The 6 Most Haunted Places in L.A.
Halloween is a spooky time but remember, ghosts and spirits don’t just get all active, vocal and visual at the end of October. There are haunted places in Los Angeles that you can visit all year round if you’re wanting that prickly cold feeling on the back of your neck—and we’re not talking air conditioning here, skeptics! From a creepy Airbnb to a spooky bridge featured in La La Land, and even a haunted mall (so L.A.!), here’s a little tour of haunted L.A.
1. Vintage Estate, La Cañada-Flintridge
When this castle-like home was built by ornithologist Robert Moore in 1929, the story goes that he hired different workers every day so that no one would learn his secrets (is birdwatching really that hush-hush, Mr. Moore?). He lived there until he died, on the day before Halloween in 1958, and some claim that his spirit still roams the halls. Ask your host about it if your stay there—using Airbnb, you can rent a suite that sleeps 5 guests in 4 beds for $150 per night. Just, maybe bring a nightlight.
2. Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena
Remember that romantic stroll that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling took across a sweet bridge in La La Land? Well, sorry for the buzz kill, but the expanse is popularly known as the Suicide Bridge, or more formally, the Colorado Street Bridge. It’s a splendidly arched Beaux-Arts style construction opened in 1913, distinctive because it’s curved in order to place more footing on solid ground over the Arroyo Seco. The bad vibes started during construction when a worker fell to his death, landing in the wet cement under the bridge. Then it became a frequent site of people jumping to their deaths, including a woman who threw her child off (it survived by landing in a tree) then followed (the mom perished). More recently, the site was featured in Lana Del Rey’s video Summertime Sadness (actor Jaimie King throws herself off—yikes).
3. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood
Of course, there would be celebrity ghosts in the Hollywood Roosevelt, Hollywood’s longest continually operating hotel, open since 1927. Such as Marilyn Monroe, who is said to appear in mirrors touching up her lipstick, and Montgomery Clift, who lived in the hotel and can be heard practicing his trumpet, or just appearing as a shadow against a wall where no shadow should be. The hotel was the location for the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, and one ghost is said to be that of a deceased actor who is reenacting showing up for the ceremony, hoping to win an award. Then there is the spirit who loves to play the piano, and another who locks people out of their rooms. And saddest of all, the 5-year-old girl who is said to roam the halls calling for her mother. It’s a lot—so maybe be sure to spend your days be the pool, famously painted with a pattern by artist David Hockney.
4. Pico House, Downtown
The first grand hotel in newly settled Southern California, Pico House was built in 1869 and named for Pio Pico, the successful businessman who was the last Mexican governor of Alta California. The construction was lavish, with 80 rooms, large windows and little inside courtyard and a grand staircase. It rose in the middle of a plaza where society’s elite mingled with Wild West outlaws and where brothels, gambling halls and saloons were the draw. Various workers at the place report mysterious footsteps and shadows at the hotel, which is now a municipal monument as part of El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument. But is the haunting from the long-dead governor Pico or is it from the Chinese massacre of 1871, a lesser-known and shameful period in history that’s one of the largest incidence of mass lynching in U.S. history? The massacre occurred on October 24, 1971, when a mob of 500 men came to Chinatown to attack the residents. This was allegedly an act of revenge for the killing of a local rancher who was caught between gunfire between two Chinese groups who had a longstanding feud over the abduction of a Chinese woman named Yut Ho. Horrifyingly, 18 Chinese men were hanged around the downtown business section, and the Chinese-owned buildings in the area were robbed. In the years after, the area’s fortunes boomed and went bust, and Pico House spent some time as a shabby rooming house. Then in 1953, it was deeded to the State of California, who maintains it today as a window into a sometimes savage history.
5. Old School House, Claremont
Back in the 1970s, the building housing the high school in the sleepy collegiate village of Claremont was deemed not up to the state’s earthquake code for students. So, Cali expansion and mall culture being what it is, the so-called Old School House was turned into a shopping center. While it’s been a long time since any teens were playing sports here, there are reports of a basketball-loving teen dribbling a ball near a cement staircase to the rear of the main building. Doors open and close on their own and there are strange cold currents of air that give shoppers the creeps. There’s also been stories of a young girl seeing another young girl crying in the corner of a shop, but when the parents looked they saw only an eerie mist. That does it—along with reports that some adjoining land is being developed into a subdivision with condos, we are definitely feeling spooky IRL Poltergeist scary Spielberg vibes.
6. Avila Adobe, Downtown
It makes sense that the oldest standing house in Los Angeles might have not just some old brickwork but also some old life force in situ. That’s the story told about Avila Adobe, the home of a ranchero named Francisco Avila who became mayor in 1810. According to the Annenberg Media Center at USC, the site’s history as homestead, hotel and later housing for troops reflects the many stages of development of our city. Today Francisco Avila is said to be looking over his impressive property’s place of honor in spirit form: He’s been seen inside the house, the courtyard and in front of the house, and his heavy boots clomping the floors has also been reported. Meanwhile, his second wife, Encarnación, has been seen in a rocking chair on the porch, and the sound of a woman wailing (presumed to be her) has emanated from the master bedroom. The crying has been interpreted as her immense sorrow over her husband’s death, although, if I saw 300,000 tourists walking through my home every year (the Avila Adobe is open to the public, and there’s a museum on site), I’d be wailing over what they are doing to my floors.