Telling ghost stories during the Halloween season is a tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years. Since 1996, the Ghost Tour of Philadelphia has recounted the sinister tales of the City of Brotherly Love to anyone who dares to listen.
The ghost tour runs year-round, but Josh Hitchens, author of “Haunted History of Philadelphia” and 15-year veteran storyteller for the Philadelphia Ghost Tour, says that October is the best time of year to learn about the supernatural side of Philadelphia.
“Everyone’s in the Halloween spirit and also it gets dark by tour time, you have the leaves falling on the ground crunching underneath you as you walk through these old streets, so the atmosphere is really at its peak in October,” said Hitchens.
The 90-minute tour makes 7 stops in total, including historic sites such as City Tavern and Library Hall where tourgoers have the chance to learn about some of the spookier aspects of Philadelphia’s rich history.
Matt Sesma-French, a tourgoer, was shocked to hear about the dark tales of some of the most well-known spots in Philadelphia. “Washington Square, everybody walks by and has no idea what it actually is,” said Sesma-French.
In the 18th century, Washington Square Park was a mass grave for Revolutionary War soldiers and victims of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. The National Park Service confirms there are more than 1300 bodies buried beneath the park.
Hitchens shared stories about shadows who roam the park at night and unexplainable shrouded figures in photographs that were not there when the photo was taken.
At the end of the night, tourgoers are left to wonder if ghosts really do haunt Philadelphia. But Hitchens takes a definitive stance: “Philadelphia, yes, is one of the most haunted cities in the unites states of America. And I’m very, very proud to tell its stories.”