Hollywood celebs are not the only famous figures in Los Angeles. These infamous tales of murder and ghosts will leave you sleepless and astonished.
Murder House in Los Feliz
In December 1959, a grisly tragedy, reported by the LA Times and Medium, forever altered the fate of a grand hillside mansion. Having brutally bludgeoned his wife to death and left his 18-year-old daughter to barely escape, Harold Perelson, a heart specialist who owned the house, chugged a glass of poison. He instantly fell next to his wife’s bloody corpse with the lethal hammer in his hand. The 12-room Spanish Revival-style mansion was then acquired by a Lincoln Heights couple and inherited by their son, but none of them lived in the house or made the slightest change to it, thus embalming the murder setting for nearly 60 years. Visitors today can still find vintage packaged SpaghettiOs in the kitchen and unopened Christmas presents piled under the Christmas tree. Paranormal noises and movements in the house are no surprise; come and feel yourself the suffocating and hair-rising ambiance.
Just because ghost stories on The Queen Mary have been commercialized for group tours and séances, doesn’t mean that the ghosts do not demand respect. In fact, some parts of the magnificent ferry ship have been closed due to frequent reports of ghostly encounters and odd sounds of strangling, rickety chains. Now a floating hotel housing world-class restaurants, the British ferry used to shelter ambitious or hopeless soldiers in the World War II across the Atlantic, and apparently spirits lost at sea. One in particular was the boy John Henry, who labored on board illegally due to his young age. While fleeing from a fire in Engine Room 13, he was hit by falling objects and died. The engine room door is still sometimes hot to the touch, and smoke and screams can be heard from the room.
Originally a private art museum, Yamashiro Hollywood has the architecture of a resplendent palace. With such grandeur, the Japanese restaurant is a great attraction for supernatural spirits. Many ghostly encounters have been reported, but the ghosts, perhaps influenced by the serenity of the architecture, are relatively friendly and their stories are less gruesome. At the bar, you may have the luck to be served by the phantom bartender. A weeping bride in white is said to accompany the frequently held weddings. At the top of Sycamore Avenue, the restaurant also has one of the best views of the city.
The Feliz curse on Griffith Park is like the high school cheerleader of Los Angeles ghost stories: popular, involving a social celebrity, and scheduled for seasonal comebacks every Halloween. The park was originally called Rancho Los Feliz, 6000 acres owned by Maria Verdugo. The wealthy lady passed the majority of the estate to her son on her deathbed, who soon died of small pox. His 17-year-old niece, Doña Petronilla, who should have inherited the estate, was cheated out of the will by family friend Antonio Coronel. The beloved girl was infuriated and dropped a curse of death and affliction on the land and all its future owners. The curse has manifested on almost all of the estate’s owners, including Griffith J. Griffith, the famous philanthropist who died of liver disease after serving in prison for shooting his wife in the face and disfiguring her. Today, some say they have seen the ghost of Doña Petronilla in a white dress riding on horseback, patrolling the park.
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Those intrepid enough to sneak into the abandoned Ranchos Los Amigos Hospital have brought back eerie tales — an open book flung on the floor with Satanist content, the scattered medical files, the dilapidated and seemingly burned building parts… None of these compares to the frozen, amputated body parts discovered by the Marines during their military exercise at the facility in 2006. Abruptly shut down in the ’80s, the hospital was originally ‘County Poor Farm,’ a general hospital for the disabled, the poor, and the mentally ill. In its day, the hospital has wept for the Spanish influenza epidemic, the Long Beach earthquake trauma, and wounded World War II soldiers. The mummified feet, legs, and brain matter were found in a morgue, simply forgotten. No wonder the spirits haven’t been able to walk toward their peaceful rest.
If you ever wanted to live the American Horror Story, now you can. The murder house, which is the primary stage for the first season of the stomach-clenching show, is now available for rent on Airbnb, although Evan Peters, a recurrent face on the TV series, said himself that he would never want to live there. Buried among some of the richest residences on the West Coast, the grim Victorian mansion outshines them with a panorama of large-scale, individually designed Tiffany glasses, exquisite Italian woodwork, and a stately semi-circular library. It is named after its first owner, German-American architect Alfred Rosenheim. Although the ghost of a Frankenstein doctor is certainly not present, the house has many tales to tell and, according to Peters, made scary noises when the crew were shooting there.
As the setting of the films Gone with the Windand Raging Bull, the Culver Studios can still be proud of its own drama and wind-riding angel. The mansion was built in 1918 by the silent movie pioneer Thomas Ince, with an immaculate white façade and a massive green lawn. Ince died six years later on the yacht of newspaper magnate William Hearst, during his birthday celebration. Rumor has it that Ince was collateral damage of Hearst’s revenge on Charlie Chaplin, whom Hearst caught playing around with his lover Marion Davies, an untalented actress for whom Hearst launched Cosmopolitan Productions. The death was reported plainly in Hearst’s San Diego Sun as caused by a heart attack, but witnesses disagreed. Today, people have seen Ince’s ghost strolling and working in his studios, and some have even heard him criticizing the studio management.
Nicknamed ‘the Suicide Bridge,’ the bridge connecting Pasadena to Los Angeles is where over a hundred people have committed suicide. Incidents were frequent in the 1930s, when many found the bridge as the easy way out from the Great Depression. Many spirits have been seen on the bridge, including a man wearing glasses and a mother searching for her baby girl, whom she threw off the bridge before jumping herself. Another story says that 150 feet below the bridge, a ghost man whispers ‘her fault’ into the ears of those unfortunate enough to encounter him. The bridge became much safer after it was renovated in 1993, when it had a suicide barrier added. Even if you don’t meet any of the ghosts, you will still get a gorgeous view from the bridge.
You may not know the Stay On Main Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, but sure you’ve heard of the viral Elisa Lam video, and your finger trembled when it hovered above the play button. Because of the powerful spook factor, the hotel, originally called The Cecil Hotel, had to be renamed. The 2013 video is the last place where Elisa Lam, a Canadian tourist staying at the hotel, was seen alive: she ran around in the elevator frantically, coiled in the corners, and hit all the buttons, as if she was escaping from some invisible person. Half a month later, hotel guests reported weak water pressure, leading to the discovery of Lam’s decomposing body in the hotel’s water tank. The coroner ruled suicide, but is it a coincidence that the hotel has housed serial killers Richard Ramirez and Jack Weger, both actively killing while residing in the hotel? We leave that for the ghost hunters to find out.
Neglected hospitals always make a good setting for paranormal activities. Built by the Santa Fe Railroad Company for its own employees, the hospital business declined along with the railroad industry. The generously equipped and beautiful hospital started treating victims of gang and drug-related violence, cut staff, and finally shut down, although urban legends are still alive. One story says that a doctor’s ghost lingers in the hospital after a violent gang killed him, for he failed to save one of its members. Besides the legends, the peeling paint, rotting walls, and dingy, writing-covered rooms may already be more twisted and unnerving than you can bear.