The 13 Most Haunting Abandoned Spots In NYC

Photographed by Will Ellis.
Halloween in New York City can be scary for all the wrong reasons. If hordes of inebriates in costume and over-the-top "haunted attractions" aren't your cup of tea, know that there are still a few places left in the city where the true spirit of the season is alive and well. In fact, eerie, atmospheric ruins are tucked away in the less-traveled corners of all five boroughs.
As a year-round explorer of the dark and dilapidated, I've rounded up 13 of the city's most haunting (and abandoned) places, including a few you can actually see for yourself — without risking a trespassing charge.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The New York State Pavilion
You may remember these space-age observation towers reimagined as flying saucers in the first Men in Black film, but they were originally created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens is covered with remnants of the event and its 1939 predecessor, most notably the iconic "Unisphere."

Unfortunately, the towers haven't fared so well, though a preservationist movement to restore the landmarks has been gaining steam in recent years. For now, you can stop by the park to see these out-of-this-world structures in all their decaying glory.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The Arthur Kill Boat Graveyard
Century-old vestiges of New York City's shipping era lie rotting in the Arthur Kill Boat Graveyard in Rossville, Staten Island. Beginning in the 1930s, the salvage yard became the final resting place for hundreds of disused vessels from the waterways of New York and New Jersey.

Though it's officially closed to the public, you can get a good look at some of the site's most picturesque wrecks by following a short path through the historic Sleight Family Graveyard off Arthur Kill Road, where tombstones date back to colonial times.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery isn't abandoned at all — in fact it's exceptionally well-cared for. But things really get creepy inside the mausoleums and catacombs. They're occasionally opened to the public for tours, but a leisurely stroll through the grounds is a chilling enough pastime on a brisk autumn day.

As the final resting place of the wealthiest denizens of New York's gilded age, the place is brimming with gorgeous, macabre statuary dating back to the 19th century.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
Fort Totten
This ex-military base lies in an odd state of limbo on the northeast tip of Queens — it's part public park, part active training facility, and home to dozens of mouldering historic buildings and defense structures. Raccoons have taken up residence in the semi-collapsed Post Hospital, which I wouldn't advise even the most foolhardy explorer to enter.

But, for a less risky adventure, check out the unfinished Civil War water battery, which is open for guided and self-guided walking tours on weekends.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
Fort Wadsworth
Another piece of New York’s military legacy rests just under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the oft-overlooked borough of Staten Island. Fort Wadsworth's historic Battery Weed is only open by tours, but you'll find loads of ruined fortifications scattered throughout the grounds from every era of the city's military defense system.

One of the most intriguing is a 19th-century granite battery that was completely forgotten underground until an entrance was unearthed by Hurricane Sandy. Its subterranean rooms are mostly filled with dirt and debris, but a thriving population of spider crickets has made a home of its innermost chamber.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The Freedom Tunnel
The "mole people" might sound like something from an urban legend, but their story is far from false. The train tunnels under Riverside Park were home to a massive squatter colony during the 1980s, until Amtrak reactivated the line in the '90s and had the residents evicted.

Today, the tunnel remains a mecca for graffiti artists and urban explorers. It’s especially magical when the sun is shining above ground and dramatic rays of light illuminate its three-mile entirety.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
Machpelah Cemetery, Houdini's Grave
Sadly, Machpelah Cemetery's creepy abandoned office was demolished in 2013, but just through the front gate, you can still find the final resting place of Harry Houdini, who died on Halloween. For years after his death, Harry's wife, Bess, held a seance every October 31 hoping to hear from him from beyond the grave.

The typically deserted cemetery always draws a crowd on Halloween night, where fans of the great magician come to pay their respects and try their luck at contacting his spirit.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The Samuel R. Smith Infirmary
Prior to its demolition in 2012, the old Samuel R. Smith Infirmary in Staten Island was one of the borough's greatest architectural treasures. Forty years of neglect, however, had transformed this historic structure into the quintessential haunted house; it's hard to imagine it was once a flourishing hospital for the underprivileged. Locals called it the "Staten Island Castle."

Rest in Pieces, Smith Infirmary.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The Red Hook Grain Terminal
On foggy mornings, nothing can rival the spectral allure of the Red Hook Grain Terminal. The hulking structure was completed in 1922 to boost the state's grain trade, but it soon became obsolete and was emptied of its last bushel in 1965. It’s since become one of the most atmospheric ruins in the city — both Lorde and David Bowie recently shot a couple of moody music videos here.

The ghostly exterior is best viewed from the end of the Henry Street Basin while feasting on pupusas from the Red Hook Ball Fields’ famed food trucks.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
P.S. 186
This 120-year-old Harlem school shuttered amid scandal in the 1970s and has been left to rot ever since. Today, the interiors are more sepulchral than scholastic, though they come to life in the warmer months with saplings and shrubbery sprouting up from the floors of decaying auditoriums, grand staircases, and crumbling classrooms.

P.S. 186 is certainly one of the most beautiful abandoned places in New York, but not for much longer. It’s currently being renovated into affordable housing by the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
The Staten Island Farm Colony
Adored by paintballers and thrill-seeking Staten Island teenagers, the Farm Colony is easily one of the city’s most accessible ruins, and it’s also one of its largest concentrations of derelict structures. About a dozen buildings remain in varying states of decay from its days as a city-run institution for the poor.

Though most of the scary stories you hear about this place don’t hold water — think serial killers, satanic rituals, and the like — the ruins of the Farm Colony are still an undeniably eerie sight to behold.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
Creedmoor State Hospital, Building 25
Real-life horrors from the age of institutionalization still haunt the halls of Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens Village; charges of abuse and neglect plagued the psychiatric center as late as the 1980s. Though part of the campus still operates today and many buildings have been converted to new uses, Building 25 has sat abandoned for close to four decades.

Things get positively surreal on the building's top floor, where a population of pigeons has built up an incredible amount of droppings, to a stomach-turning — yet oddly beautiful — effect.
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Photographed by Will Ellis.
North Brother Island
Surely you've heard of the "abandoned island in the middle of New York" by now — this place easily tops the list as the creepiest place in the city. Located just a stone's throw from LaGuardia and the Rikers Island Prison Complex, North Brother Island lies completely uninhabited, covered with overgrowth and a complex of ruined buildings that was once known as Riverside Hospital.

The campus was once a quarantine station for contagious diseases, and is well known as the home of the infamous Typhoid Mary. On June 15th, 1904, the island was the site of the deadliest marine disaster in New York City history when the passenger ship General Slocum capsized off its shores.

After half a century of abandonment, North Brother Island has become an important habitat for migratory birds. It's currently designated as a wildlife sanctuary by the Parks Department, and public access is strictly prohibited.
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