It shouldn’t come as much of surprise that Los Angeles, with its glitzy, sordid past, has seen some sh*t. And that can cause some unruly spirits. There are many LA ghost stories, from celebrities haunting their former residences to parks plagued with the ghosts of dead lovers. Let’s just say that restless souls love this place.
This list includes stories of famous LA hauntings, some of them spawned by infamous crimes. Hollywood has been kind to a few, but many others aren’t so lucky. The pursuit of fame can take a serious toll. For all the people who have succeeded in Hollywood, there are thousands more who haven’t. The real tales behind these Los Angeles ghost stories run the gamut from desperation to success, just like the city itself.
The Cecil Hotel
This place is so terrifying that an entire season of American Horror Story was based around its lore. Two serial killers (Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. the Nightstalker, and Jack Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer who murdered women in multiple countries) spent time at the Cecil Hotel. In fact, Unterweger killed three people while he was staying there.
But that’s not even close to the whole story of why the Cecil is so creepy. In 2013, a guest of the hotel named Elisa Lam went missing. More than fifteen days later, patrons of the hotel began complaining that the water coming from the taps and showers was discolored and tasted funny. A maintenance worker went to check the hotel’s rooftop water tank, and guess what he found inside of it? The body of Elisa Lam, which had been in there for, you guessed it, more than fifteen days. There’s even creepy security camera footage from the night she disappeared, showing what appears to be her talking to someone who the camera can’t see—or isn’t there at all. The police ruled her death an accidental drowning, but many people believe she was murdered.
The Cecil moved most of the guests staying there at the time to a different hotel, but 11 people chose to stay. They had to sign a waiver acknowledging the health risks of using the contaminated water, which begs the question, if water contaminated by a decomposing dead body couldn’t get these people to move to a new hotel—free of charge, I might add—then what would?
The hotel has recently rebranded itself as The Stay on Main to try and shake its creepy image, but it’s probably a safe bet that there’s more than one ghost still haunting its halls.
Rancho Los Amigos Hospital
There were several facilities that made up the Rancho Los Amigos hospital, though only the main hospital is still operational. But the grounds used to hold a dairy farm and a mental institution as well, which have since been abandoned. And oh boy, is the abandoned mental hospital scary. In 2006, some Marines who were using the empty building for practice drills found body parts, including legs, feet, and pieces of brains in a freezer in the morgue. Who knows how long those had been down there? And who knows how haunted that terrifying place must be?
By the way, in case you’re wondering what that creepy picture up above is, it’s the hospital’s old iron lung ward. Just normal hospital stuff, NBD.
The Colorado Street Bridge
Over 100 people have jumped to their deaths from Pasadena’s Colorado Street bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1912, is known as “the suicide bridge.” Several ghosts now haunt it. Supposedly, you can see a woman in a white flowing robe jump to her death. Homeless people who live under the bridge have heard someone—or something—whispering “your fault.” And then there’s Myrtle Ward, a woman who committed suicide and attempted to kill her three-year-old daughter. Ward threw her daughter off the bridge and then jumped. She died, but her daughter’s fall was broken by thick trees, and she survived. Some people claim they have seen her walking the bridge, looking for the daughter she was never reunited with in the afterlife.
You probably know Elizabeth Short by another name: the Black Dahlia. Her ghost purportedly haunts the Millenium Biltmore Hotel, the last place she was seen alive before she was murdered. Guests have seen a black, ladylike figure floating down the 10th- and 11th-floor hallways.