The Santa Monica Pier seemed like a pretty spooky place when Sandra Bullock was running for her life on it in the 1995 film, The Net. But she was running from the living on the pier. Legend has it that you should be more concerned about the not living.
Built in 1876, the Santa Monica Pier is one of LA’s oldest, most famous attractions. On any day of the year it is filled with tourists and Angelenos that want an escape to the fresh Pacific ocean breezes, and the bright cheerful shops, restaurants and amusement park on the pier.
To hear people talk about it, the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most haunted places on earth. Yet I find less stories about ghosts on the pier than many other locations in Los Angeles. Perhaps, the legend is rooted in the fact the stories about Santa Monica being haunted as an area go back to before the town was named… and before it was even a part of the United States. (We’ll get to those later.)
On the pier, the spooky rumors surround the Looff Hippodrome, the 2 story building that houses the Carousel on the lower level and offices upstairs. (If you recall on The Net, Sandra Bullock hid out from her attacker in the carousel control room.) Built in 1916, the same year as the Looff Pleasure Pier (now called Santa Monica Pier) on which it is located, the hippodrome was the last work of master carousel builder and amusement pioneer Charles I.D. Looff.
For years, rumors have circulated about a dark, shadowy figure wandering on the roof at night or riding the carousel horses. It’s one of the city’s most repeated urban legends. Years later the original carousel was replaced and the offices above it were converted into apartments. During the ’60s, it attracted all kinds of bohemians—writers, musicians, beach combers, hippies, and a faction who would be influential in L.A.’s art scene.
A long time pier supervisor said tenants heard someone walking down the hallway but when they went out to look no one was there. They also heard the calliope music from the carousel. They would run downstairs and no one would be there. It happened many times over a period of years.
Other reports say people actually saw ghosts on the roof and riding the carousel.
The apartments were destroyed by fire in 1975. They were rebuilt as offices in the early ’80s. As the ghosts only came out late at night, no one is around to hear them anymore.
My guess is that if you were to slip out onto the pier late at night after it was closed it would seem very spooky. But I would be more concerned about the living that might be on the pier than the ghosts. If you are looking for other places with real ghosts to spend Halloween check our post on Eight Super Spooky Los Angeles Places with Real Ghosts.
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