One if by Land, Two if by Sea is a restaurant located in the heart of New York City's West Village on Barrow Street. It's a romantic room, with rich wood decor, white linen tablecloths, ornately framed oil paintings of old dead people, a grand piano and ghosts...
Well, the ghosts may not be all that romantic, but they do add to the ambiance. Some of paranormal phenomena is just poltergeist pranking: picture frames tilting, devices turning themselves on and off, icy drafts (and we don't mean imported ales) by the bar, flying plates, chairs being pulled out from under people, flickering lights, footsteps heard coming from an empty attic, cold spots, staff members being shoved by unseen hands (sometimes down steps), orbs and that sort of ghostly tomfoolery.
Minor ethereal annoyances, to be sure. But the waitstaff has caught glimpses of shadows out of the corner of their eye, and waiters have even gone to serve customers who turned out to be hungry specters instead of warm bodies. It's enough that some workers have handed in their resignations on the spot.
But there are a lot more things going bump in the New York night than misty forms and incarnate mischief. Mediums have identified 23 spirits who call the restaurant home. The physics say they are from a variety of eras, but are all aware of one other.
In the Constitution Room, diners who are loud or argumentative usually request being seated in another of the restaurant's rooms without knowing why. The answer is simple. The room is the haunt of a former Ziegfeld Follies girl who passed away in the building and didn't approve of uncivil tongues. The staff lights candles for her gentle soul.
The Mezzanine is the stomping grounds of a lady entity in a nineteenth century black dress who appears late at night. One of the balcony tables is sometimes occupied by the specter of an African-American man. Another shadow is a woman dressed in a black gown who walks down the staircase, but never up. The speculation is that she broke her neck falling down the steps.
There's a spirit who inhabits the restaurant office. Another regular apparition is of a man who enjoys sitting by the fireplace, and yet another of a ghostie who is generally spotted by the front door. Others have noted the distinctive perfume scent of a dearly departed patron in the ladies’ room. Every nook seems to have its own lore...or at least 23 of them do.
But Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia Burr Alston are the pair most identified with the restaurant, and in fact the building is claimed to be Burr's old carriage house. There's a big honking portrait of Aaron in the house to drive home the connection. Yet with the proximity and all the baggage old Aaron carried around (that duel definitely brought on some bad juju), the jury is still out on whether he is one of the many other worlders who frequent the hideaway, although the court of popular opinion says yea.
Theodosia has quite a story, though. The tale goes that she traveled by ship from South Carolina to visit her dad at home, but was captured by pirates off North Carolina who made her walk the plank. But she made it to New York in spirit, and it's said she now has taken up residence in the restaurant, the closest remaining part of her home.
She's said to have a thing for jewelry, and her usual manifestation is to yank off the earrings of lady patrons, especially at the bar (although in this day and age, she may start targeting the guys, too.)
So if you're looking for a nice, lights down low dinner in the Big Apple with your inamorata, head to One If By Land. Who knows who the two of you will get to split that last bottle of wine with? Oh, and have her wear clip-on earrings, just to be on the safe side.