We have a secret to share. Our neighborhood has a sketchy past. We have heard bits and pieces since arriving in Hell’s Kitchen last March, so we set out to do some detective work and separate fact from lore. Our best source was New York Times, 2007. There were stories of gangsters and gang wars, ghosts and mysterious disappearances, gruesome murders, streetwalkers and speakeasies. Everything to make a movie – in fact two that were blockbusters.
October seems to be a fitting month to resurrect these mysteries, reveal the macabre, and share the local haunts.
Landmark Tavern is just around the corner, facing 11th Avenue. In 1868 Patrick Crowley opened the Landmark Tavern, an Irish saloon. In those days there was no 12th Avenue, just the shores of the Hudson River where this tavern sat. It is one of the oldest continuously operating landmarks in The City, and it continued to remain open, even through prohibition, where it operated as a speakeasy. As with any respectable Irish Bar, it holds secrets that are told as ledgends. Let’s start with the Civil War veteran who was stabbed in a knife fight. He crawled upstairs and died in a bathtub (what was he thinking?) on the 2nd floor. His ghost is said to still haunt that floor.
But it is a bit crowded. The spirit of a young immigrant girl who died in her bed upstairs on the 3rd floor is also said to reside there.
There are many ghosts there. Our waiter said he avoids them by not going upstairs. George Raft, Hollywood gangster movie star from the 30’s and 40’s grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and frequented the Landmark. He had his own special table in the back room. Some say his ghost also comes to visit. On certain nights the boards creak and there is an strange feel around his table. Perhaps the three of them are gathering for a round of drinks.
Then there is Death Avenue…. Stay tuned.