Visit even the smallest of towns in the U.S. and you’re likely to hear some local ghost stories and discover a few haunted houses. But some American cities have gained the reputation for being particularly ghost-ridden thanks to their rich and often bizarre historical backgrounds. The following are ten of the most haunted cities to steer away from.
10. San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s rich cultural makeup, large immigrant population, and a history of natural disasters like earthquakes have helped it develop a reputation as a Mecca of all things haunted. Chinatown alone is home to countless ghost tours and creepy folklore, but the city also boasts a wealth of haunted hotels, mansions, and army bases.
Of these, one of the most famous is the Queen Anne Hotel, which served as a school for girls in the 1890s and is said to be haunted by the ghost of its former headmistress, Mary Lake. There are also a number of stories concerning Mary Anne Pleasant, the so-called “Voodoo Queen of San Francisco,” who was a former slave and abolitionist who used a knowledge of the black arts to gain wealth and influence among the city’s elite.
Even the trendy San Francisco Art Institute, which is rumored to have been built on top of a graveyard that housed victims of the 1906 earthquake, is said to be the home of several ghosts who have frequently been seen climbing the stairs to a tower that overlooks the ancient cemetery.
Most Haunted Place: Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, but the former maximum-security prison is also home to some of the city’s weirdest ghost stories. Visitors to the island often claim to see apparitions walking the cell blocks, and sometimes hear voices emanating from what was once the cafeteria.