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The Cursed and Haunted History of the West 57th Street Penthouse in New York City

Mental asylum patients and a troubled marriage haunt this luxury dwelling.

west 57th street penthouse
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  • Photo Credit: Google Maps

Quality apartments are notoriously hard to come by in New York City. But not 57 West 57th Street. Over the years, multiple tenants of the luxurious building have fled their fancy digs … because of an alleged curse. 

In 1922, Albert Champion, a professional cyclist and inventor of the spark plug, met and married the much younger Edna Crawford of Kansas City. In 1927, in Paris, Champion stumbled upon Edna and her French lover, a man named Charles Brazelle, canoodling in a bar. The two men fought, and Brazelle punched Champion. Hours later, Champion died in his room at the Hotel Meurice, apparently of heart failure. The fight was never investigated. 

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Edna, now $12 million richer, returned home to New York with her French lover in tow, where the two found a beautiful penthouse apartment at 57 West 57th Street. At the time, there was a medical office for the mentally ill occupying the three floors under the penthouse apartment. When Edna discovered it was not available to rent, she purchased the entire building for $1.3 million–cash. Then the two lovebirds started on a massive remodeling of the penthouse, complete with a 40-foot Venetian mural that featured a nude portrait of Edna and a $30,000 gold canopy for their bed. 

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57 west 57th street penthouse haunted nyc
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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But alas, Edna and Charles’ relationship was not long for this world. Allegedly, one night, after one of their drunken rows had gone too far, Charles beat Edna to death with a telephone. Edna's bodyguards then seized upon Charles, throwing him over the balcony. He fell 19 stories to the sidewalk below. 

For years after this incident, the penthouse apartment sat empty, until radio producer Carlton Alsop, his wife, and their four Great Danes decided to make 57 West 57th Street their home. But things quickly went downhill. The dogs acted strangely, whining and refusing to enter the apartments. Both Mr. and Mrs. Alsop complained of hearing the click-clack of a woman’s high heels on the floor even though there was no one there. 

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At her wit’s end, Mrs. Alsop moved out, abandoning the marriage. Carlton tried to cheer himself up by throwing wild parties, but his guests complained of feeling ill at ease in the penthouse, like someone was watching them. Another claimed she was followed down the stairs by some unseen woman. Eventually, Carlton Alsop went mad, and checked himself into the mental hospital just a few floors below his gilded home. 

Whether it was the ghosts of Edna and Charles, or the former patients of the hospital and sanitarium that had occupied the top floors that had cursed the penthouse of 57 West 57th Street, no one could be certain. But any person who went to look at the penthouse went away with a terrible feeling. Alsop could never rent it out. Once released from the mental institution, he abandoned the property at a considerable financial loss. Once again, the top floors sat empty for years. 

The penthouse was once again prepared for rental in 2010. Made up of three floors, at 11,000 square feet, with stunning views of midtown Manhattan and Central Park, one would think the apartment wouldn’t be on the market very long. But the feeling of wrongness still pervaded the air. 

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In 2011, an art gallery known as fordProject, an offshoot of Ford Models, held an exhibition in the space. In an article about the show published in T Magazine, journalist Linda Yablonsky addressed the cursed and haunted history of the luxury space. 

Today, the building is mostly occupied, though a few open floors remain. Perhaps the spirits of the past have gone dormant. Or perhaps they're just resting before they emerge once again.  

[via Bowery Boys]

Featured photo: Google Maps