Officially, 16 people died in Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. That's not a high number. Yet, this facility inspired many urban legends and American Horror Story: Hotel. So, what is the story of this place? And how does it connects to the most significant issue in the City of Angels?
You probably heard about Elisa Lam's tragic death in Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles in 2013. The Elisa Lam story is strange, bizarre, and extremely unfortunate. The media also heavily covered it, creating an urban legend for the generations to come.
Cecil Hotel's history is spooky, and it goes hand in hand with one of the biggest communities of homeless people in the world. Glamourizing and mystifying the hotel and Elisa Lam's story are not helpful, but they satisfy our curiosity.
That's why we aim to explore what happened and how the puzzle of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles clashes with Hollywood dreams.
Recently, Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles became a housing facility for the less fortunate. This is a big step in rewriting legends that followed the hotel for almost a century.
Despite this twist of events, the rich, spooky story of the now-former Cecil Hotel puts it among the haunted places to visit in the USA, and it all started soon after it was built in 1924.
A Brief History Of Notorious Deaths In Cecil Hotel In Los Angeles
It was supposed to be a middle-class hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The historical site was built to serve businesspeople and tourists eager to enjoy the roaring 20s in the City of Angels.
Sadly, the Great Depression started, and homelessness became a burning issue in LA. The middle class was crushed, and the hotel, only a few blocks away from the Skid Row, followed.
Despite the marble lobby, stained-glass windows, palms, and alabaster sculpture, the hotel never got to have its glory days. Instead, it reflected the state of society, but it does not mean that some of the things that happened in the hotel were hard to explain.
The first suicide happened soon after Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles started working. On January 22, 1927, a 52-year-old man named Percy Ormond Cook committed suicide.
The subsequent confirmed death was in 1931. W. K. Norton poisoned himself at the age of 46. The next suicide happened in 1932, when Benjamin Dodich, 25, shot himself.
The hotel's history of suicides continued with Sgt. Louis D. Borden and two falls, Grace E. Magro and Roy Thompson.
In 1940, Dorothy Seger died by poisoning herself, but the pure horror happened when Dorothy Jean Purcell threw her newborn son through the window in 1944.
Cecil Hotel saw Black Dahlia days before her unsolved murder in 1947.
After five more suicides, the hotel became a crime scene again when "Pigeon" Goldie Osgood was raped and murdered in 1964. Though the suspect was arrested, he was soon released, and the death of the lady who fed the birds remains unsolved.
Before Elise Lam's death, two more people took their lives by jumping. After Lam, Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles suffered another alleged suicide in 2015.
The large, proud building stood tall as the area residents struggled with poverty, mental health, and real-life monsters.
Serial Killers Visiting Cecil Hotel In Los Angeles
For a hotel of 700 rooms and 19 floors, the number of suicides is not uncommon. But due to its location, it became a notorious place where drug addicts met their dealers, and sex workers took their clients.
Cecil Hotel, also known as the Stay on Main as of 2011, is located on Skid Row. It is one of the saddest places on the planet where homeless people go to exist. Of course, such poverty is connected to high crime rates.
As Kenneth Givens, former long-term resident said:
"It pretty much was lawless [back in the '80s]. Usually, the higher floors at the Cecil [was where] people used to get killed."
The police got called in one to three times each day. And yet, nothing was scarier than accommodating two serial killers: Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.
Richard Ramirez was also known as The Night Stalker. He was a rapist, murderer, and bulger in a Los Angeles area between June 1984 and August 1985.
The vicious serial killer, whose body count is 16 and up, stayed in Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles near the end of his reign of terror. Ramirez rented a room for 14 dollars per night and walked with "his bloodstained underwear barefoot up to his floor and into his room."
Jack Unterweger was an Austrian serial murderer and rapist whose slayings span from West Germany to the USA. He killed 12-15 women, though the number could be higher. He resided at the hotel during the summer of 1991.
The official number of people who died in Cecil Hotel/Stay on Main is 16. But, unofficially, reports say there were at least 80 victims, as a former manager called it "a hotbed for death."
As much as we are drawn to ghosts and the occult, there is a sense of enormous tragedy behind Cecil Hotel's history.
Elisa Lam In Cecil Hotel In Los Angeles
Skid Row is a tragedy, an untenable living situation, for over 10,000 people. It is the perfect reflection of what is on the other side of the coin, so close to the glamourous LA we see in the movies, yet worlds apart.
Despite Skid Row, the biggest mysteries of Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles are connected to the people who were not below the poverty line. Elisa Lam was a tourist who stayed in Stay on Main. Stay on Main and Cecil are the same place, with upgrades made to attract a younger population.
Elisa Lam's body was found in a water tank on February 19, 2013. Her death was ruled accidental, but this is one of those cases that will remain open in the publics' minds forever.
How did she get up there? Why was she without her clothes? Was the lid open or closed? Was it a suicide or something more sinister? And that elevator footage, what happened to Elise?
While there are things we will never learn, the truth is that her death brought a surge of tourists. The hotel, declared a Los Angeles landmark in 2017, inspired numerous stories, notably American Horror Story: Hotel.
But, let's not lose focus. Elisa Lam was not a puzzle but a person with mental health issues. Her tragedy sparks curiosity, just like all deaths in Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.
There is one story that might save another Elisa, and that's the truth, scarier than any story you might stumble upon online.
Cecil Hotel In Los Angeles Is Moving Forward
Here is the simple, terrifying truth. Cecil Hotel is a building, and Skid Row is an area. But these two spots are where people who lost all hope go to. And misery follows them.
Homeless people are not the issue, nor are the victims of murders or suicides. The real problem is that we are glorifying death, gore, and macabre as a form of entertainment.
The historic facility has reopened as an affordable housing complex in a new partnership between owner Richard Born and the Skid Row Housing Trust.
Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles is no longer a hotel. It is unknown what the future might look like for the facility and its residents. But the eerie stories will, hopefully, be replaced by some beautiful memories.
William Banks Hanner, Charles L. Dix, and Robert H. Schops, the original three hoteliers, had a vision. Almost 100 years later, their hotel might have found its true calling despite its horrible history.
Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles will always attract people who like all things paranormal. Sadly, our morbid curiosity often overlooks reality.
The real history of this building and its area is about people whose lives took a turn for the worse. And like many of them, Cecil Hotel became a tragic formation, a victim of vilification due to circumstances.
Like many of you, we are going back and forth between hotel Cecil's mysteries and socio-economical questions that made it easier to believe in the paranormal than to accept that the hotel's fate was much less troubling than the destinies of people in the surrounding area.