Is the 'Most Violent Street in America' Haunted?

Over the years, Doyers Street has alternately been dubbed “Bloody Angle” and “Murder Alley” for the amount of killings that have occurred there.

Deep in the heart of New York’s Chinatown lies a path so infamous it is known as the "most violent street in America."

Over the years, Doyers Street has alternately been dubbed “Bloody Angle” and “Murder Alley” for the amount of killings that have occurred there.

But is America’s most violent street also haunted? 

Panic on the Streets

Shaped like a serpent slithering through downtown Manhattan, Doyers Street has played host to a massive amount of violence and corruption since the 19th century.

Named after the 18th century Dutch immigrant Hendrik Doyer, who once ran a distillery on the street, it became a haven for immigrants coming to America for a better life, particularly Asian immigrants who settled in the neighborhood.

“Doyers Street is this very small street known for this very crooked angle that it has. It's surrounded by mostly 19th century tenements with businesses around the way," historian and "Bowery Boys" podcast co-host Greg Young told "But because of that angle, it's one of the most unusual streets in New York City and it has a lot of urban legend surrounding it."

He added: “The first Chinese immigrants first came to this neighborhood around 1850, 1860, and were really entrenched in this neighborhood by about the 1890s and they brought with them a lot of different kinds of customs that you couldn't find anywhere else in New York or in most of the United States actually.

“So as a result of this, because of the food, because of the opium dens, just because of some of the more exotic customs, this neighborhood also became a Bohemian destination. People from other quarters of the city, like from Greenwich Village, [would be] going down there to maybe have an evening in Chinatown.”

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the street also became a haven for Chinese gangs known as Tongs. With its hidden doors and tunnels, and narrow alley, Doyers Street offered lots of cover.

“There were many ways to actually access those tunnels here in the late 19th century. So you could be having a shootout, or a fight, or something, and then just sort of like spirit away quickly into an underground tunnel. And if the police came, they would never find you,” Young said. 

Due to the high crime on the street, it quickly became infamous.

“It got this reputation as being the most violent street in America because there was so much violence on the street, these actual attacks between gangs, that a lot of it would even go unreported, and that even major incidents of crime that would happen there,” Young said. 

One of the first mass shootings in the history of New York City occurred on Doyers Street in 1905 when rival gangs opened fire on each other during a performance at the Chinese Theater, claiming the lives of three people. 

Fires would also break out in the tenement buildings on the street and would be difficult to get under control due to the narrowness of the street, leaving many trapped inside the apartments to perish. 

“I think that Doyers Street is actually one of the most haunted-seeming places, and [it] has a very mysterious vibe to it. Partially because almost all the architecture, nothing has changed really, in like several decades, everything feels as if this is how it looked 100 years ago. Sort of feels like you're a visitation from the past, a little bit,” Young said. “And so, all of it collectively, although it's a great place to experience history, it also is a very moody place because it is very stuck in time in many senses.”

The Walking Dead?

Inspired by the new CBS series "Evil," teamed up with the Gotham Paranormal Research Society to see if the street is haunted because of its violent history.

According to legend, the Doyers Street is shaped like a serpent so that spirits would find it difficult to navigate off the block and not penetrate other areas of Chinatown. 

“The street is still mysterious today because there are underground passages that still exist, that are still used, probably for less nefarious purposes than they were before, but you can make your imagination run wild as you cross the street at Doyers, and again, on a certain moody day, you never know what you're going to see,” Young said.

A family with the Gotham Paranormal Society, Angela, Bill and Daniel Artuso, investigated Doyers Street with a series of gadgets and gizmos that help detect the presence of light, sound and vibrations that humans cannot sense on their own. 

Due to the volume of foot traffic and noise on the street, the team had to go underground in one of the tunnels to find a quieter area for the mechanisms to work.

Angela, Bill, and Daniel spoke into the ether and asked the spirits if they would come out and touch any of the objects the team had set up. 

After much waiting, the team tried a new tactic that they had never tested before. By using Google Translate, the team began asking the same questions to the spirits in Chinese in the hopes of communicating with the spirits walking among them. 

Following a few tests, including one in which period music was played, there was suddenly a spike on one of the devices, suggesting something might have been in the foyer with the team. 

“See what's difficult too is if we think we're hearing a response, we can't be 100% sure if it's coming from upstairs or the door behind us. So we have that challenge,” Angela explained.

Watch the video above to see what the team concluded on whether the street was haunted or not.