When people think of San Francisco, California, the picture is usually sunny and bright. A cultural hub of North America and one of the best towns for art in the United States, San Francisco certainly has a vibrant reputation. But on one of the city’s notoriously foggy nights, you’ll see a different side of the City By the Bay. San Francisco is full of supposedly haunted spaces, from old Victorian houses to notorious historical locales. Here are some of the most notorious haunted places in San Francisco.
San Francisco Art Institute
The Bay Area has undergone a lot of rebuilding and renovation over the years. Earthquakes and fires made a number of places unlivable in the early 1900s, so it was common practice to move or even build on top of old cemeteries when the city was desperate for viable real estate. The long-standing San Francisco Art Institute in the Russian Hill neighborhood is one such case. Its site is one lot over from a 19th-century burial ground and it’s likely that a portion of the institute is actually on top of some old graves. Reports of spooky noises and even ghost sightings have rolled in every year since the 1960s.
Queen Anne Hotel
Most hotels in San Francisco are inviting accommodations for happy vacationers, but a few have a more sinister history. The Queen Anne Hotel is one of the city’s most recognizable Victorian house bed and breakfast establishments. While mostly known for its charming interior and gorgeous Christmas decorations, the Queen Anne is also famous for one of its honorary employees, Miss Mary Lake. Miss Lake was the namesake of a School for Girls that once occupied the house. According to many guests over the years, Miss Lake’s ghost continues to walk the halls, even occasionally providing helpful hauntings like turndown service.
The most notorious prison in American history, Alcatraz Island hasn’t been a functioning facility in decades, but the ghosts of the hardened criminals who lived and died there are still reportedly trapped in their cells. Various corridors, cell blocks, and especially the cruel “Hole” cells for solitary confinement have all been subjects of paranormal experiences. Now a museum, Alcatraz Penitentiary even offers night tours for brave ghost hunters.
The Greenwood Mansion
Today, the Greenwood Mansion in nearby Napa, California is an administrative office for the Napa County Airport, but it has a grisly past. Mr. John Greenwood and his wife were assaulted by burglars one night in 1891. Mrs. Greenwood died in the incident and Mr. Greenwood barely survived a gunshot wound. Their attackers were brought to justice, one of them executed in the last public hanging in California history, but the ghosts of the Greenwoods are still reported to mournfully haunt the mansion’s halls.
San Francisco is a great place to live it up, but it’s also a popular place for the departed to dwell. Visit San Francisco and feel the chill of a ghostly presence for yourself.
Michael Sarko is a writer living in Seattle, Washington. He regularly contributes hotel reviews and other guides to Hipmunk.com.