During Manhattan’s earliest days, when it was still New Amsterdam, and was dominated by the Dutch, the undisputed father of the colony was Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant spent the last twenty-five years of his life living in what is now the Bowery area of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, presiding over the affairs of the colony as the commander of the Dutch West India Colony, as the area was then known.
Stuyvesant was a stern leader. He had experienced a long career that had taken him around the world, and he had lost much in his previous travels. While in Curacao on military business, he lost a leg. By the time he came to preside over New Amsterdam, he was famous for both his no-nonsense demeanor and his wooden leg, which he kept wrapped in silver studs. Stuyvesant’s impact on what is now the East Village area can still be felt, as buildings, a square, and other sites in the area are named after him.
Perhaps his most important mark on the area is his continuing presence. Stuyvesant helped establish the original church that once stood where St. Mark’s Church now stands, at 10th Street and Second Avenue. Many church attendees, visitors, and staff have reported encountering a strange presence over the years. Most often, distinctive footsteps are heard––including the unmistakable sound of a peg-leg echoing throughout the halls and pews of the historic holy building. People have seen strange movements and shadows within the church’s windows while passing by on the street. The bells at St. Marks have rung at strange times, often accompanying a sighting of the ghost.
People have been reporting sightings of Peter Stuyvesant’s ghost since his death in 1672, easily making his spectre one of the most long enduring phantoms in the history of New York hauntings.
You can read about all of New York’s other haunted hotspots and ghostly gathering places in Weird New York.