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Elizabeth Short stayed at Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles in September 1946.

The Black Dahlia’s Los Angeles, mapped

Elizabeth Short lived fast and died too young in postwar LA

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Elizabeth Short stayed at Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles in September 1946.

Contrary to popular belief, the Black Dahlia’s Los Angeles was far from glamorous. The landscape Elizabeth Short navigated in the postwar city was desperate, crude, and precarious. There is also little to no evidence that the Massachusetts native vied for Hollywood stardom, as has been popularized in multiple accounts.

“The biggest myth is that she’s a starlet who failed to make it in Hollywood,” says Kim Cooper, who runs the popular, long-running Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour with husband and Esotouric business partner Richard Schave. “You can’t read anything about this case without someone throwing out that lazy line, ‘Oh, a Hollywood wannabe, a would-be actress, failed startlet.’ And she, as far as we’ve been able to determine, never expressed any interest in acting. Never signed up to even be an extra.”

Regardless of the truth, the upcoming TNT limited series I Am the Night has stoked the legend even further. Starring Chris Pine as a disgraced journalist who comes to suspect wealthy doctor George Hodel (Jefferson Mays) of Short’s murder, the 1965-set series is based on Fauna Hodel’s 2008 memoir One Day She’ll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel.

Fauna (played by India Eisley) is the lost young woman at the center of this particular narrative, but the Black Dahlia legend looms large over the series. George Hodel has in recent years become the most popular suspect in the 72-year-old slaying thanks to his son Steve’s bestselling 2003 true-crime book Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, which pegs his late father as the killer. Despite its grip on the popular imagination, Steve’s theory has been disputed in some quarters, and the mystery surrounding Short’s death seems likely to endure.

Putting aside the endless rumors and half-baked theories, this map is focused on illuminating the real Elizabeth Short by highlighting a few of the confirmed places where she lived and played in the City of Angels.

True to the outsized myth that has eclipsed the woman herself, Short apparently frequented every major nightclub, hotel, and restaurant left standing from that era, making it impossible to include them all. While a couple of notable unconfirmed locations are incorporated (“Please don’t say she was at the Cecil Hotel!” Cooper mock-begs), the majority are locales she was reliably placed at either by those who knew her or from official records.

Note: Some of the locations listed are private residences. Please be respectful.

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1. Washington Hotel

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53 Linden Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802

After bouncing from Massachussetts to California to Florida over the previous few years, Short finally landed in Los Angeles sometime in 1946. Her first known residence in the greater metropolitan area was this downtown Long Beach hotel, where she was put up for roughly two weeks by Gordon Fickling, an Army Air Force lieutenant. “He was probably living on the military base, but he got her an apartment for awhile,” says Cooper, who indicates the two were romantically involved. “I think it might have been like a short-term hotel, beach hotel type place.”

While the building at 53 Linden Avenue still exists, the neighboring drugstore where customers dubbed Short the “Black Dahlia” (a play on the 1946 film The Blue Dahlia) due to her jet-black hair and habit of wearing black clothing, is unfortunately long gone.

Short’s first known residence in LA was at the Washington Hotel in downtown Long Beach.

2. John Marshall High School

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3939 Tracy St
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 671-1400
Visit Website

The surviving images from Short’s amateur photo shoot at this oft-filmed high school in Los Feliz have long fed the idea of her supposed Hollywood aspirations. But Cooper says the casual nature of the photographs suggests Short was merely having a little fun.

“She’s posing in the way that a pretty woman would pose, not the way that a would-be actress would pose,” she says. “They’re not closeups... they’re landscape shots. She’s in the environment. If you look at images, for example, of Marilyn Monroe when she was first starting out... it’s much more she is the centerpiece of that photo. And that’s the kind of photograph that you might show to an agency.”

Short posed for photos outside this high school in Los Feliz.

3. Florentine Gardens

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5951 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 464-0706
Visit Website

Short crashed for a short time in a residence located behind Hollywood’s Florentine Gardens nightclub, both owned by wealthy businessman (and confirmed lothario) Mark Hansen.

“My sense is that it was like a bungalow, house-type thing which had a number of bedrooms,” says Cooper. “It was just sort of a backstage area [where] the women who worked at the Gardens hung out and watched television.” Short was fond of hanging out in Hollywood’s trendiest night spots, so it’s assumed she spent time inside the Gardens, which opened in 1938 and was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann.

Short lived in a bungalow behind this nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard.

4. Boardner's by La Belle

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1652 N Cherokee Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-9621
Visit Website

It has been incorrectly claimed that Short enjoyed her final drink at this historic nightspot before disappearing into the night. Nonetheless, the club’s proximity to some of her short-term Hollywood residences means she likely spent at least some time here. “If you want to get a sense of Beth Short’s Hollywood, absolutely, you go to the Frolic Room, you go to Miceli’s, you go to Boardner’s, you go to Musso and Frank,” says Cooper of the remaining Hollywood landmarks from that era.

According to Cooper, the office of Short’s gynecologist (and one-time suspect) Dr. Arthur McGinnis Faught was located on the second floor of the same building as Boardner’s.

“If you want to get a sense of Beth Short’s Hollywood, absolutely, you go to the Frolic Room, you go to Miceli’s, you go to Boardner’s.”

5. Hotel Figueroa

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939 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(866) 734-6018
Visit Website

In September 1946, Short stayed for a brief period in this now-revamped hotel that opened in 1926 as a safe haven for solo women travelers. It is here where she engaged in a brief affair with an unidentified U.S. Army soldier, an episode that was outlined in Short’s FBI file.

Short stayed at Hotel Figueroa in 1946 with an Army soldier.

6. Tom Breneman’s Restaurant

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1539 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

An 800 Degrees Pizzeria and a Kabuki Japanese Restaurant now occupy the site of the former Tom Breneman’s, a popular eatery that hosted broadcasts of the eponymous host’s wildly-popular radio series Breakfast in Hollywood. According to the soldier whom Short met at the Figueroa, she was well-known enough by the Breneman’s staff to skip the line when the two stopped there for dinner.

7. CBS Columbia Square

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6121 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Like so many LA newcomers, Short apparently enjoyed attending live tapings of broadcast shows, which, in those days, entailed a trip to CBS Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard. “Different people who socialized with her talked about going to CBS to see broadcasted radio shows,” says Cooper. Designed by architect William Lescaze and completed in 1937, the building was recently renovated and now hosts the members-only co-working space NeueHouse Hollywood.

Short apparently enjoyed attending live tapings of broadcast shows, which, in those days, entailed a trip to CBS Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard.

8. Guardian Arms Apartments

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5217 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

For a brief period in October 1946, Short “crashed on a couch” at the Guardian Arms, a former hotel built in 1928. The historic El Adobe Market, which is located next door, would have been standing at the time of her stay.

Short “crashed on a couch” at the Guardian Arms.

9. Chancellor Apartments

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1842 N Cherokee Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

This anonymous apartment building on Cherokee (once known as the Chancellor) is one of Short’s final known residences. While there, she shared a unit with several other women “who were all living in bunk beds,” says Cooper.

Short also stayed at this apartment building on Cherokee Avenue.

10. Millennium Biltmore Hotel

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506 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 624-1011
Visit Website

Short left LA sometime in the late fall of 1946 for San Diego, where she ended up briefly rooming with the family of a woman she met at an all-night movie theater. When Short returned to Los Angeles on January 9, it was in the company of Robert “Red” Manley, a young (and married) traveling salesman who had picked her up on a San Diego street corner.

The story from here grows convoluted. Suffice it to say, after dropping Short’s luggage at a nearby Greyhound station, Short and Manley landed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, where Short claimed to be meeting her sister (a lie in order to shake her would-be paramour). In an apparent attempt at chivalry, Manley refused to leave Short’s side until her sister arrived, only relenting after waiting with her for several hours in the hotel’s ornate lobby.

When Short finally departed the Biltmore, the Downtown streets were dark and more dangerous, particularly for a young woman alone. “If [Manley had] just dropped her at the Greyhound station, she would’ve been alone in daylight, she would’ve done something different,” says Cooper. “Maybe she wouldn’t have died.”

The Biltmore was one of the last places Short visited before her death.
By Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

11. Crown Grill

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429 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-5950
Visit Website

Multiple eyewitnesses claim to have spotted Short at this now-defunct bar and restaurant on the night of January 9, which would make it the last place she was seen alive. Located at Eighth and Olive, the venue’s reputation as a gay nightspot made it the perfect place for clandestine meetings with a secret lover. It is believed Short accompanied friend and sometime-roommate Ann Toth here on dates with Toth’s married boyfriend. Says Cooper: “If you don’t want to be seen by your wife or any of her friends, or you don’t want anyone to say anything, you go to a gay bar Downtown.”

To get a feel for what the Crown Grill may have been like, Cooper suggests dining at the Italian restaurant Colori Kitchen, which is located on the site of the former establishment (along with a Dunkin Donuts and dive bar Ham & Eggs).

Multiple eyewitnesses claim to have spotted Short at Crown Grill, a bar that’s now home to an Italian restaurant.

12. John Sowden House

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5121 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Ever since Steve Hodel claimed that his father killed Short in the basement of this brooding, Lloyd Wright-designed Mayan Revival home at 5121 Franklin Avenue, it has become a focal point of the Black Dahlia mythology. Cooper understands why it took hold in the public imagination, even if she doesn’t buy into Hodel’s theory. “The notion of there are these things that go on behind the walls in all of these big Hollywood estates, there is a certain glamour to that,” she says. “But it’s also [about] the power of the wealthy to hide things.”

Sowden House
The Sowden House has become a focal point of the Black Dahlia mythology.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels

13. Body found

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3825 S Norton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008

On the morning on January 15, 1947, Short’s bisected body was discovered by local resident Betty Bersinger in a grassy, vacant lot in Leimert Park located at what is now 3825 Norton Avenue. As Cooper notes, the careful positioning of the corpse in a residential neighborhood was clearly designed to terrorize Angelenos.

“A more typical crime of that time, you know, a woman may be taken somewhere remote and be killed and abandoned, that’s not what happened to her,” says Cooper. “The body was left in the most prominent place imaginable. Somebody who put the body there knew that people walked the sidewalks and that she would be found.”

Short’s body was found in Leimert Park, at what is now 3825 Norton Avenue.

14. Herald Examiner Building

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146 W 11th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

While Short herself likely never entered the headquarters of Hearst-owned newspapers the Los Angeles Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald-Express (which later merged to form the Herald Examiner), the papers were key players in reporting early developments in the case. “That’s where the majority of the investigation done by the media was happening,” says Cooper. “They devoted more energy to figuring out who she was than anyone.”

The Herald Examiner building, which is undergoing a renovation.
By Patrick Lee

15. Dr. Walter Bayley residence

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3959 S Norton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008

As documented in his extensive blog, former LA Times columnist Larry Harnisch pegs LA surgeon Dr. Walter Bayley as the most likely suspect in Short’s murder. Harnisch backs up his theory by citing a number of compelling factors, including Bayley’s career as a prominent surgeon; his deteriorating mental state around the time of Short’s murder; a home address located just one block from where Short’s body was discovered; and, most pertinently, a connection to Short through his daughter Barbara Lindgren (an apparent acquaintance of Short’s sister Virginia). Additionally, his private practice was located at 1052 West 6th Street, only a few blocks from the Biltmore Hotel.

Harnisch is currently writing a book on the case.

Dr. Walter Bayley, who lived on Norton Avenue, was deemed a likely suspect by an LA Times columnist.

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1. Washington Hotel

53 Linden Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802
Short’s first known residence in LA was at the Washington Hotel in downtown Long Beach.

After bouncing from Massachussetts to California to Florida over the previous few years, Short finally landed in Los Angeles sometime in 1946. Her first known residence in the greater metropolitan area was this downtown Long Beach hotel, where she was put up for roughly two weeks by Gordon Fickling, an Army Air Force lieutenant. “He was probably living on the military base, but he got her an apartment for awhile,” says Cooper, who indicates the two were romantically involved. “I think it might have been like a short-term hotel, beach hotel type place.”

While the building at 53 Linden Avenue still exists, the neighboring drugstore where customers dubbed Short the “Black Dahlia” (a play on the 1946 film The Blue Dahlia) due to her jet-black hair and habit of wearing black clothing, is unfortunately long gone.

53 Linden Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802

2. John Marshall High School

3939 Tracy St, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Short posed for photos outside this high school in Los Feliz.

The surviving images from Short’s amateur photo shoot at this oft-filmed high school in Los Feliz have long fed the idea of her supposed Hollywood aspirations. But Cooper says the casual nature of the photographs suggests Short was merely having a little fun.

“She’s posing in the way that a pretty woman would pose, not the way that a would-be actress would pose,” she says. “They’re not closeups... they’re landscape shots. She’s in the environment. If you look at images, for example, of Marilyn Monroe when she was first starting out... it’s much more she is the centerpiece of that photo. And that’s the kind of photograph that you might show to an agency.”

3939 Tracy St
Los Angeles, CA 90027

3. Florentine Gardens

5951 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Short lived in a bungalow behind this nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard.

Short crashed for a short time in a residence located behind Hollywood’s Florentine Gardens nightclub, both owned by wealthy businessman (and confirmed lothario) Mark Hansen.

“My sense is that it was like a bungalow, house-type thing which had a number of bedrooms,” says Cooper. “It was just sort of a backstage area [where] the women who worked at the Gardens hung out and watched television.” Short was fond of hanging out in Hollywood’s trendiest night spots, so it’s assumed she spent time inside the Gardens, which opened in 1938 and was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann.

5951 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

4. Boardner's by La Belle

1652 N Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
“If you want to get a sense of Beth Short’s Hollywood, absolutely, you go to the Frolic Room, you go to Miceli’s, you go to Boardner’s.”

It has been incorrectly claimed that Short enjoyed her final drink at this historic nightspot before disappearing into the night. Nonetheless, the club’s proximity to some of her short-term Hollywood residences means she likely spent at least some time here. “If you want to get a sense of Beth Short’s Hollywood, absolutely, you go to the Frolic Room, you go to Miceli’s, you go to Boardner’s, you go to Musso and Frank,” says Cooper of the remaining Hollywood landmarks from that era.

According to Cooper, the office of Short’s gynecologist (and one-time suspect) Dr. Arthur McGinnis Faught was located on the second floor of the same building as Boardner’s.

1652 N Cherokee Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

5. Hotel Figueroa

939 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Short stayed at Hotel Figueroa in 1946 with an Army soldier.

In September 1946, Short stayed for a brief period in this now-revamped hotel that opened in 1926 as a safe haven for solo women travelers. It is here where she engaged in a brief affair with an unidentified U.S. Army soldier, an episode that was outlined in Short’s FBI file.

939 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

6. Tom Breneman’s Restaurant

1539 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028

An 800 Degrees Pizzeria and a Kabuki Japanese Restaurant now occupy the site of the former Tom Breneman’s, a popular eatery that hosted broadcasts of the eponymous host’s wildly-popular radio series Breakfast in Hollywood. According to the soldier whom Short met at the Figueroa, she was well-known enough by the Breneman’s staff to skip the line when the two stopped there for dinner.

1539 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

7. CBS Columbia Square

6121 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Short apparently enjoyed attending live tapings of broadcast shows, which, in those days, entailed a trip to CBS Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard.

Like so many LA newcomers, Short apparently enjoyed attending live tapings of broadcast shows, which, in those days, entailed a trip to CBS Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard. “Different people who socialized with her talked about going to CBS to see broadcasted radio shows,” says Cooper. Designed by architect William Lescaze and completed in 1937, the building was recently renovated and now hosts the members-only co-working space NeueHouse Hollywood.

6121 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

8. Guardian Arms Apartments

5217 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Short “crashed on a couch” at the Guardian Arms.

For a brief period in October 1946, Short “crashed on a couch” at the Guardian Arms, a former hotel built in 1928. The historic El Adobe Market, which is located next door, would have been standing at the time of her stay.

5217 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

9. Chancellor Apartments

1842 N Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Short also stayed at this apartment building on Cherokee Avenue.

This anonymous apartment building on Cherokee (once known as the Chancellor) is one of Short’s final known residences. While there, she shared a unit with several other women “who were all living in bunk beds,” says Cooper.

1842 N Cherokee Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

10. Millennium Biltmore Hotel

506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
The Biltmore was one of the last places Short visited before her death.
By Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

Short left LA sometime in the late fall of 1946 for San Diego, where she ended up briefly rooming with the family of a woman she met at an all-night movie theater. When Short returned to Los Angeles on January 9, it was in the company of Robert “Red” Manley, a young (and married) traveling salesman who had picked her up on a San Diego street corner.

The story from here grows convoluted. Suffice it to say, after dropping Short’s luggage at a nearby Greyhound station, Short and Manley landed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, where Short claimed to be meeting her sister (a lie in order to shake her would-be paramour). In an apparent attempt at chivalry, Manley refused to leave Short’s side until her sister arrived, only relenting after waiting with her for several hours in the hotel’s ornate lobby.

When Short finally departed the Biltmore, the Downtown streets were dark and more dangerous, particularly for a young woman alone. “If [Manley had] just dropped her at the Greyhound station, she would’ve been alone in daylight, she would’ve done something different,” says Cooper. “Maybe she wouldn’t have died.”

506 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071

11. Crown Grill

429 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Multiple eyewitnesses claim to have spotted Short at Crown Grill, a bar that’s now home to an Italian restaurant.

Multiple eyewitnesses claim to have spotted Short at this now-defunct bar and restaurant on the night of January 9, which would make it the last place she was seen alive. Located at Eighth and Olive, the venue’s reputation as a gay nightspot made it the perfect place for clandestine meetings with a secret lover. It is believed Short accompanied friend and sometime-roommate Ann Toth here on dates with Toth’s married boyfriend. Says Cooper: “If you don’t want to be seen by your wife or any of her friends, or you don’t want anyone to say anything, you go to a gay bar Downtown.”

To get a feel for what the Crown Grill may have been like, Cooper suggests dining at the Italian restaurant Colori Kitchen, which is located on the site of the former establishment (along with a Dunkin Donuts and dive bar Ham & Eggs).

429 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

12. John Sowden House

5121 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Sowden House
The Sowden House has become a focal point of the Black Dahlia mythology.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels

Ever since Steve Hodel claimed that his father killed Short in the basement of this brooding, Lloyd Wright-designed Mayan Revival home at 5121 Franklin Avenue, it has become a focal point of the Black Dahlia mythology. Cooper understands why it took hold in the public imagination, even if she doesn’t buy into Hodel’s theory. “The notion of there are these things that go on behind the walls in all of these big Hollywood estates, there is a certain glamour to that,” she says. “But it’s also [about] the power of the wealthy to hide things.”

5121 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

13. Body found

3825 S Norton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Short’s body was found in Leimert Park, at what is now 3825 Norton Avenue.

On the morning on January 15, 1947, Short’s bisected body was discovered by local resident Betty Bersinger in a grassy, vacant lot in Leimert Park located at what is now 3825 Norton Avenue. As Cooper notes, the careful positioning of the corpse in a residential neighborhood was clearly designed to terrorize Angelenos.

“A more typical crime of that time, you know, a woman may be taken somewhere remote and be killed and abandoned, that’s not what happened to her,” says Cooper. “The body was left in the most prominent place imaginable. Somebody who put the body there knew that people walked the sidewalks and that she would be found.”

3825 S Norton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008

14. Herald Examiner Building

146 W 11th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
The Herald Examiner building, which is undergoing a renovation.
By Patrick Lee

While Short herself likely never entered the headquarters of Hearst-owned newspapers the Los Angeles Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald-Express (which later merged to form the Herald Examiner), the papers were key players in reporting early developments in the case. “That’s where the majority of the investigation done by the media was happening,” says Cooper. “They devoted more energy to figuring out who she was than anyone.”

146 W 11th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

15. Dr. Walter Bayley residence

3959 S Norton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Dr. Walter Bayley, who lived on Norton Avenue, was deemed a likely suspect by an LA Times columnist.

As documented in his extensive blog, former LA Times columnist Larry Harnisch pegs LA surgeon Dr. Walter Bayley as the most likely suspect in Short’s murder. Harnisch backs up his theory by citing a number of compelling factors, including Bayley’s career as a prominent surgeon; his deteriorating mental state around the time of Short’s murder; a home address located just one block from where Short’s body was discovered; and, most pertinently, a connection to Short through his daughter Barbara Lindgren (an apparent acquaintance of Short’s sister Virginia). Additionally, his private practice was located at 1052 West 6th Street, only a few blocks from the Biltmore Hotel.

Harnisch is currently writing a book on the case.

3959 S Norton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90008