Thursday, September 27, 2012

Los Angeles Union Station

For starters, Union Station was built on the site of the bloodiest riot in this city’s history, in which a Chinese gang war erupted in to a lynch mob that spilled into neighboring communities. When the dust settled, fifteen bodies (some accounts claim as many 19) hung from the trees along Los Angeles Street, near where the entrance to the Union Station stands today. As a result, that dirt road was nicknamed “Hangman’s Street.” Although the legends of catacombs discovered during construction (Indian burial sites, Chinese opium dens, tunnels, etc.) are apparently not true, the many stories of corpses, folded or in pieces, found in luggage at Union Station are true. The most famous occurrence of trunks dripping blood involved Winnie Ruth Judd, the infamous “Tiger Woman” of Los Angeles (a.k.a. the “Velvet Tigress” to avoid confusion with the two other notorious local killers also given the nickname the “Tiger Woman”). In addition, the murderer of “Lower 13” was arrested on the platforms as he and his slashed victim rolled into Union Station (perhaps on the now-closed track 13, whose walled-in gateway can still be seen). On top of all of that, the area near Union Station's baggage claim, was at one time this city's "lover's lane," where all kinds of illicit behavior took place. But the most “spirit-inducing” piece of strange history connected to the station doesn’t involve anything scandalous or macabre.

Union Station’s abandon (but preserved) “restaurant” had the good fortune to be designed by visionary architect Mary Jane Colter. Although notable for creating spaces that fuse Spanish and Native-American influences, she was also fascinated with the supernatural. She used to try to build places that felt like they had history, places where ghosts would feel comfortable. Two of her most famous commissions “The Ghost House” and “Phantom Ranch” reflect that spirit. It is not surprising that most of the locations she created have ghost stories attached to them. Thus, maybe the reason why no one remembers why Union Station is haunted is because people can no longer go into the room where “ghosts feel comfortable.” -Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles

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