org, “Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, a distinguished Smithsonian Affiliate, is Staten Island's premier destination for culture and entertainment. Set within a stunning 83-acre park-like setting, Snug Harbor presents a unique blend of gardens, museums, theaters, educational opportunities, and seasonal festivals.”

In 1801, wealthy Robert Randall, son of a merchant seaman, provided in his will for a safe haven where "aged, decrepit and worn-out" seamen could retire. His 140-acre farm became that haven in 1833 with the building of a hospital and home on the property for retired seamen of any nation. The rule of occupancy was simply that the retired sailors had to attend prayer services, say grace before every meal, maintain sobriety and be in bed by 9:00 p.m.

From 1867 to 1884, Captain Thomas Melville, brother of Moby Dick author Herman Melville, was governor at Sailor’s Snug Harbor. By 1900, there were approximately 1,000 retired sailors living there. It was the ideal place for them, as it was self-sufficient with its theater, churches, farmland, and, best of all, its proximity to the water, a comforting sight for the “old salts.” As time passed, the population diminished and the remaining 110 sailors were relocated to Sea Level, North Carolina, in 1976, when the City of New York took possession of the property.

I visited Snug Harbor in May 2009. It was a clear evening, warm, but not muggy. Brian Backstrom, a security guard who has worked at Snug Harbor for the past eleven years, guided me through the various buildings. This young man not only had his own paranormal experiences while working here but a wealth of historical information as well.

We started at the Music Hall. Brian told me that this theater was the second oldest in New York City, “the first being Carnegie Hall.” We entered the theater and, per my request, Brian kept the lights off. I used my camcorder in “night shot” mode to record in zero light for any potential paranormal anomalies. Additionally, I used a thermal scanner to check for temperature drops, and I took pictures with my Nikon digital camera.

I followed Brian down the main aisle to arrive in front of the stage. Rumor has it that a man committed suicide backstage by climbing the catwalks above the stage and using the rope of the pulleys to hang himself. It was one of those unrequited love tales. Supposedly, a retired sailor fell in love with Mrs. Randall, but realizing he could not have her, ended his life. Brian said he could not confirm this story while researching it in the archives, which he had access to before they were transferred to Sea Level, North Carolina, for storage. The story is perpetuated, however, by various performing artists who claim to have seen a silhouetted shadow of a man dangling on the left stage wall.

Brian told me of his experience in the music hall back when he was employed as maintenance staff. “It was around 11:00 p.m. and I was vacuuming this area of the theater {stage left, rows 4-6} when I heard a crash behind me. I turned around and saw the light rigging had been pushed from the balcony it was attached to and slammed right into the floor. It missed hitting me by two rows!” Needless to say, he did not finish vacuuming that night.

I wandered backstage to take some recordings and photos. I didn’t capture anything paranormally suspicious.

From the Music Hall, we went over to Building K, called Matron’s House. The story that is attached to this building is disturbing. Brian said that at one time the Head Matron had adopted, or in a sense, enslaved, a local teenage boy who was mildly retarded. She kept him chained in the basement of the Matron’s House like an animal. One day, the boy managed to free himself from the chains and made his way to the main floor of the house. He grabbed a pair of sewing shears and proceeded to the third floor and the Head Matron’s bedroom. He stabbed her multiple times and fled towards Forrest Avenue. He was captured and brought back to Snug Harbor and hanged from the “hanging tree” which is in back of Building K.

The “hanging tree” is noted not only for its namesake purpose but for its ghastly spikes that grow around its trunk. Brian said that with all the storms they’ve had over the years, trees on the property have fallen or been struck by lightning. The “hanging tree” remains untouched.

While I did not capture any anomalies in pictures or video in the Matron’s house, I did have a battery drain on the camcorder in the Head Matron’s former bedroom on the third floor. Luckily, I had a fully charged spare to use, once we were outside the building.

After taking pictures of the Hanging Tree, we walked over to Building L. Brian told me of his experience in the fall of 2005 at that location. He and another park ranger were standing there, just as he and I were at that moment, engaged in conversation. It was approximately 11:00 p.m. and no one else was there with them. Suddenly, a bizarre creature darted between the two of them, heading toward Building L, and disappeared into the ground. Brian described this animal to be the size of a Labrador dog with the hindquarters of a rabbit and the head of a wild dog or “Hell Hound.” He said it made a high-pitched shriek as it vanished into the ground approximately twenty feet from where they stood.

Brian and the other park ranger did not discuss what they witnessed with each other. However, they both confided independently to their sergeant about the experience, and their details of the incident and the creature were identical.

We continued to the storm door entrance of the basement of Building K. Spiders and cockroaches the size of small puppies added to the subterranean ambiance as we made our way down the stairs and into the basement. Brian showed me the area where the mildly retarded boy was supposedly shackled to the wall. It wasn’t clear if the odd-shaped metal loops protruding from the wall were the remnants of shackles. I took several pictures with no apparent paranormal results, save for a dust orb. The temperature remained constant at 58 degrees according to my thermal scanner.

Climbing out of the basement, we made our way over to the Governor’s House. This is the beautiful, Victorian-styled building one sees upon driving into Snug Harbor. Brian pointed out the window on the second floor that had a vantage point of the harbor when the house was constructed. However, trees on the property now obscure this view. He said many reports over the years by visitors and park rangers have identified a ghostly white figure in this window. Possibly, the classic Lady in White resides eternally in the Governor’s House. Her identity is suspected to be that of the former Mrs. Robert Randall, but this identity is doubtful, since the house was built long after the Randalls lived there. Their son, Richard Randall, however, was a bachelor, and may have had a mistress or two in residence at the house.

Brian told me about the ghostly apparition of the woman in white. She has been seen coming out the front door and making her way around the side of the house to the path that leads down the road. It is suspected that she is making her way to the cemetery that is no longer in that location. In recent years, the cemetery has been relocated approximately two blocks away, according to Brian.

We made our way into Governor’s House via the front door. It appeared that the beautiful structure was now being used as a storage unit. There were various tables, folding chairs, and other equipment strewn about the two front rooms or parlors. I went up to the second floor to record for EVPs and noted the alarm going off in the background. Brian said that it was a motion sensor alarm and that it frequently went off, even when no one is in the house.

I went to the window where the Lady in White had been spotted. Thermal scanning remained constant with a temperature of 71.4 degrees Fahrenheit. No EVPs were collected and no anomalies were captured in digital still shots of this house.

Snug Harbor is a cultural center offering classes in dance, music and art. A dance class, in the same building as Brian’s office, ended as I made my way to my car. I joined the procession of cars to exit the property. Honestly, I was thankful for their company as the landscape had changed dramatically from the inviting, picturesque daylight venue when I arrived to a foreboding, somewhat menacing appearance in the night.

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