America's Spookiest Cities
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This Southern city's beautiful historic architecture is home to haunts and spirits, if you believe the tales. Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, is said to haunt the Dock Street Theater (pictured), where he once performed as an actor. A Civil War soldier tries to take a bullet out of another soldier at the Boone Hall Plantation, and The Battery Carriage House boasts a male ghost who hops into female guests' beds.
Just south of Charleston, Savannah is another historic Southern seaport town with a haunted history. The Mercer House (pictured) is haunted by Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute killed by Jim Williams in the house, as immortalized in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Marshall House, a historic hotel that served as a hospital during the Civil War, is known for sightings of ghosts in the hallways.
New Orleans, La.
With a history of slavery, voodoo and criminals in its past, New Orleans is known as one of America's most haunted cities. The LaLaurie house is haunted by tortured slaves, while the Le Pavilion Hotel has a cheerier ghost in the form of a 1920s gentleman who likes to play pranks on the cleaning staff. At the St. Louis Cemetery, visitors can ask the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, a favor by knocking on her crypt three times and leaving her a gift.
St. Augustine, Fla.
The nation's oldest city has long been known as a place of paranormal activity. Three of its forts — Castillo de San Marcos (pictured), Fort Mose and Fort Matanzas — are popular places to capture shadows and misty apparitions on video, including sightings of a soldier dressed in Spanish-era clothes. A former caretaker and two children roam the spiral staircase at the St. Augustine lighthouse, and the Old Jail is alive with barking dogs, chains and the humming of ghostly prisoners.
Haunted by the 19 "witches" who were put to death in 1692 and 1693 in the famous Salem Witch Trials, Salem is a popular tourist destination for those interested in all things ghostly. Several of the "witches" are said to haunt Gallows Hills, where they were hanged, while others float about other places in town. One can't-miss historic site: the House of the Seven Gables (pictured), built in 1668 and the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name.
San Antonio, Texas
Known for celebrity ghosts as well as unknowns like the Lady in Blue at the Menger Hotel, San Antonio has plenty of stories to add spice to a visit. The Alamo (pictured), site of a bloody standoff in the famous battle between Texas and Mexico, harbors the ghosts of heroes, along with the wailing notes of Davy Crockett's fiddle. Indian chief Geronimo haunts the Bullis House Inn, and Mission San Jose, a beautiful Catholic mission founded in 1720, is filled with the apparitions of friars past.
The Windy City is a gangster's graveyard, where bodies were often dumped into the Chicago River. The river was also the site of the 1915 Eastland disaster, when 844 passengers were killed when the ship rolled over. Some of them now haunt the area between the Clark Street and LaSalle Bridges. Chicago is also home to a "vanishing hitchhiker," also known as "Resurrection Mary," a girl in a party dress who was killed by a car on Archer Avenue in the 1930s.
From Confederate General Robert E. Lee to numerous sightings of some of the 51,000 soldiers who died at one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, Gettysburg is teeming with ghostly encounters. Many of the city's historic inns are thought to be haunted, as well as Gettysburg College, once the site of a Civil War field hospital. Take plenty of pictures if you visit, because these spirited soldiers sometimes show up in photos.
A small island just off of the Houston mainland, Galveston was struck by a hurricane in 1900 that killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and was recorded as the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. Today, ghosts from the disaster are seen all over the island, particularly in The Strand (pictured), a historic district now known for its shopping and restaurants.
San Francisco, Calif.
Alcatraz (pictured) is the best-known haunt of San Francisco, its former prisoners talking to each other and rattling chains. But inside the city proper are a number of ghostly apparitions, including Senator Broderick, shot in a duel in the Haskell House in 1859 near Fisherman's Wharf, and the San Francisco Art Institute, built on a cemetery and now inhabited by spirits who keep tabs on students in the watchtower.