Los Angeles: it’s the city where artists of all backgrounds come to make their dreams a reality. Full of glamour and hope, the City of Angels is home to some of the most legendary icons, from Hollywood stars to historic landmarks like the Griffith Observatory and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Of course, every city has its story, and that story contains its darker sides.
LA is no stranger to mysterious happenings, and thus has some locales that will surely make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Whether its simply the eerie emptiness of a structure or the troubling history of the area itself, here are the places in Los Angeles that you’ll want to check out the next time you’re feeling like getting a little spooked.
1. Hawthorne Plaza Mall
One location that still has creepy remnants of the past is Torrances Hawthorne Plaza Mall, which closed down its doors officially to the public in 1999 and has remained a dead mall ever since. There’s no crazy ghost story that comes with the abandoned building, but what we find creepy about this ex-shoppers-paradise is merely the fact that the mall still remains very much intact, completely vacant and without a soul in sight. While the mall has served as a prime location for thriller films (Gone Girl, Minority Report, Teen Wolf) it is also a targeted spot for urban explorers, photographers, and adventurers (maybe you?). If you can get past a roaming security guard during the day, we will admit that the empty site itself is astonishing to see. Be prepared to get stunned by the ultimate beauty of this raw and empty urban decay.
2. The Silent Theater
For a ghostly delight, next time you decide to take your date out for a movie night, consider stopping by The Silent Theater. Opened in 1942 by original owner John Hampton, The Silent Theater was built in the hopes of bringing classic silent films back to the screen. Following many years of steady business, John Hampton dropped to his death via overexposure to the chemicals he used to restore his films. Shortly after, Lawrence Austin took over the theater, who also met his tragic death rather quickly. He was murdered in 1996 by his own business partner James Van Sickle and gunman Christian Rodriguez. Ever since his murder, it has been reported that Austin’s ghost still lingers around the lobby during after hours, and the original owner Hampton’s ghost can be seen walking on the second floor. Seriously spooky.
3. Griffith Park Abandoned Zoo
Lions, tigers, and bears—oh my! Or shall we say a lack thereof? Next time you’re over by Griffith Park, check out the abandoned zoo. This is a pretty frequented spot, but it’s definitely a cool site to explore.
The Old Zoo in Griffith Park is quite the place to truly surround yourself with the ghosts of LA’s past animals. Opened over a hundred years ago, the site was abandoned in 1965 when a larger zoo debuted a few miles away (AKA, the LA Zoo we know today). While it’s recognized now as a local landmark, the site comes complete with picnic benches for hikers, where you can sit and admire the eerie emptiness of what once was a bustling zoo. Try visiting the spot after the sun sets for a creepier ambience—with the history of ghosts lingering around Griffith Park and the combination of this deserted zoo, there’s no doubt you’ll get a case of the heebie jeebies.
4. Cecil Hotel
And what kind of list would this be without the mention of one of LA’s creepiest hotels? Cecil Hotel, now known as Stay on Main, had an early history of being the ultimate tourist destination for traveling businessmen and transients alike. However, the hotel grew a dark reputation for hosting some of the city’s most wanted murderers, mysterious deaths, and unexplained supernatural happenings.
How did this happen? To start, it was home to famous murderers Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger, who used the hotel as a slaughtering ground for their victims. The infamous hotel was also a spot for suicides and unexplained deaths, including the famous 2013 mysterious death of college student Elise Lam, whose body was found decomposing at the bottom of the hotel’s water tank after hotel residents complained about the water tasting funny. Though Cecil Hotel has since been renovated into a brand new boutique hotel, the building forever remains tainted with its dark history. If you want to test your luck, book a room at the hotel, but beware—you might wind up in a series of unfortunate events.
5. Nazi Compound Ruins—Murphy Ranch
If you want to get out and explore more abandoned sites, try hiking up to the Nazi Compound Ruins located in Murphy Ranch.
Originally built by Winona and Norman Stephens in the 1930s, the site was intended for Nazi activities and expected to be self-sustaining for a long period of time, featuring a full tank, a bomb shelter, and other outbuildings and bunkers. However, the day after Pearl Harbor, the compound was seized and many of its inhabitants were arrested. Ever since then, the area has remained untouched, giving it a ghoulish feel to anyone visiting. Though there aren’t any rumors of ghosts lingering around, or mysterious murders, the location and artwork surrounding the walls will remind you of the history of this place and will surely freak you out.
6. Rancho Los Amigos
Initially opened as the LA County Poor Farm in 1888 as a successful place of refuge for the elderly, mentally ill and disabled, it was eventually revamped and renamed Rancho Los Amigos, where it housed a working farm, post office, World War II army base, and zoo well into the 20th century. However, in the late ’80s, the center shut down, and has since remained an eerie apocalyptic-looking ghost town. The Ranch Los Amigos Hospital has gained nicknames like the Hollydale Mental Hospital and the Downey Insane Asylum, both of which play up this spooky location’s creepiness.
While there are roaming 24 hour security guards to prevent trespassers from exploring the deserted land, it hasn’t stopped some adventurers from finding a way in and living to tell the tale. Some have stated that this asylum is definitely haunted, while others are less convinced. Regardless, a visit to a location like this will definitely make you shiver, and not just because it’s cold.
[Featured image: Matthew Robinson via Flickr]