There’s Something Strange In The Neighborhood

Hauntings At Hell Gate

During the month of October, it is time to celebrate the harvest, new beginnings, and All Hallows Eve. If you’re like me, you’re probably not a huge fan of things that go bump in the night. So, as you can imagine, I have prayed and have taken all the necessary precautions before even discussing the paranormal that often makes folks, such as myself, paranoid.

From the cusp of Long Island City and Hunters Point, the area known as “Hell Gate” is home to some of Astoria’s spookiest stories.

In the late 1800s, there was a home on Jackson Avenue (today’s Northern Boulevard) and Dutch Kills Road where a landlord was unable to rent the property due to a ghost which would scream “Murder, murder!” in the middle of the night.

In January 1974, The New York Times covered the series of eerie events in the home. Reports tell the old story of the Daly family who moved in and it was here that they had an ill fated encounter with the ghost. One person was injured, and a young boy was literally scared to death going into convulsions and dying after his encounter with the ghost. Murder, murder indeed.

Elsewhere, on 44th Street between Broadway and 34th Avenue stands one of Astoria’s most popular haunted homes. This haunted story took place in 1702 and is still told by locals today. Legend has it that roaming the rooms of the row of houses on 44th Street is the spirit of a Mrs. Hallett who has been known to leave a trail of lavender in her wake. She has been said to have drowned in a nearby creek after fleeing from her slaves who killed her husband and two children. Cloaked in white hair she can be a chilling presence in tenants’ apartments, waking them up in the dead of night, paralyzing their feet and legs, and breaking mirrors.

As I approach the series of homes, a red car pulls up with two men, pleasant and warm. When asked, one of the men confirms the spooky story. He has a relative who lives on the same street, and has heard the tale of Mrs. Hallett passed down from older generations throughout the years.

“Astoria is not scary,” said some residents with a sly grin as I ask them about the neighborhood’s ghoulish past.

I often wonder what it is that makes the living so inquisitive about life after death. Is it the lack of knowledge? Or is it the shrieking images of the dead who are still present after death?

There are numerous local reports of screaming voices and slamming doors in the area. So, if you’re one of those people that loves all things scary, take some time this fall to walk around and embrace the haunted houses of our neighborhood.