America’s Most Haunted Cities

Ghosts, apparitions, and unexplained sighting are legendary in all of these locations and with Halloween just around the corner, anyone who’s interested in paranormal activity ought to pack their bags and drive to one of the most haunted cities in America. Perhaps you’re the type who wants to stay at a haunted hotel in Washington, D.C., or one who wants to have a paranormal experience this coming Halloween season. Whatever your ghostly desires may be will likely be fulfilled when you pay a visit at one of the most haunted cities in America.

Most Haunted Cities in America

Savannah, Georgia

Most Haunted Cities in America: Pirate's House Savannah
Pirate’s House Savannah

Many people set aside Savannah, Georgia thinking that it’s just another pretty Southern city but underneath the dozens of squares lays some very dark secrets. It definitely is one of the most haunted cities in America.

The city was literally built above the burials grounds of Native Americans and cemeteries full of people who died in war and of diseases leading some to believe that spirits haunt the living to remind them of their presence. Some of the city’s most haunted spots include Colonial Park Cemetery where a young boy was reportedly seen on several occasions playing around the gravestones, the Sorrel Weed House where many experience unexplained ill feelings upon entry, Moon River Brewing Company where multiple ghosts from the brewery’s attic can be seen walking up the stairs, and Pirate’s House where sounds of drunken sailors can still be heard. Are you brave enough to stay at a haunted Savannah hotel like the Kehoe House?

Salem, Massachusetts

Most Haunted Cities in America: Joshua Ward House by Streets of Salem
Joshua Ward House by Streets of Salem

If you’ve heard about Salem, Massachusetts, it’s likely in the context of the 1692 witch trials where three women were accused of using witchcraft to frighten young girls. The trials spread like wildfire and caused so much hysteria that everyone else started to accuse someone of being a witch every time something strange occurred. According to records, there were over 150 people arrested and charged and as many as 19 people convicted and hanged. These 19 folks are said to haunt the area around Gallows Hill through apparition.

Another one of America’s most haunted houses is the one of Joshua Ward’s. This Federalist-style brick home located on 148 Washington Street was built upon the foundation of Sheriff George Corwin’s jail. He was infamous for rendering cruel and unusual punishments to women who were accused of witchcraft during the trials. But the death that he’s most associated with, and many believed was the root of the hauntings, was that of Giles Corey. Corey was one of the men accused of witchcraft and was eventually crushed to death by rocks because he wouldn’t relent to the charges.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Most Haunted Cities in America: Jackson Square
Jackson Square

The Big Easy is known for great live music and excellent food but what many people don’t know is that New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the most haunted cities in America. Spirits of those who perished from the War of 1812 wander the streets of the French Quarter particularly around Jackson Square where public executions took place during the reign of the Spaniards.

Then there’s the ghost of the city’s most notorious voodoo artist Marie Laveau who was buried at Saint Louis Cemetery, one of the city’s 42 cemeteries. Many have attested to seeing a black cat roaming around her gravesite as well as her spirit itself making itself known to visitors.

But the most prevalent of hauntings are said to occur at the cursed LaLaurie House. Located right in the heart of the beautiful French Quarter, this ornate mansion built in the 1800s for the physician Louis LaLaurie and his wife Delphine, was the site of a vicious crime against humanity. The Delphines were leading a double life as socialites but sadistic and cruel slave owners. They were first suspected of wrongdoing through the murder of a 12-year old slave girl but because of their good standing within the community and lack of evidence thereof, it was never proven. That was until a fire broke out of the couple’s home, which led to the discovery of their dungeon like quarters. Firefighters saw slaves chained to walls and some mutilated for medical experimentation. The horrific scenes were splattered across newspapers around the city, forcing the couple to escape to Europe to avoid persecution. The same house still stands in New Orleans today and is rumored as cursed. The ghosts of Madame LaLaurie herself as well as the young slave girl she killed are said to haunt the mansion.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Most Haunted Cities in America: Gettysburg Battlefield
Gettysburg Battlefield

This quiet and small college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was turned upside down from the first through the third of July 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. In those three days, approximately 51,000 soldiers were killed, missing or wounded. It remains the largest battle ever fought in North America and the most tragic during the American Civil War. Churches, schools, and homes were turned into hospitals where thousands of wounded soldiers ended up dying. Some of these homes such as the Lightner Farmhouse are said to also be home to Civil War soldier spirits.

Another hot spot for ghost hunters is the Jennie Wade House. Wade was the only civilian casualty during the battle and was hit by a stray bullet while she was baking bread. Visitors to the house report smelling freshly baked bread and the shadow of a young woman in an apron.

Portland, Oregon

Most Haunted Cities in America: Shanghai Tunnel Portland
Shanghai Tunnel Portland

Portland one is of the most haunted cities in America primarily because of the many paranormal sightings reported inside the city’s “Shanghai Tunnels.” These tunnels were built during the 19th century and were consequently used to smuggle or “shanghaied” dozens of men and women that were then sold or traded to be slaves or prostitutes to relentless sea captains bound for the Orient. Many believe that the ghosts that haunt these underground labyrinths are the same individuals who were snatched and then sold, many of which were never seen nor heard of again. Then there’s the famous haunted Pittock Mansion. Visitors to the house claimed to have seen apparitions of the couple, both of whom died shortly after the house was completed in 1914. People have also mentioned hearing footsteps from empty rooms or seeing windows open by themselves. Ghost sightings were also reported at the century old Bagdad Theater as well as the Willamette River where locals claim to have seen a phantom rowboat.

Washington, D.C.

Most Haunted Cities in America: Old Stone House
Old Stone House

When you walk around the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Georgetown, it’s hard not to feel the hair on your skin rise especially when the tubular bells to the tune of The Exorcist start ringing in your head. The horror movie might have sealed Washington, D.C.’s place as one of the most haunted cities in America, but ghost sightings have been around the nation’s capital since the 18th century. Park rangers have confirmed creepy incidents inside the Old Stone House, the district’s oldest building. Then there are rumors of that ghosts of past presidents and their wives roam around the White House, particularly in the Lincoln Bedroom. There’s also the mysterious black cat that reportedly shows up on the steps of the United States Capitol to warn the country of impending danger. Finally, buildings around Lafayette Square, specifically The Hay-Adams hotel, St. John’s Church, and the Blair House, have confirmed ghosts sightings of President Woodrow Wilson.

Charleston, South Carolina

Most Haunted Cities in America: Battery Park
Battery Park

The dozens of churches obviously didn’t help fend of the ghostly spirits that still haunt the city of Charleston, South Carolina today because the Southern city, often referred to as the “Holy City,” remains one of the most haunted cities in America. Many of the city’s haunted houses sit on the area known as “Battery.” One of them is Battery Carriage House Inn. Guests have reported seeing a ghost of a young man who committed suicide from the building’s roof and a headless torso on guests’ bedsides. Another well-known haunted location is the city’s Dock Street Theater where a couple of regular spirits purportedly hang around. The first is that of a young prostitute named Nettie Dickerson, who died near the theater after being struck by lightning. She would show herself, mostly to men, around the theater’s balcony. The second ghost was reportedly that of Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth. The elder Booth was said to have gone mental one night after having too much to drink and beat a man to death but gave a performance the next day like nothing ever happened. Visitors and caretakers of the theater reported seeing him take up a seat on the balcony to watch plays. But perhaps the spookiest of all of Charleston’s horror stories is one that’s tied to the Gullah, a West African culture that’s prominent in parts of South Carolina and Georgia, and that of Transylvania. The legend of Boo Hags, vampire-like creatures that are bright red in color, use the spirit of the living to gain sustenance. They also use other people’s skin as a mask when the go riding. Of course, no one has ever confirmed this, but images of the said creature in literature are enough to give anyone nightmares afterwards.

San Francisco, California

Most Haunted Cities in America: Ruins of Alcatraz
Ruins of Alcatraz

It’s difficult to imagine San Francisco, California as a haunted city. Yes, there’s Alcatraz, the infamous island prison that housed some of the most notorious criminals this country has ever seen, but mostly, visitors associate this Californian city with beauty and romanticism. But truth be told, despite the city’s beautiful façade, San Francisco is also full of tragic stories ranging from Chinese immigrants who came in huge numbers during the gold rush only to find themselves mistaken to the victims of the 1906 earthquake. Many of the immigrants ended up living miserable lives and dying alone. Visitors to Chinatown claim to sense the spirits of these unfortunate souls.

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About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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