With Halloween around the corner, ghost-hunters and thrill-seekers are looking for paranormal scares.
Sure there are the manufactured, artificial "haunted houses" where zombies and mummies pop out of dark corners. But those are fake.
If you're looking for a true heart-stopping scare, just examine history and you'll find plenty of terror.
We've compiled a list of the five creepiest historic haunted places in America. From prisons to battlefields, these places have dark pasts that may have left unfulfilled souls behind.
Washington Square Park, New York City
New Yorkers love to linger in the village's Washington Square Park, but most of them don't know the dark history behind it.
In the early 1800s, the site was a public cemetery where the poor, sick and undesirable were buried. Public executions also took place here until 1820; the convicted criminals were then buried in the same spot.
Several years later the bodies were exhumed, but many claim that the park is still haunted by the spirits of these ghosts.
The LaLaurie House, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans' LaLaurie House has a gruesome, disturbing history that dates back to the 1800s, when a wealthy Creole family moved into this French Quarter mansion with a trove of slaves.
Madame LaLaurie appeared to have a sadistic streak and rumors spread about the young slaves who would routinely disappear from the home.
But it wasn't until a fire broke out in the home and firefighters came to inspect the scene that her cruelty was truly exposed: in the rubble they found tortured, maimed and disembodied slaves—many of whom were dead—strapped to operating tables, chained to walls, and stuffed into cages.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Penn.
Eastern State Penitentiary was the first prison in the U.S. to institute solitary confinement as a punishment. That practice is rumored to have caused mental illness among inmates—some of whom reportedly haunt the halls and cells today.
This prison, which dates back to 1829, was abandoned in 1971. Today it is a museum and Halloween haunted house.
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