Don't let all the charm, the cobblestone streets, or the quaint, 19th-century buildings fool you — the Seaport was once quite literally known as the grittiest, most debauched neighborhood in New York City.
"Forget about Las Vegas," said William Roka, a historian with the South Street Seaport Museum, guiding a group along Water Street — a thoroughfare once infamous for murders, prostitution and "rat pits."
"This was the real sin city."
He's really not exaggerating. Let's take one stop on the "Dark Tour of the Wickest Ward" Roka led as example — 273 Water Street.
Now the landmarked building is home to multi-million dollar condos, but in the mid-1800s, it was known as a real-life den of iniquity. Called Kit Burns Sports Hall, the sports were things like bare-fisted boxing matches, dog fights, and "rat pits" — dogs fighting hundreds of giant wharf rats. Sometimes Kit's son-in-law would do things like bite a head off a rat — a little something extra for the boozed crowd.
But the Sports Hall was not to be outdone by the Hole-In-The Wall bar, where the Seaport's Bridge Cafe now sits. The Hole-In-The-Wall was home to some mean "lady bouncers" including Gallus Mag, known for her teeth filed into sharp points — a dental style that helped her bite off people's ears and fingers, body parts she'd pickle and keep in jars behind the bar. The bar catered to New York's gangs, and was pretty comfortable with people killing each other.
Police eventually starting cracking down on all the grisly behavior, and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1870 demolished a lot of the area — but some think there remains some ghosts from that seedy time still lurking around their old haunting grounds.
If you'd like some more truly creepy stories for a spooky Halloween, follow along on the tour below: