Philadelphia is an old city with a rich past. Many know iconic Philly for its role in America’s early government or its famous Art Museum steps from the Rocky movies. Or, perhaps you may know Philadelphia for its famous Eastern State Penitentiary – the world’s first true penitentiary system, once home to notorious mobster Al Capone, whose ghost is often seen in the hallways.
Philadelphia is undoubtedly a haunted city with hundreds of years of ghastly stories. Behind the narrow streets and old brick buildings lays an eerie past of paranormal sightings, gruesome accidents, and untimely deaths. Benjamin Franklin is claimed never to have truly left the city, roaming the old streets and buildings, with several accounts of one of the statues of him even coming to life and dancing in the streets. Other famous figures still lingering on the cobblestone roads include Betsy Ross, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alexander Hamilton. These prominent figures shaped the nation we live in today but paid the ultimate price: wandering the city forever as a doomed, lost soul.
Our tour will take you through Philadelphia’s Old City – home to some of America’s oldest and most haunted buildings, roads, and monuments. Our stories are based on historical events, local legends, and eyewitness accounts of paranormal activity. We’ve reviewed historical records and research for each of the stops on our tour for evidence of hauntings and spirits, and we strive to bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information about Philadelphia’s past and its haunted present. Visit our About Us page to learn more about Philly’s history and why our tour is the best!
What draws the supernatural to Philadelphia?
Philadelphia’s bloody past has left behind some spirits who would like a different ending to their life story. Whether it was the Revolutionary War or The Yellow Fever that took their lives, the ghosts around Old City, Philadelphia, are doomed to repeat their tragic past as they continue to haunt the cobblestone streets. The concentration of human energy here and the passionate figures you will hear about have all poured endless amounts of human energy into this city. These are just a few of Philadelphia’s special features that make it a perfect setting for ghosts to prowl the streets.
In 1681, William Penn sailed from England, arrived here, and set out Philadelphia’s city grid on the Delaware River’s West bank. This was the start of what would become the Pennsylvania colony. Later, in 1790, after the Revolutionary War, Philadelphia served as the United States’ capital, and many prominent American figures such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton wrestled the country into being and onto its feet. It is said the ghosts of America’s most prominent founding fathers can be seen all across Philadelphia: from lingering at Independence Hall, lurking in the many graveyards here, even dancing in the street! The founding fathers have a special relationship with Philadelphia, a city to which they gave so much of their heart and soul, that they still wander the city they worked so hard to build.
In 1793, Philadelphia was literally decimated by a Yellow Fever epidemic, which took about 5,000 of Philadelphia’s 50,000 residents. The Fever was carried to Philadelphia in mosquitoes, which bred in the stagnant, stenching streams that ran through residential backyards. These streams were dumping grounds for human and animal waste, and the pandemic grew, devastating the city for two years. Bodies were dumped into mass graves which pockmarked this previously blooming city, now stalled by the pandemic. Many families abandoned the city due to the Yellow Fever. Still, many prominent doctors remained behind to help care for the sick, many at the nation’s first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, on Pine and 9th streets. With the stench of death still lingering in these old houses, many ghost sightings have occurred in the old colonial homes where many infamous doctors and patients lost their lives to the disease. Many of these same homes survive in the Old City today, including Elfreths Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited road in America.
Philadelphia is riddled with many cemeteries and graveyards carrying both prominent and forgotten figures alike. Back in the late 1700s, when death was occurring nonstop due to the War and then the Yellow Fever, many public spaces were dug up as mass graves for the unwanted to be tossed aside.
The bodies buried in mass graves were commonly referred to as “strangers” to the city at the time – African Americans, suicide victims, prisoners of war, and victims of smallpox. These forgotten bodies like to make a name for themselves now by leaving the grave at night and haunting the town! In addition to these mass grave sites, Philadelphia is home to some of the first churches in the country, all accompanied by cemeteries with their fair share of ghost sightings. From Naval captains to first wives to Native American chiefs, these active cemeteries are sure to give you a chill as you walk their grounds.
There’s no doubt Philadelphia’s rich history plays host to dark paranormal forces, some of which we hope you’ll encounter on our tour! Book your tour today to experience all the thrills, chills, and fun Philadelphia has to offer!