6 Urban Legends Based on True Events

From Charlie No-Face to the wandering mummy, here are six bone-chilling urban legends that are even more horrifying because they're rooted in true events.

Urban legends are terrifying, though fortunately most of them aren't true...right?

Actually, more urban legends than you might think are rooted in true events. Sometimes knowing the truth about our favorite stories makes them even sadder; often it shows that the stories were born more out of fear than actual horror.

Here are six urban legends rooted in true events.

1. Charlie No-Face

Charlie No-Face

Charlie No-Face


This is a particularly sad story. Many people in Western Pennsylvania today tell stories about a horrifying man who haunts an abandoned train tunnel. In some stories, the man glows; in others, his skin emanates radiation.

Actually, the legend is most likely based on the fate of a poor boy named Ray Robinson, who was electrocuted by a trolley wire. As a result, his face was forever disfigured. He would sometimes take walks at night, and when villagers saw him they sometimes spun wild tales about his identity, turning him into a Boo Radley-esque figure even though really the guy was probably just trying to get some air.

2. Corpses Rotting in Hotel Rooms

Body Found In Hotel Room

Body Found In Hotel Room


You've probably heard some version of the story: A tired traveler enters a hotel room, only to smell something awful coming from under the bed, or out of the sink…

Unfortunately, these legends are somewhat rooted in reality. At Los Angeles's Cecil Hotel in 2013, guests complained of a terrible smell coming from the water for days before the body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam was discovered, having been decomposing in the hotel's water tank for two weeks.

Then there was the time when a couple in Atlantic City discovered a dead body in their mattress—and the time guests at the Budget Motel in Memphis discovered the body of a missing person named Sony Millbrook under their bed… Maybe we'll just stay away from hotels for now.

3. Subterranean Cities and Tunnels

Atlas Obscura - Puebla Tunnels

Atlas Obscura - Puebla Tunnels

Atlas Obscura

Many places have rumours about underground cities that exist just below ground, and the underground city concept has been fodder for countless fairytales (i.e. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere).

But sometimes, just sometimes, there actually is an underground city humming just a few hundred feet below. Though most conspiracy theories about an underground city below Denver Airport have been debunked, Las Vegas actually has an underground city—which is sadly meant to shield tourists from the city's unhoused population.

As police's limitations prevented unhoused people from camping aboveground, more and more people began living in the city's underground flood tunnels. Pretty damn devastating if you ask me.

In slightly better news, for hundreds of years, residents of Puebla City, Mexico had told tales of an underground city that existed just beneath theirs. In 2015, a construction crew discovered a vast network of tunnels underneath the city's streets, which were believed to have been constructed in the 16th century and which are now open to tourists today.

4. The Killer Who Comes in Through the Bathroom Mirror

They Came In Through the Bathroom Mirror

They Came In Through the Bathroom Mirror

Chicago Reader

The movie Candyman features a famous scene in which old medicine cabinets connect two apartments, allowing an interloper to enter through the mirror. This actually happened in real life.

In 1987, a woman named Ruthie Ann McCoy was shot to death by an intruder who came in through her medicine cabinet.

Tragically, Ruthie Ann called the police before she died, telling them that there was someone trying to knock down her medicine cabinet. The cops arrived, but when she didn't answer, they left—only to return to a grisly scene the next day.

5. The Funhouse Mummy



First to Know

Children have long been entertained by stories of haunted house mummies actually being real corpses. Horrifyingly, this story is rooted in reality. In 1976, a movie crew filming The Six Million Dollar Man attempted to move what they thought was a prop corpse in a haunted house—and its arm came off, revealing human bone.

The body belonged to criminal mastermind Elmer McCurdy, who had been killed after robbing a train in 1911. McCurdy was embalmed and propped up in the funeral home as an exemplary showcase of the embalmer's work. After a while, two people who claimed to be family members showed up—but they were actually wily carnival workers looking to score a spooky attraction. McCurdy's body was shown all around the country on carnival tours before settling at the haunted house in Long Beach. Finally, after all these years, McCurdy's body is underground—but his legend lives on.

6. Staten Island's Cropsey

Cropsey Staten Island

Cropsey Staten Island

The Lineup

A legendary boogeyman supposedly living in a condemned asylum on Staten Island turned out to be...real.

Rumours said Cropsey lived in the woods and murdered children, bringing them back to the remains of an old tuberculosis sanatorium where he lived. In actuality, the boogeyman was a former employee of the Willowbrook School, which was condemned in 1987. It had been home to over 6,000 developmentally challenged people (as opposed to the 2,000 it was supposed to hold). Cropsey was actually Andre Rand, a janitor who was arrested in connection with a number of disappearances shortly after the school closed. Rand has been linked to at least five murders.

So there you have it. The rumors of the boogeyman living in your walls might not be rumou]rs at all. Of course, if you really wanted true horror stories, you could just turn on the news.

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7. Low Prices (vs. other Airbnb lodging options and flexible cancellation policy)

Before I found out about Getaway, I thought, gosh. Travel can be expensive, even with everything that is going on. Cabin rentals on Airbnb are so pricey, not to mention their no exceptions cancellation policy—which is totally a turn-off. Even the discounted all-inclusive lodging vacation I've been daydreaming about was out of the picture with my work schedule, sigh.

I was almost at my wits end, then, my friend Kiara brought up this cool new Getaway experience she recently got back from at a beautiful tiny cabin outpost nestled nearby in Hill Country, Wimberley, Texas for $99 a night! I immediately told my boyfriend, and we decided why not go ahead and try it for the weekend!

6. Facilities and Amenities (What's included)

So we went online to Getaway's website and chose the Cabin for Two, which actually had everything we wanted for a weekend escape in nature—giant windows with beautiful views and great amenities including: a comfy queen bed that sleeps two, warm shower, bath products, AC and heat, plus a mini-kitchen stocked with cooking supplies and light meal provisions available for less than $10 each. And, with self-check-in and check-out, booking was as simple and easy! That next weekend we set off into the auburn sunset, next stop—Getaway Hill County!

When we got to our tiny hand-crafted hideaway we instantly fell in love.

5. The Blue Hole Experience

The next morning after my boyfriend cooked us breakfast (yes, he's house-trained), our first stop was the Blue Hole Park Trail Loop with one of the most beautiful natural swimming holes in Texas. We made sure to make a reservation in advanced, and boy can I still smell the oak, cypress and cedar trees surrounding the crystal blue water and canopied trails, I didn't hesitate for a second and jumped in body-first. After a dip, we spent the rest of the afternoon in leisure completing the 1.6-mile hike around the Blue Hole Trail, can you say unplug and unwind, I couldn't recommend visiting this magical place enough.

4. The Wimberley Valley Driftwood Estates Winery Experience

Later in the evening, we headed to the Driftwood Estates Winery which had a great wine varietal, and the winery hostesses were very friendly and helpful in explaining the various wines. The building garden areas and facilities were set perfectly on lush rolling acres of surrounding vineyards with the cutest donkeys and little ponies—and the passing burros, longhorns, double decker English buses which added to the atmosphere, just perfect. Plan your to make a reservation in advanced and soak up the experience of tasting and exploring, a must-go winery!

3. The Wimberly Zipline Adventures Experience

After a sound sleep under the moon and stars, we woke up the next morning with one thing on our mind, the last and final stop on our Getaway weekend-adventure (and arguably most favorite) which included soaring over 10-miles of breathtaking views of Wimberley Valley creeks and canyons, absolutely a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Another must-go, you'll learn about the local ecosystem of plants and wildlife, local history, and other interesting Wimberley area facts. By the end of our tour, I was bursting with adrenaline and excitement. We had so much fun, and I must say I can't wait for our next weekend escape!

2. Disconnect to Reconnect

We got back home late after a late dinner following the ziplining, we were so exhausted but honestly I would not trade a great experience for anything else in the world. It's nice to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with nature. I was so happy with my stay and how clean and cozy the cabins were. If you haven't had the chance to Getaway, then what are you waiting for!

1. Experience Your First Getaway

If you're looking for a safe, clean, and rejuvenating place to both relax and have an adventure, whether with your partner or friends, I'd highly recommend Getaway.

Plan Your Escape With Getaway! Book One Month In Advance And Take $20 Off Your Fall Adventure With The Code FALL20!

It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!