Inside Edgar Allan Poe’s hellish NYC housing hunt

Amenities include: a beating heart below the floorboards, ghosts and a jet-black raven rapping at your door.

For a few lucky literature lovers, NYC offers the chance to walk in the footsteps and even sleep under the same roof as America’s creepiest writer, Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe’s spine-chilling masterpieces were written in domiciles across the city and reflect some of the personal horrors he experienced here.

“The city is thronged with strangers, and everything wears an aspect of intense life,” Poe wrote of Manhattan in 1844 in a newspaper series titled “Doings in Gotham.” “The streets are, with rare exception, insufferably dirty.”

The more things change … you know how the saying goes.

The morbid poet “eeked” out a short but fanciful life from 1809 to 1849 and in that time, he lived in the city on at least three separate occasions and in 10 or more locations across Manhattan and The Bronx.

“Poe moved to New York for the same reason people still move to New York — it’s where things were happening,” said Scott Peoples, English professor at the College of Charleston and author of “The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City.”

“Poe moved to New York for the same reason people still move to New York — it’s where things were happening.”Scott Peoples, English professor at the College of CharlestonIn addition to his morbid poems and short stories, Poe also wrote articles about life in the city and its thriving literary scene.

“He was both an insider and an outsider to the publishing world,” said Peoples. “I think it influenced his writing. He did a lot of journalism while he was in New York, a lot of which was about New York.”

Here is a look as the precarious pads where Poe dreamed up some of the most famous literary works in American history and what’s become of them today.

Giving the bird

Poe penned “The Raven” at 215 W. 84th St. which fittingly has an avian motif in tribute. Stefano GiovanniniIn 1844, Poe moved with his wife Virginia — who was 13 years old and also Poe’s cousin — to a double room on the second floor of a farmhouse at 215 W. 84th St. at the intersection of Broadway, then known as Bloomingdale Road, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The area was still largely farmland and Poe hoped to provide respite for his wife, who was suffering from tuberculosis. It was also the location where Poe completed his most famous poem, “The Raven.”

The five-story building that stands in its place today, dubbed Eagle Court, was built in 1925 and offers 128 rental units that go from $2,100 for a studio to a one-bedroom penthouse with a private terrace, exposed brick walls and a spiral staircase for $3,600. Units boast high ceilings, ample closet space, a laundry room and the echoes of a spooky past.

Two large raven statues mark the entrance of the building along with a plaque memorializing Poe.

So, if you’re napping on West 84th Street and suddenly there comes a tapping, someone gently rapping at your chamber door, it may not be the delivery guy but “this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore.”

‘Facts’ of life

Mesmerizing: Poe penned “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” at this West 3rd Street address. Stefano GiovanniniLike any good New Yorker, after the uptown stint, Poe headed back downtown in 1845 to 85 W. Third St., where he wrote “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” a tale about a mesmerist who puts a man into a hypnotic state moments before death.

While the original building is “nevermore,” NYU, which now runs the administrative part of its law program out of that address, recreated the original façade of Poe’s home and marked the entrance with a placard that explains the history.

It’s a perfect historic match if you think about it — what could be more ghastly than law school?

Poe lived in additional locations in what is now considered Greenwich Village, including at the corner of Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue. While the building he lived in is no longer there, across the street on the corner of Waverly Place and Christopher Street there remains the Northern Dispensary, a medical clinic and pharmacy that opened in 1827 at what was then the northernmost point in Manhattan, which Poe frequented.

The original sign still marks the building, which was not in use for three decades until earlier this month when it was announced that God’s Love We Deliver would turn it into housing for low-income denizens with AIDS.

Writer’s lair

The former Ann Street home of the Evening Mirror — the first newspaper to run “The Raven” — is now lovingly called the Edgar House.CorcoranWhen he wasn’t penning nightmarish prose, Poe worked as a journalist for papers like the Evening Mirror, the newspaper that first published “The Raven.”

The paper was headquartered at 25 Ann St. in the Financial District and Poe spent significant time writing there.

In a rare twist, the building somehow survived. It was converted into apartments in 1925 and then into condos in 2000.

Today, the building has been renamed the Edgar House in a nod to its history, with a tributary plaque at the entrance.

Its nine luxury lofts offer 11-foot windows, polished concrete floors, walk-in closets and some even have fireplaces. Nothing is currently on the market there, but a three-bedroom, two-bath unit with 2,200 square feet recently sold for $2.5 million.

Funeral home

Poe and his wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (inset) moved to 2640 Grand Concourse in The Bronx in 1846. She died of tuberculosis soon after. Stefano Giovannini; Alamy Stock PhotoThe last place Poe lived with his wife was a white clapboard cottage dating back to 1812 situated on 3 acres of land at what is now 2640 Grand Concourse in The Bronx, today aptly named, “Poe Park” and “The Poe Cottage.”

Poe moved into the cottage in 1846 at a rate of $100 a year in rent in what was then Westchester in efforts to give his ailing wife yet more fresh air.

His efforts were valiant but in vain and Virginia died there in 1847. Poe wrote the poem

“Annabel Lee” here, which tells a chilling story about the death of beautiful woman.
Today, it’s the oldest Poe Museum in the United States and the last permanent home of the writer, according to Roger McCormack, Director of Education, Bronx County Historical Society. It’s open to the public and boasts creepy attractions like his wife’s deathbed and rocking chair.

When asked if he would ever like to live in Poe’s old Cottage, McCormack, unbothered (maybe even enamored?) by all the creepiness said: “All of the existing Poe houses exude a gothic charm, and would be wonderful to live in!”

Favorite haunt

This fabled building at 47 Bond has housed Poe, P. T. Barnum and a brothel. Stefano GiovanniniPoe went back downtown to 47 Bond St. after his wife died. He lived on the second floor and drowned his sorrows in the tavern on the first floor. The building, which later housed P. T. Barnum and then a brothel, is now a 4.4 Yelp-rated Mediterranean-Italian restaurant, Il Boco.

Perhaps Poe’s most emotionally charged residence, ghost sightings have been reported over the years. There is a duplex that take up the second and third floors above the restaurant and the fourth and fifth floors are each single-condo units. The last sale in the building closed 15 years ago for $950,000.

“Poe’s writing in New York was intensely shaped by his environment. He was in the middle of a dense and dynamic scene with cut-throat journalists and critics.”John Tresch, a professor at the UK’s Warburg InstitutePoe died in 1849, two years after his wife, in a hospital in Baltimore. His death remains a mystery, perhaps one greater than any he painted in his stories. A doctor ruled his death “congestion of the brain” but many historians speculate that he was a victim of “cooping” — election fraud via kidnapping, disguising and forcing a victim to vote multiple times via severe beatings — as he was found wearing a stranger’s clothes. Of course, alcoholism might just as well have done him in.

Although Poe ultimately left New York, the city always held a special allure for him.
“Poe’s writing in New York was intensely shaped by his environment,” said John Tresch, a professor at the UK’s Warburg Institute, who has published several papers on Poe. “He was in the middle of a dense and dynamic scene with cut-throat journalists and critics.”

Poe never did achieve enough fame to earn fortune in his lifetime and all of the places he lived were dives. But it’s almost poetic that he lived like so many New York writers do today: floating between cheap walk-ups on the fringes of town.

Read more

Previous articleOhio State back as a betting powerhouse
Next articlePersona And Shin Megami Tensei Composer Has Left Atlus To Develop Indie Games


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here