Rob Spoor opens a binder containing 20 pages of notes. “Do you believe in ghosts?” I ask. He flips through the pages, “Yes. Look at all this evidence.”

He is the go-to guy for ghostly encounters within the confines of which is City Hall.

Once a year (and only once a year!), San Francisco City Guides offers a free ghost tour of City Hall. Normally, when I hear the words “city walks” or “tour”, it brings up apathetic memories of sheer boredom during class trips to art museums and visits to the houses of deceased senators. So being a nerd of the paranormal, I wanted to get a sneak preview of the tour to determine if it’s legit.

Rob Spoor conjured up the idea of a ghost tour after many years of hosting regular City Hall tours, and hearing time after time, spooked stories from the night watchmen, deputy sheriffs, and maintenance workers of City Hall. You know, the stereotypical skeptics? Yeah, they’re now believers.

So Rob decided to throw out all that boring architecture mumbo-jumbo, dim the lights, and tell stories of regular people experiencing scary things. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s some famous haunts and disembodied voices and inappropriate touching that’s … unnerving. As he told me about the cases, we sat on a bench in a hallway where some of the ghosts like to wander. I made sure to watch my back, and my ears were open to possible whispers and moans. Sadly, nothing happened.

But once, Rob brought in a friend who was a psychic and knew nothing of the history of San Francisco or City Hall. He became quite agitated in the area in front of the Mayor’s office, and asked to leave the building entirely. And no, he wasn’t being forced to sign a marriage license.

Rob also hosts the newer ghost tour at the Palace Hotel. When asked which tour was his favorite, his response was basically “that’s like asking which of your children are your favorite?”. Which I can totally relate because I can never decide what kind of haunt is my favorite. Much like the difference between a Poltergeist and a Residual: City Hall offers up assassinations and cemeteries, while at the Palace Hotel — gunshots and tragic romances.

A typical City Guide tour gets around 2 dozen people but the ghost tours get 200 to 250! I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this before. This is something not to be missed.

Responses from the crowd have ranged from gasps, shrieks, and spontaneous graying of the hair. So bring your best imagination. And yes, these haunts seem legit.

When: City Hall Ghost Tour, Monday, October 26th, 6:30pm; Palace Hotel Ghost Tour, Friday, October 30th, 6:30pm

Cost: Free

For more information on these, and other amazing sounding tours, visit their website at

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