Hauntings of the Bowery Hotel, NYC

The Bowery has a past. Although the revitalized Lower East Side of New York City now boasts restaurants, art galleries, and museums, it was once a notorious delta of vice, poverty, and crime.  It was home to some of the city’s poorest residents, and to some of the city’s shadiest establishments and most dangerous gangs.

In the 19th and early 20th century, the area was known for cheap entertainment, brothels, flophouses, and gang warfare such as Martin Scorsese depicted in the blockbuster “Gangs of New York”. With such a turbulent past, it is no wonder that some believe ghosts make their presence known in some of the neighborhood’s oldest sites. One of them is the Bowery Hotel, a stylish and modern destination in the heart of haunted territory.

Bowery Hotel History

The upscale hotel now residing at the Southeast Corner of Bowery and East Third Street, in the Bowery State and National Register of Historic Places district, was not the original building to occupy the spot. The original edifice was the Dry Dock Savings Bank, designed by Czech architect Leopold Eidlitz in 1875.

Eidlitz built the bank building in the Ruskinian Gothic style, inspired by his native city, Prague. The touch of grandeur was somewhat wasted on the bank’s environs, as it found itself overshadowed by the 3rd Avenue el train, and surrounded by the sort of establishments of ill repute the Bowery was known for.

The area is still said to be haunted by some of its more unfortunate residents, who met untimely ends because of the neighborhood’s violence and crime. One of them was Annie Moore, a prostitute at a notorious Bowery brothel called suicide hall. Her grisly murder, in 1906, is still unsolved, and Moore’s spirit is said to roam the familiar streets of her life and demise. 

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The current hotel was built in 2002 and has a lot to recommend a traveler looking for an atmospheric, elegant building in a vibrant neighborhood. The fake factory building boasts penthouses on the top levels, a coveted event room that has witnessed its share of celebrity afterparties, a lobby turned out with dark wood paneling, exotic carpets, and antique armchairs, bathrooms with marble accents, and a popular upscale Italian restaurant called Gemma.

Florence + the Machine frontwoman Florence Welch had a wild night there with Lykke Li and Kanye West in 2012, and film icon Johnny Depp was also spotted there with his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. Celebrity sightings are not the only stories from the Bowery Hotel, however-it also has reports of paranormal activity. 

Ghosts of the Bowery

A poltergeist seems to be a permanent resident at the Bowery, and a particularly punctual one: the elevators at the Bowery Hotel are reported to go haywire and stop operating every night at 1 am.

A guest also reported having a drink knocked out of his hand, even though he was sitting in a room by himself.

Another guest of the hotel had an even nastier shock, checking in to find a ghostly woman dressed all in white sitting in his room.

Guests have also reported having conversations with individuals who appear to be other hotel visitors, who disappear in mid-sentence.

Haunted locations Near The Bowery Hotel

If this isn’t enough paranormal activity, the Bowery Hotel is centrally located for those seeking spectral echoes of the past. The Bowery Hotel is located near the supposedly haunted New York City Marble Cemetery.

New York City Marble Cemetery (0.2 miles from the Bowery Hotel)

The proximity of the Bowery Hotel to the cemetery has led to speculation that the cemetery’s ghosts also walk the hotel grounds. The cemetery was New York City’s first nonsectarian public cemetery and was built in 1830. Marble vaults were thought to be safer for burials than graves dug in the earth due to a yellow fever outbreak.

Contagious diseases and their stalking presence in the 19th century fed the cemetery’s internment rate, as many succumbed to diseases such as scarlet fever, whooping cough, and measles, and common infections for which we now have antibiotics. Many of the cemetery’s burials were children, and many others were adults that died of the great scourge of the time, tuberculosis, which took many lives up to the mid 20th century. 

The burials in the cemetery were mostly that of the city’s wealthier citizens, who later turned to more rural sites as their loved one’s final resting place. If the spirits of those whose lives were lost in the common and devastating outbreaks of diseases in their time period do linger, it seems that those who check into the Bowery Hotel just might encounter them during their stay. 

St Mark’s Church (0.4 miles from the Bowery Hotel)

St Mark’s Church is also nearby, the second oldest church in the city. Its resident ghost is a former prominent citizen of the state’s Dutch colonial origins, Peter Stuyvesant, the last director-general, who shaped much of Manhattan.

The neighborhood itself has Stuyvesant to thank for its name-Bowery comes from the Dutch word for farmstead, ‘bouwerij.’ The land upon which the church, and much of the neighborhood, stands was once Stuyvesant’s farmland which was established in 1651.

The church began as a family chapel on his land, built in 1660.  He is buried under the church, which is just eight minutes away from the Bowery, but perhaps he is not entirely pleased with the arrangement-the long gone bureaucrat is said to stomp and ring bells in the historic church, haunting his former home and chapel. 

Merchant’s House Museum (0.1 Miles from the Bowery)

Another stop just around the way is the Old Merchant House, on 29 East Fourth Street.  The house was built in 1832 and then sold to the family who came to define and preserve it, the Tredwells.

Although the neighborhood around Old Merchant House became less prosperous and seedier as time went on, the house was preserved in all its elegance by Gertrude Tredwell, who became known as an eccentric. Upon her death, the house passed to a cousin, who turned Old Merchant House into a museum.

Not only does it serve as a glimpse of life for the Bowery’s upper middle class during the mid-nineteenth century, but it is said to be haunted by the spirits of the Tredwell family, who lived there so happily for so long.

Those interested in touring the house-and perhaps running into one of its spectral residents-will want to act fast, as the historical building is sadly facing the threat of new development in the area. 

Visiting the Bowery Hotel, NYC

335 Bowery, East Village, New York, NY 10003, United States

Centrally located in a historic district whose seedy past has been paved over with glamour, the Bowery Hotel not only has its own ghosts to entice visitors seeking a paranormal encounter, but it is a good jumping-off point for a trek through the Bowery district in search of more lingering ghosts of New York City. 

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