It’s that time of year when humans as well as their pets dress up in Halloween costumes and discussions around trick-or-treating, candy, and of course, paranormal entities take the limelight.

I wanted to get into the proper holiday mood, and we all know nothing does the trick like a good ol’ data analysis and visualization.

The US spends $9 billion each year on this second highest commercial holiday, so I thought it’d be interesting to find out how topics such as haunted places, spirits, and mysterious creatures have been ingrained in various cities — and to find the ‘spookiest city’ in the US!

Aarrrrrgh! Aarrrrrgh! Aarrrrrgh!

That was my poor attempt to set the mood for this spooky study. Now, let’s first understand the data, our goals and then, I’ll move to the visualizations.

The dataset

The data used for this analysis was extracted from Shadow Lands which has a great index of haunted places. Locations where “ghosts and hauntings” have been witnessed are included in the list and people can report new sightings through the website — which is surely an extremely accurate and scientific method.

I’m looking to get to the bottom of the ‘spookiness’ question for Halloween’s favorite country, the US, so our data set is only focused on the 11,000 haunted places listed in the US, which all include the following data fields:

  • Location
  • City
  • State name
  • Description of the place
  • City’s latitude
  • City’s longitude


So, what exactly are we planning to uncover? Check out the following to understand:

  • Top 30 spookiest cities
  • Spookiest states based on the number of haunted places
  • Heatmap of the US based on coordinates
  • Frequently used terms in the description text
  • Relationship between words

Let’s get cracking then.

Top 30 spookiest cities

Out of 4,356 cities listed on the site, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Honolulu are the ones that have the highest number of haunted places. I used the ‘city’ data field present in the data set to arrive at the number of occurrences and created the chart given below to show the top 30 cities.