The Cecil Hotel opened in 1927 with 14 floors and 700 eerie rooms. It has been the site of a string of suicides, at least one murder, and several alleged ghost sightings and has had a list of sinister guests. The hotel hasn’t always had a reputation for its unexplainable series of events. During its early years, it enjoyed great success as a tourist destination and as a residence for middle class Angelinos up until the 1930s.
In the 1930s, the Cecil Hotel was the end of the road for many of Skid Row’s residents and consequently has been the scene for a number of suicides, therefore leading some residents to call the hotel “The Suicide”.
Lady Gaga’s character, The Countess, is likely an ode to the most prolific female serial killer of all time, the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, aka the Blood Countess. Between 1585 and 1610, she was charged with abducting, torturing, and murdering 650 young women in Slovakia. Bathory also allegedly bathed in and drank the blood of her victims, the purer and more virginal the better, believing it would keep her young.
Ryan Murphy allegedly claimed that Mr. March (Evan Peters) is also loosely based on H.H. Holmes, America’s first-documented serial killer. Holmes built his own three-story hotel, dubbed the “Murder Castle,” outside of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Holmes lured young women to the hotel to kill in his secret torture rooms.
Rumour has it that Elizabeth Short (also known as the Black Dahlia), was last seen alive at the Cecil Hotel, before her infamous killing on January 15th 1947.
“Pigeon Goldie” Osgood was a bird lady who would feed pigeons at a public park in Downtown L.A., she was found in her room at the Cecil robbed, raped, strangled, and stabbed on June 4, 1964… authorities never convicted anyone for her murder.
The Night Stalker
From 1984 to 1985, there was a serial killer in L.A. known as The Night Stalker. During his killing spree, The Night Stalker took residence at the Cecil. At night he would exit the hotel in search of victims, returning to the hotel covered in blood, he would go around back to the alley where he would shed his clothing, toss them in the dumpster, then return to his room.
Jack Unterweger was an Australian murderer who was later released from prison and became a journalist, but Unterweger had far from changed his ways. He reportedly moved into the Cecil in 1991 and murdered three prostitutes throughout Los Angeles during his stay. It is said that he is one of the inspirations for the season’s ‘Ten Commandments’ killer.
In 1992, a 28-year-old man was found dead in front of the Cecil Hotel. Authorities believe he may have jumped to his death from the property, though an employee of the hotel said the man was not a hotel guest. This man would not have been the first to end his life at the Cecil Hotel.
Hordes of American Horror Story fans are constantly trying to book a room in the hotel. They all try to book the room that 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam was in when she stayed at the Cecil in February 2013. Lam’s body was found floating in one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks, after a number of guests had complained about having numerous problems with the water supply.
Coinciding with the death of Elisa Lam, an outbreak of tuberculosis was spreading through downtown Los Angeles. Health authorities were urging citizens to get tested. The name of the tuberculosis test was the Lam Elisa Test.
The Cecil Hotel was eventually rebranded as the Stay on Main Hotel and Hostel. The bright and fun rebranding seems to have erased some of the location’s reputation for now.