Haunted New York
by Laura Kusnyer, 10/26/2010
Photo: Alexander Thompson
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
131 E. 10th St., 212-674-6377, East Village, Manhattan
Did you know that the Bowery, a street in Manhattan, was named after the 17th-century Dutch word for farm (bouwerij)? That linguistic ghost relates to the story of Peter Stuyvesant, an early pioneer to the New World. Stuyvesant served as director-general of the colony of New Netherland while residing on a farm in its capital, New Amsterdam (the former name of New York City, before the land was surrendered to England in 1664). Stuyvesant's farm was located along the thoroughfare, and Stuyvesant Street (named after him, naturally) connected it to a chapel on the present-day site of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. After his death in 1672, Stuyvesant was buried there in a vault, which was permanently sealed in 1953. Perhaps the vault wasn't sealed tightly enough, though.
According to the book Haunted Places: The National Directory, four ghosts live in the church, one of whom has a wooden leg and walks with a cane. Allegedly, this is Stuyvesant himself, whose right leg was replaced with a wooden peg after it was struck by a cannonball in 1644. According to Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, one woman said she felt "a man with a cane walking" in the center aisle of the church. He is occasionally seen and heard, too: church attendants have reported hearing the tapping of his peg leg. He also supposedly disrupted services in 1884 (by singing hymns in Dutch) and again in 1995 (by doing a vociferous inventory on bottles of rum), before disappearing into a wall. Any trip to the East Village, though, means risking bumping into the 17th-century politician, as he's generally known to wander the streets that surround the former site of his farm in centuries-old Dutch garb. Some even claim he's spending the afterlife in good company—with the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving and Harry Houdini, who also haunt the East Village.