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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Haunted History: New York's Algonquin Hotel

We wanted to do something special for the 100th episode of Lunatics Radio Hour. So we decided to stay at a hotel in Manhattan with a very long history of paranormal sightings. In fact, it's the oldest operating hotel in New York City. And even if you're not into ghosts, the history of this hotel is super fascinating.

Not to mention the long standing tradition of having a hotel cat (all rescue cats), which always hang out in the lobby of the Algonquin. As it stands now, the hotel names male cats Hamlet and female cats Matilda.

Listen to our 100th episode here. But here are the basics. New York City’s Algonquin Hotel opened its doors in 1902. It’s a New York City Designated Landmark, which means that it is protected by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. To set the scene, it’s located in Times Square and has 181 rooms. The building was designed by architect Goldwin Starrett, the main partner in a firm also responsible for the New York City flagship stores of Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and so forth.

It was first intended to be an apartment hotel. Which is when tenants sign up for year long leases, but at the time, only a few people had signed on to live there.

And watch my visual tour on YouTube so you can picture some of the scenes we are describing in the episode. As promised in the episode I wanted to capture the look and feel of the hotel for you to see. But note, in the last year or so it underwent renovations, so the lobby is not exactly as it would have been during some of the historic times we discuss on the episode.

I also wanted to share some behind the scenes photos that Alan and I took on location. The Algonquin was the first major hotel in NYC to allow women to stay in the hotel alone. Here I am thriving alone in the hotel before Alan arrived. Notable guests include Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou and Commander Evangeline Booth.

We tried a method of communicating with spirits called the Estes Method. Thanks to Chris of the Buried Secrets podcast for introducing me to this method, and to Hellier (a documentary where the founders of this method use it to explore reports of the paranormal in Hellier, Kentucky.)

In the episode, I include the audio of our Estes sessions. They have been edited only to remove silences (otherwise they would be very long.) As you'll hear, Alan and I have very different approaches to interviewing the paranormal. Similar to The Bowery, the elevators are a theme here as well. Many guests have trouble with the elevators and end up on random floors. The general consensus is that the ghosts are a bit mischievous. Hotel guests have reported hearing songs in the elevator that other guests in the car don’t hear.

Also mentioned in this episode, there was a small incident with a mysterious footprint in the bathroom. Here is the photo I was able to capture. It took me a second or two to grab my phone after the shock wore off, so it faded quite quickly. It's hard to tell, but it's coming out of where the bathroom counter was. Which doesn't make a ton of sense but hey, who knows. I am certainly not claiming that it's a ghostly footprint. I am just presenting the evidence for you to decide.

I also want to take a moment to thank you all so much. It's so exciting to have come this far with this project.

We love you all so much.


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