homes

I Tried Using A Ghost Detector In My 117-Year-Old Apartment And It Was Frightening

by Kate Taylor
Kate is a writer who laughs at her own jokes and likes to pour too much hot sauce on her food.

I’ve spent most of my life living in older houses and now apartment buildings. Part of the house I grew up in dates back to the Revolutionary War, and needless to say, a lot of people have probably lived and died in there.

Of course, my bedroom was always in the older part of the house. I was never really afraid of ghosts, partly because my mom always told me that if there were ghosts in our house, they would be happy ones. I took her word for it.

Since then, I have moved to an apartment in New York that I share with two roommates. It’s our first apartment, and as you can imagine, it’s not the nicest piece of real estate in the city.

In fact, I have to warn guests that it looks kind of like a murder scene, as you walk up the five flights of stairs to get to our spot on the sixth floor. We joke about it being a “penthouse,” in a heavily sarcastic manner.

The other day I was by myself in my apartment when the lights started to flicker in my room. I had never thought about the possibility of living with ghosts before, but then it dawned on me: If any apartment I’ve been to in New York were to be haunted, it would definitely be mine. So, I got a ghost detector and decided to find out.

What Is An EMF Meter, AKA Ghost Detector?

<u>What Is An EMF Meter, AKA Ghost Detector?</u>
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

If you’ve ever watched one of those supernatural type of shows where a team of people enter a haunted location and look for spirits, they probably had a version of one of these.

An EMF meter, or electromagnetic field meter, is a little device that, as you guessed, measures electromagnetic fields.

According to the packaging of this fine device: “When ghostly activities take place, electromagnetic anomalies often occur in the environment. This meter can help you detect these disturbances.”

EMF sensors aren’t exactly science, and do go off when electronic devices are near. Above, you can see my phone impacting the meter.

As I played with it, though, it seemed to desensitize to my phone as long as it was far enough away.

Why Do I Suspect I'm Haunted?
My Neighborhood

<u>Why Do I Suspect I'm Haunted?</u><br>My Neighborhood

Living in an old building on its own isn’t exactly enough evidence of paranormal activity. But when I began to consider the history of my neighborhood, I started to open my mind to the idea that I might have more than two roommates.

The area is what the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy calls “a neighborhood that has embodied the hopes and struggles of generations of Newcomers to America.”

In other words, when our ancestors came to America via Ellis Island, chances are they ended up here. My apartment may not be the Taj Mahal, but it’s a lot cushier than it was back then.

You can find the Tenement Museum right around the corner from my building.

History explains tenements are:

Buildings that had once been single-family dwellings were increasingly divided into multiple living spaces to accommodate this growing population. Known as tenements, these narrow, low-rise apartment buildings–many of them concentrated in the city’s Lower East Side neighborhood–were all too often cramped, poorly lit and lacked indoor plumbing and proper ventilation.

In other words, a tenement is not a place you want to live, but where many immigrants were forced to begin their lives during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Further investigation revealed that there are tales of haunted spirits in and around my neighborhood.

My Building

My Building

I know my building is old, but I wasn’t sure exactly how much history it was party to. I did some research.

According to Street Easy, my building was built in 1900, right around when History estimates 2.3 million people lived in these tenement conditions in the city.

Given the location and condition of my apartment, it was definitely one of them.

History Of The Tuberculosis Window

History Of The Tuberculosis Window

There is one more detail that solidifies the fact that my apartment is an old tenement. Enter, the tuberculosis window.

According to Ephemeral New York, TB windows, or an interior window inside an apartment that just opens to another room instead of outside, were “mandated by a 19th century city law requiring that tenements have cross ventilation.”

With up to 12 people living in these conditions, a little window was apparently better than nothing.

Spoiler alert: This did nothing to actually prevent TB, but it was a cheap trick by landlords who didn’t want to remodel the whole apartment after the law passed.

My Apartment

My Apartment
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Lo and behold, my apartment has a TB window. Luckily, it doesn’t have 12 people sleeping in there (at least most nights).

However, I did learn that this strange opening in the wall was a TB window after a friend of mine came over from her Tenement Museum tour.

Apparently, she saw one just like it in a preserved apartment on the tour! It probably didn’t have houseplants hanging from the top, but you get the idea.

Is My Apartment Haunted?
Let The Hunting Begin

<u>Is My Apartment Haunted?</u><br>Let The Hunting Begin
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

The first night I tried the ghost detector, it immediately started going crazy as I walked toward my building. I wasn’t expecting this.

Since I was out in the open, it didn’t really scare me. I think it could have had something to do with all of the cars buzzing past, but still an ominous sign.

The Stairwell

The Stairwell
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Things changed a little bit as I walked up the many stairs to my apartment. I was alone and in the area I describe as a “murder scene.”

I say this because the paint is red and chipping, and there are random smears of red paint everywhere.

This dark corner triggered some activity, and I was definitely not surprised.

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Here is a photo of me walking even more quickly up the stairs because apparently these hallways are haunted!

Kate Taylor for LittleThings

To add to the creepiness factor of my apartment, take a look at my stairs from the top.

That little bright square at the bottom is the ground floor. I constantly feel like Alice in Wonderland falling into the rabbit hole as I descend down into the depths of the building.

No ghosts here, though, so that’s one good thing to celebrate.

The Hallway

The Hallway
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Here’s my creepy hallway. Does it look like somewhere a spirit would hang out? 100%.

However, the EMF meter read otherwise. But not for long…

The Front Door

The Front Door
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Next, exactly what I was scared of happened. The EMF sensor started going crazy right in front of my door.

Again, am I surprised? Absolutely not. Am I disturbed? Absolutely.

The Living Room

The Living Room
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

I mustered up all of my courage and ventured into my apartment. I assumed that the reading outside the door was an indication of what was to come, but that wasn’t quite it.

I wandered around our living room and the only place I got a reading was around where our electrical box was.

Note: The dark figure next to the TB window is my roommate and not a ghost.

The Bathroom

The Bathroom
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

The bathroom also came up clean, which is a relief. There is something especially scary about the thought of showering in the presence of a spirit.

The Bedroom

The Bedroom
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Last but not least, my room. Obviously, this is the absolute last place I would like for the EMF meter to go off.

I reluctantly crawled all over my bed with my eyes closed hoping that nothing would happen. Luckily, the little sucker stayed quiet.

Conclusions

<u>Conclusions</u>
Kate Taylor for LittleThings

Do I believe in ghosts now? To reiterate, I am on the fence about ghosts, so I’m not sure whether or not I “believe.”

Was it scary? Being human, I would obviously be a little disturbed if the EMF sensor was going crazy the whole time I was in my apartment. Two roommates is more than enough. Still, there was some funky stuff going on in the hallways, and I am not even a little surprised.

Would I try it again? For now, I’m retiring the EMF sensor and telling myself that the spirits outside my door can’t get inside. Oh, and sleeping with a little light on.

Be sure to SHARE my experience with your friends!