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Mysterious Stories

Ghost Bluster: Arthur Conan Doyle and his wacky ectoplasm

A flyer for one of the author’s many Carnegie Hall lectures. (Courtesy Carnegie Hall archives) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made a startling announcement in April 1922. Known for his beliefs in communicating with the afterlife, the famed creator of Sherlock Holmes announced an extraordinary discovery — the existence of ectoplasm, the ghostly goo that emits… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Haunted Hipsters: Four Ghost Stories of Brooklyn

Dark skies over the Brooklyn Bridge, from a 1905 postcard (courtesy MCNY) PODCAST  Brooklyn is the setting for this quartet of classic ghost stories, all set before the independent city was an official borough of New York City.  This is a Brooklyn of old stately mansions and farms, with railroad tracks laid through forests and… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Podcasts

The Bowery Boys 8th Annual New York Ghost Stories Podcast rises from the grave this Thursday

It’s our favorite time of year — time for the annual Bowery Boys New York ghost stories podcast. The new show — featuring four more frightening tales — will be available this Thursday. Our new show will feature an otherworldly spirit from a Brooklyn cemetery, an apparition on the train tracks, a purportedly haunted hotel… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Queens History

MYSTERY! “Doctor Busted” and the skeleton of College Point

Above is an illustrated bird’s eye view of College Point, Queens, from a 1917 guidebook “Illustrated Flushing and vicinity.” As that book goes on to describe, “COLLEGE POINT is essentially a manufacturing town—the industrial center of the Flushing District.  It is an old settlement like Flushing and Whitestone, both of which it immediately adjoins on… Read More

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Mysterious Stories

Spectropia, or How to Make Ghosts in Your Home

Above: The cover of the New York edition of Brown’s optical illusion book One of the hottest books in New York City in the fall of 1864 was an optical illusion collection that conjured ghosts through a simple trick of the eye. Spectropia, or surprising spectral illusions showing ghosts everywhere and of any colour was… Read More

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Amusements and Thrills Mysterious Stories

Harry Houdini sitting upon his own grave 1916

Anybody watching the Houdini mini-series on the History Channel? It’s, um, interesting, I guess.  It breezes over any actual character development — eschews all forms of subtlety — and lingers upon vast areas of speculation in his biography.  This would be totally unacceptable if it were anybody else but Harry Houdini, who routinely blended fact… Read More

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Mysterious Stories

Postcard from Paris: A view of another obelisk

I’m heading through France on my way to Tom’s wedding, but I stopped by Paris to check out an object we mentioned in our Cleopatra’s Needle podcast — the Paris obelisk in Place de la Concorde!  Here it is reflected in the basin at Jardin des Tuileries.

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Mysterious Stories True Crime

The Dictaphone Murder Trial of 1914: A Mystery In Pictures

Does this woman look like a murderer to you? This is Florence Carman, the wife of Dr. Edwin Carman, one of the most respected men in Freeport, on Long Island’s south shore.  Mrs. Carman would be at the center of a murder trial that captivated New Yorkers 100 years ago. Dr. Carman received a visitor… Read More

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Mysterious Stories

Get Rich Magic: The astral adventures of Madame La Viesta and the Occult School of Science on Lexington Avenue

Above: Famed spiritualists gather in Chicago, 1906. The names weren’t listed, but perhaps Mme. La Viesta is pictured here? (Courtesy Chicago Daily News/Library of Congress)  The Gilded Age brought us human beings of impossibly vast wealth.  It also brought us a mainstream appreciation of spiritualism, an exploration of  magic and the afterlife as a way… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Planes Trains and Automobiles

“This hypocritical, swindling world” — One hundred years ago, a mysterious suicide in the halls of Pennsylvania Station

The halls of Pennsylvania Station, conjuring the grandeur of a Roman temple, would have created an otherworldly echo at rush hour on January 22, 1914.  Thousands of commuters hurrying across the marble floors of McKim, Mead and White’s steel-latticed terminal, rushing to arriving trains pulling into the sunken boarding area from deep tunnels beneath Manhattan… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Ghost Stories of Old New York: Tales from the Revolution, restless Indians, haunted forts and a drunk, headless actor

  The Van Cortlandt House, 1906PODCAST This is the Bowery Boys 7th annual Halloween podcast, with four new scary stories to chill your bones and keep you up at night, generously doused with strange and fascinating facts about New York City. For this episode, we’ve decided to go truly old-school, reaching back to old legends… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Podcasts

This Friday: Bowery Boys 7th Annual Ghost Stories Podcast

Above: The Doppelgänger, a creepy wood engraving from Harper’s Magazine, 1871 (Courtesy NYPL) It’s our favorite time of year — time for the annual Bowery Boys New York ghost stories podcast! The new show — featuring four more frightening tales — will be available this Friday. Catch up on the tradition by listening in to… Read More

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Mysterious Stories

The owls are not what they seem: It appears the clock in Herald Square may not be a portal for the Illuminati after all

Pic courtesy Brecthbug/Flickr Bummer. I so wanted the spectacular owl-infested Herald Square clock, once perched atop the offices of the New York Herald across the street, to be a secret meeting portal for the Illuminati. I facetiously brought up the theory in our December podcast on the history of Herald Square.  Upon the door of… Read More

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Brooklyn History Mysterious Stories

A Brooklyn ghost story: A famous actress, a rowdy tavern, Cobble Hill’s ‘ghost-haunted spot’ and a fool named Boerum

Above: While this is the old Brooklyn Schermerhorn house, it’s of a similar type to one that Ms. Melmoth may have owned, quickly becoming a tavern after her death. Less than two hundred years ago, in the area approximate to the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens today, there was a very, very rowdy tavern. It was… Read More

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Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Mysteries and Magicians of New York: Whimsical spirits, scary legends, strange magic and the original ghost busters

A session with a ouija board, a haunting illustration from a piece of 1901 sheet music ‘There’s A Charm About The Old Love Still’. (NYPL) PODCAST Our sixth annual ghost story podcast takes a little twist this time around. Oh sure, we have two of New York’s most FAMOUS horror stories in our first part,… Read More