Monday, January 5, 2009

Creepy Spirits Scare the Crap Out of Visitor to Roosevelt Island's Former Lunatic Asylulm at the Octagon Rental Building

Image of 1897 Octagon Lunatic Asylum from nyc10044

Blogger Melissa Bastian travels the length of the F train subway line from Jamaica Queens to Coney Island Brooklyn with a stop at Roosevelt Island to do some exploring. She visits the former Roosevelt Island lunatic asylum that is now the Octagon rental building noting that Charles Dickens and Nelly Bly wrote about the asylum as a place of suffering and horror.

Her first impression of the new and improved Octagon residential building was:
... The architects really did do a wonderful job of restoring the structure; the building itself is indeed quite beautiful, with a spiral staircase winding around the perimeter of the atrium....
But then came her Dark Water moment when the spirits and ghosts of Roosevelt Island come alive.
... At first the space felt like most newly constructed spaces feel - sort of vacant and dead. But then, all of a sudden, a wave came over me - of panic, of fear, of Very Bad Things. I looked around, and the lobby was still as calm and unremarkable as could be. But this energy was surging through me with a force that made me feel as if I might fall down. I collected Sarah and got the hell out.

We crossed the street to a little area with benches and a sundial, and it took me several minutes of sitting and breathing to collect myself. Now, I am not one to go in for a lot of heebee jeebee mumbo jumbo. But I have this thing with places. I suppose the best way to explain it is that I believe in energy; that a place can be infused with the energies of its occupants if those energies are strong enough, good or bad, and that the traces can last long past their actual presence. I know it sounds a little goofy, and maybe I just watched The Shining too many times when I was a kid. But I've felt many things in many places, and never in my life have I felt anything like that. And I lived in New Orleans for chrissake. Granted, I went in knowing the history of the place, but it certainly isn't what I was thinking of at the time. I was thinking about how pretty it was, and the nice weather, and how yuppies like to live in expensive places with tennis courts. And it just hit me out of nowhere, like a sickness. Whatever it was that happened in there, it is not an experience I have any desire to repeat...
The Dark Water movie was filmed at the Eastwood (now re-named Roosevelt Landings by the new owners, Urban America) buildings not the Octagon but the spirits inhabiting Roosevelt Island may be all over the place. Remember the Encampment?

You Tube Video of Dark Water trailer

A reader points out a 4 bedroom/flexible 5 bedroom apartment available at Roosevelt Landings on Craigslist for $4125 a month. No word on whether that includes the spooky spirits though.

This 2007 NY Times City Room item has more on whether Roosevelt Island is haunted.
Recently renovated as a pricey apartment building named “Octagon,” tenants may find that their new apartments have “squatters.” In a May 2006 segment on “Paula Zahn Now” on CNN, reporter Allen Chernoff noted the eerie coincidence that, on the day that the Octagon reopened, the Roosevelt Island tram to Manhattan broke down. Additionally, pet owners observed that some pets refused to walk up stairs in the building. CNN invited in a team of ghost hunters, who claim to have detected several apparitions on their sophisticated equipment.
A Curbed reader may have spotted an Octagon ghost on the spiral staircase during a 2006 visit.

From Curbed:
I took a picture of the stairwell. in the attached photograph (above), you can see that it's still a delightfully maddening spiral, but also i do believe that is a ghost in the upper left corner of the picture. it's the grayish blur near the banister. it's not sunlight from the windows, as you can see that stops in the lower half of the picture. it's not a reflection from my camera's flash, because the surrounding wood would show a gradation of light.


Anonymous said...

"Additionally, pet owners observed that some pets refused to walk up stairs in the building."

I don't blame them. I would not walk those steps to nowhere.

Embee Breedlove said...

Yes, it's true - just walking into that place creeped me the hell out. If you're gonna find ghosts anywhere, wouldn't it be a lunatic asylum that burned down at least once? Not so mysterious, and I figured I'd feel something - I just didn't expect it to be like that! It practically knocked the wind out of me. Maybe they wouldn't let my friend take any footage because sometimes what the eye cannot see the camera can... ya think?

Anonymous said...

You know, I am even more impressed with this amazing work of architecture in my afterlife than I when I first visited the site in the 1840's. They did a fantastic job with the historic renovation and the amenities are terrific - waterfront park and swimming pool, 6 tennis courts, on-site child care center run by Bright Horizons, 2200 sf fitness center, cafe, art gallery and library (with some of my books) and the apartments have incredible views of the Manhattan skyline and river. Damn - I wish I was still alive to enjoy all this stuff. -Charles Dickens

Unknown said...

ok let me tell you this i was one of the people on cnn guided tour as a ghost hunter and i would say yes there is more then people there i also have pics and thermal image of that place and it all shows that there is something els there

Hearing Loss and Hearing Damage said...

That is creepy!

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