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The Octago, The Dakota, and 55 Central Park West The Octago, The Dakota, and 55 Central Park West
Many horror movies begin with the premise of an individual or family unwittingly moving into a haunted house, but such scenarios are highly unlikely to play out in New York. State law requires that if a seller has previously made claims about a property having supernatural activity (e.g., been part of a ghost tour or applied to be on a paranormal television show), they are obligated to inform buyers. However, if a seller only knows that someone had previously died in the house or has suspicions of ghostly activity, they do not have to disclose this information.

Finally, such movies don’t take New Yorkers’ intrepidity into account. They know that the city’s history contains scary, even grisly stories, and that some of them are associated with the city’s most prestigious addresses. What’s more, it would appear that some embrace the idea of a building where terrifying things have happened either onscreen or in real life: A closer look at the city’s most famous residential buildings with spooky reputations revealed few availabilities.

Architect: Henry J. Hardenbergh | Built in 1882

Neighborhood: Central Park West

93 Units | 10 Floors

The-Dakota-Central-Park03 The Dakota (Douglas Elliman)
It's perhaps the city's most legendary apartment building, and you'd think that between Rosemary's Baby (which was used for exterior shots of the fictional Bramford), John Lennon's murder and a host of reported ghost sightings throughout the years, this massive, fortress-like co-op building with apartments as big as its reputation would scare people off. But it's still one of the most coveted residences in the city.

The Dakota, 1 West 72nd Street The Dakota, #45 (Douglas Elliman)
Entrance foyer with woodwork
From the listing:
Welcome to an exquisite blend of classic elegance and modern luxury in the legendary Dakota. This exceptional 2-bedroom with a library or third bedroom, den, 2-bathrooms, formal dining room, and eat in kitchen offers a lifestyle of sophistication in one of the most iconic addresses in the world. This home has wonderful historic character including soaring 13-foot ceilings, beautiful paneling and doors, stunning floors, classic moldings and wainscoting. See floor plan and full details here.

Architect: Charles Coolidge Haight | Built in 1887

Neighborhood: Central Park West

99 Condos | 25 Floors

455-Central Park West-03 Image courtesy of RKTB Architects
Among the neighborhood's surrounding townhouses and historic co-op buildings, the stunning architectural anomaly that is the "castle" at 455 Central Park West has a dark medical history as New York’s first cancer hospital. Built in 1887, when cancer treatment was somewhat of an oxymoron, the castle had a crematorium and a smokestack at the back that was often in use. The hospital closed in 1955, but it wasn't until a redevelopment plan took off in 2000 that it welcomed more fortunate residents at a luxury condo development.

455 Central Park West 455 Central Park West, #22C (Brown Harris Stevens)
Central Park West condos
Upper West Side condos with Central Park views
From the listing:
The gracious and airy layout offers an elegant formal entry foyer to this 2,159-square-foot home. The fabulous sized living room leads to the 241-square-foot terrace with sweeping and iconic Central Park and skyline views; a blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication. The adjacent west-facing dining room which can easily be converted to a fourth bedroom/office flows seamlessly to the windowed eat-in kitchen replete with granite counters, stainless appliances, and custom cabinetry. See floor plan and full details here.

Architect: Schwartz & Gross | Built in 1930

Neighborhood: Central Park West

109 Condos | 20 Floors

55-Central-Park-West-03 A spookier 55 Central Park West shown in 1984 movie Ghostbusters
55 Central Park West is a 19-floor co-op on the Upper West Side popularized by the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Its Gothic-like Art Deco stylings made the perfect fit (in addition to some CGI which increased its height and scare-factor) to play the central haunted high-rise in the film. The building is sometimes colloquially known as Spook Central or the Shandor Building, the fictional name it's given in the film. Quite lovely in person, the landmarked building was designed by the architectural firm Schwartz & Gross and finished in 1929. Its exterior brickwork transitions from a dark tone to a more yellow tone thought to make it seem as if the sun were always shining on the building. Not spooky at all.

55-Central-Park-West Its view of the super-skinny supertalls on Billionaires' Row could be unsettling to some..
55-Central-Park-West 55 Central Park West, #12B (Douglas Elliman)
Central Park West co-ops
From the listing:
Located in the heart of the Upper West Side a short walk from Lincoln Center, this sizable one-bedroom, one-bathroom home boasts an abundance of natural light. High beamed ceilings, oversized windows, arched entryways, crown moldings and a sunken living room create a sense of spaciousness and grandeur while beautiful herringbone floors lend a touch of classic sophistication. See floor plan and full details here.

Architect: Horace Trumbauer | Built in 1904

Neighborhood: Upper East Side Gold Coast

12 Condos | 6 Floors

1-East-62nd-Street-01 The Spencer (Sotheby's International Realty)
Joan Rivers moved to her Upper East Side apartment following the death of her husband, but she wasn’t always there alone: In an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, she shared the story of how she brought in a professional to help her deal with “Mrs. Spencer,” the ghost of a former resident thought to be a niece of J.P. Morgan. Mrs. Spencer apparently messed with her electrical appliances; however, once Ms. Rivers hung an old portrait of Mrs. Spencer in the building’s lobby, the haunting stopped.

Architect: J.G. Glover | Built in 1851

Neighborhood: Clinton Hill

25 Condos | 5 Floors

320-Washington-Avenue-01 All images of Graham Condo via Compass
To hear “The Graham Home for Old Ladies,” as 320 Washington Avenue was known from 1899 to the early 1960’s, one imagines a genteel atmosphere behind its Romanesque Revival facade. However, it wasn’t all tea parties and knitting circles: In 1887, a nurse resigned after accusing a matron and another nurse of abusing the residents. Several others weighed in, and one doctor even said that “old people are worse than children.” No evidence of abuse was found and the incident faded away, but neighborhood children would refer to it as “the spooky building” in the years before it was converted to a luxury condominium. The interiors bear little resemblance to the olden days, but the exterior and grounds have been restored to their former glory.

Architect unknown | Built in 1843

Neighborhood: West Village

1 Unit | 4 Floors

267-West-11th-Street-01 267 West 11th Street (CityRealty)
Last fall, 267 West 11th Street sold for $23,000,000 in an off-market deal. The buyer was not identified, nor is it clear whether they knew about the house’s history: In 1893, well-known madam Annie Sutherland died suddenly in the basement apartment she kept in the Greek Revival mansion. Her ex-husband was found to have poisoned her with belladonna, and was sentenced to death by electrocution.

Architect: Alexander Jackson Davis | Built in 1881

Neighborhood: Roosevelt Island

500 Rentals | 13 Floors

The Octagon, 888 Main Street The Octagon, 888 Main Street. Image via Bozzuto Management Company
NYC's Spookiest Buildings NYC's Spookiest Buildings (
One of the city's greatest landmarks, the Octagon was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis in 1841 to anchor of the New York Pauper Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. The institution's patients were moved to Ward's Island in 1893, and the buildings eventually fell into terrible disrepair and were destroyed by a fire. That island is now Roosevelt Island, and the former insane asylum site hosts a luxury rental building with crazy amenities like a concierge, a pool, a gym, parking, two kids' playrooms, daycare, a movie room, a lounge and free shuttle buses to transit.

The-Octagon-Leasing The Octagon Leasing (
The Octagon-Apartments-03 Yea, we know. New York has gone soft. (Credit: The Octagon Leasing)
From the listing:
The oasis at The Octagon of creature comforts and limitless opportunity on Roosevelt Island have been carefully curated to strike in harmony; serve and delight all the parts that make you you. Committed to wellness and tranquility with the renovation of all our amenities and apartments that embody seamless living. In a place where the greatest city on Earth shines bright in the distance of a breathtaking waterfront, while really only being moments away. Inspired by your quest to have it all, we invite you to experience this sanctuary on Roosevelt Island. See floor plan and full details here.

More NYC buildings with a spooky rep

30-Morningside Drive 30 Morningside Drive is a partial rental conversion of St. Luke's Hospital's historic buildings

30 Morningside Drive

One-beds from $4,505/mo
Two-beds from $5,814/mo
Three-beds from $5,950/mo

The Parkside Brooklyn
125 Parkside Avenue

Studios from $2,500/mo
One-beds from $3,375/mo
Two-beds from $4,900/mo

30-Morningside-Drive-01 Image via Del Shah Capital
125-Parkside-Avenue-01 The Parkside via Ray Builders
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