For such a young city, Los Angeles does quite a swift business in hauntings (maybe it’s the specter of the film industry?). It’s not just creaky old West Adams mansions that have ghosts either—pretty much every tourist spot is also said to host a spirit or two or 17. For Halloween, a collection of 20 such landmarks and their accompanying ghost stories, in handy map form. Enjoy/beware!Read More
LA’s haunted landmarks and their ghost stories, mapped
From the Colorado Street Bridge to the Hollywood Sign
TCL Chinese Theatre
Actor Victor Kilian, best known as the Fernwood Flasher on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, is said to haunt the forecourt at the Chinese. Kilian lived near the theater and was beaten to death in his home in 1979; some stories say it was burglars, others say he invited up a man from a nearby bar.
The Silent Movie Theatre
The Silent Movie Theatre is said to be haunted by the ghosts of its first two owners. John Hampton opened the theater in 1942 and dedicated his life to preserving silent films… using toxic chemicals that eventually gave him cancer. Lawrence Austin reopened the theater after Hampton’s death in the early nineties; in 1997, he was fatally shot in the lobby in a plot concocted by his lover/projectionist. Hampton is said to haunt the upstairs lounge while Austin covers the lobby.
The theater has at least two ghosts: a singing woman who's said to have died in the mezzanine in 1932 and the one and only Howard Hughes. Hughes’s RKO Pictures bought the Pantages in 1949 and he had offices on the second floor—employees over the years say they’ve seen his apparition there.
The Knickerbocker, now a senior living facility, might be one of the most haunted places in Los Angeles. It was built as an apartment building in 1925, then became a fancy hotel—Rudolph Valentino is now said to haunt the bar; Marilyn Monroe supposedly hangs out in the ladies' room; and there are lots of assorted other sightings. (And there’s plenty of other fodder: Director DW Griffith died in the lobby and actress Frances Farmer was arrested in the hotel on her way to insanity.) But it’s perhaps most notable for its non-haunting. After Harry Houdini’s death on Halloween 1926, his widow Bess attempted to contact him every year for 10 years with a seance on the roof of the Knickerbocker. No dice.
The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store’s building originally housed Ciro’s, a hot mob hangout in the ’40s and ’50s; now it’s said to be haunted by several hit men, as well as a woman who performed illegal abortions in the downstairs lounge and a woman who died getting one of those abortions.
Workers have reported all kinds of mysterious footsteps and shadows at the old hotel, which opened in 1870, but it's not clear who's haunting this place—could be Don Pio Pico, a Mexican governor who built the hotel, or it could be some of the many Chinese men massacred in the area in 1871.
Peg Entwistle is probably the most famous failed actress in Los Angeles history. Depressed by her lack of success, she jumped from the Hollywood Sign’s “H” to her death in September 1932. People have reported seeing a woman near the sign matching Entwistle’s description and dressed in period clothes; some people say they’ve seen a female figure actually making the jump.
Ghosts have been spotted in the Queen Mary's engine room (“Door 13” has crushed a couple of people to death), in the first class swimming pool (unused for decades, women have been spotted in 1930s bathing suits wandering the decks; people have also seen a young girl with a teddy bear), the second class swimming pool (another little girl who’s said to have drowned), the Queen’s Salon (a young woman in evening dress), and several of the first-class state rooms (a 1930s man, as well as lights, water running, phones ringing), and the third-class children's playroom (a baby crying).
Griffith Park is all kinds of haunted, dating back supposedly to the nineteenth century, when owner Don Antonio Feliz left the land to one Don Antonio Coronel instead of to his niece, Dona Petronilla Feliz. It’s said that industrialist and eventual owner Griffith J. Griffith donated the property to the city to rid himself of the tainted land (the ostriches on his ostrich farm there apparently stampeded at night). The land is supposedly haunted by Don Antonio Feliz, Dona Petronilla, Griffith J. Griffith, a young girl, and several others, as well as some kind of humanoid beast.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
The Roosevelt competes with the Knickerbocker for most celebrity hauntings. Marilyn Monroe supposedly appears in a full-length mirror from Suite 1200, where she stayed when she first started becoming famous; Montgomery Clift is said to hang out in and around room 928, where he lived while shooting From Here to Eternity. One psychic says he’s also detected Humphrey Bogart, Carmen Miranda, and Betty Grable. There’s also a cold spot in the Blossom Room (the first home of the Oscars), near where a dapperly-dressed ’30s-era man is said to hang around.
Dan Aykroyd was living here when he got the idea for Ghostbusters—he says he was inspired by the house’s extreme hauntedness (door locking, lights going on and off, a piano playing itself). The ghosts could be former occupants “Mama” Cass Elliot or Natalie Wood.
The Alexandria Hotel
The 1906 Alexandria, now low-income apartments, has been both one of the fanciest joints in Downtown and a rundown flophouse. Several dancers are said to haunt the second-floor ballroom, an angry teenager hangs around Charlie Chaplin's old suite, and Rudolph Valentino apparently leaves the Knickerbocker occasionally and visits his old 12th-floor suite. The basement, which is filled with tunnels, is supposedly haunted by a couple of mobsters, at least one of whom also likes to visit the Comedy Store.
Colorado Street Bridge
This 1912 bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco River was once part of Route 66, but has been known since the 1930s mostly for being the “Suicide Bridge.” It hosted its first jumper in 1919 and has seen at least 100 more since, many during the Great Depression (and there are still about 10 per year). Several ghosts supposedly haunt the bridge, including possibly a worker who fell into the concrete during construction.
The grand old department store (now a Southwest Law School building) is supposedly haunted by a little girl who was killed in an elevator shaft. There are also the usual lights going on and off and mysterious footsteps.
Los Angeles City Hall
There have been reports of ghosts in several areas of City Hall; the most famous is a nattily-dressed, old-fashioned gentleman who likes to disrupt City Council meetings and bother officials in the bathrooms.
Chavez Ravine is haunted by more than just the eerie specter of displaced poor people—it’s also said to have one or two actual ghosts, as well as a spooky mist.
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, was last seen alive at the Millenium Biltmore. Her ghost is said to have returned to haunt the lobby.
Filmmaker Thomas Ince founded what was then called Thomas H. Ince Studios in 1918. In 1924, he died aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht under some very mysterious circumstances (supposedly Hearst shot Ince thinking he was Charlie Chaplin, whom Hearst thought was having an affair with his mistress Marion Davies). Ince is now said to haunt his old studio.
Mission San Buenaventura
Every mission in California is said to be haunted, but only one has ghost cats! The lore goes that Father Francisco Uria kept four pet cats whom he loved so much that when he died, the “four cats solemnly marched to the chapel. Leaping to the rope of the chapel bell, they swung it back and forth, tolling out the mournful message that the padre was dead. Sometimes, you can still hear their cries and footsteps.
Stay on Main, formerly called Hotel Cecil, and soon to be called Ollie, is undergoing a big, trendy makeover. But no amount of paint can undo the building’s unsettling history as a den of drugs, death, and mystery. Among the creepiest things that have happened at the old hotel: Serial killers Richard “Nightstalker” Ramirez and Jack Unterweger stayed here and the decomposing body of a woman who had been missing for three weeks turned up in the water tower.