Ghost buildings standing out in the desolate city

There’s something about New York right now, with its (mostly) emptied streets and deserted sidewalks, that makes the phantom buildings of an earlier Gotham come out of hiding.

You know these phantom tenements and walkups—their faded outlines tend to reappear at construction sites, giving us a glimpse of the low-rise city of another era.

Sometimes they’re a longtime ghostly imprint overlooking the empty lot left behind when the building was torn down—like the one above on East 45th Street, with its distinctive chimney.

This one above, on Lafayette Street, is another unusual one, perhaps it’s the ghost of a Federal-style house from the first half of the 19th century, when many of these little homes were built (and still survive) in Lower Manhattan.

Here’s another stubby building at the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker, its chimney just visible against the lovely and much taller Bayard-Condict Building, constructed in 1899.

What will take the place of this low-rise walkup on York Avenue and 86th Street, old enough to have been dwarfed by century-old tenements?

This phantom building down at Hudson Yards might be gone by now. The building it left its outline on may have met the bulldozer, or a shiny new tower is obscuring it once again.

The slight slope to the top floor of this outline makes me think it was once a stylish brownstone or rowhouse, probably one in a group built in the late 19th century on a block in Midtown East.

Finally, on East 57th Street is this little guy, likely a 19th century apparition clinging to a more modern apartment building while haunting the bright busy Whole Foods at street level.

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11 Responses to “Ghost buildings standing out in the desolate city”

  1. petey Says:

    love all of these, interested in the second picture. it shows a window and doorway (maybe), each with shutters but going into the building now demolished?

  2. alaspooryorick Says:

    a perfect moment for ghosts. ghastly.

  3. Madeline Harper Says:

    Are the phantoms shared Walls with the buildings that are still standing? The newer buildings being built
    Right around the older?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I think most were neighbors. Then the older building was torn down, leaving its ghostly impression behind.

  4. ironrailsironweights Says:

    I recall some where you could even see the outlines of stairways.


    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I’ve seen those…you can see the floors and stairways, as if the building was ripped at the seams.

  5. David H Lippman Says:

    I see those photos and expect the wraiths of the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment of “Fantasia” to appear from those spectral chimneys.

    That portion of the movie terrified me when I was a kid.

  6. Brick and mortar phantoms of another Manhattan | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] year this site does a roundup of ghost buildings—the faded outlines of chimneys, flat or peaked roofs, windows, and staircases that were left […]

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