Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Windy City

So I've had my nose stuck in the Dresden Files for going on a year now. I've made it to book 7 (out of 13 so far), and with every page I find myself not only loving the characters more and more, but also the setting. Harry Dresden takes up practice in the Windy City of Chicago. As a "Wizard for hire," he moves all around the Illinois-based metropolis seeking out all manner of baddie for the good of the world (or at least his immediate area). And while I have never been to Chicago (yes, I know it's only a few hours away), I feel in touch with the city on a lot of different levels. So, in honour of that, I thought I'd take a look at the darker side of Chicago and see what I might find lurking in the shadows. Today you'll read about just a snippet of what I found across the internet. Here are two locations you'll be dying to check out! Well, let's hope not literally.

What goes on here?

Along S. Michigan Ave. sits the Congress Hotel. Originally called the Auditorium Annex, the hotel was built in 1893 to house guests from the World's Columbian Exposition. Since its beginning the hotel has grown and become one of the nicest hotels in Chicago. Among all the gilded halls and comfortable beds, however, people have reported some shady goings-on.

The most noted are the hotel's "cold spots," specific places in the hotel that have a much lower temperature than the air around them. There aren't any certain cold spots, but rather they come and go all over the hotel.

Poltergeist activity abounds in the hotel, and there have been reports of objects being moved, doors slamming and even a few things thrown at guests by some unseen force! This, along with voices from nowhere and echoing footsteps make the hotel one active location. It's also rumoured that the ghost of Al Capone haunts the floors, as he once owned and operated out of the hotel, but there have been no confirmations of such. Besides, we all know he haunts Alcatraz, right?

Our next stop takes us to an Indian burial ground in the heart of the city itself. Robinson Woods was given to Andrew Robinson, a man of mixed blood, by a chief in the Chicago region. After years of living in Iowa, Robinson and family settled on the land and built a house. Rumours abounded about the family's habits- their luscious parties and unseemly activities going on in the mansion in the middle of the woods were the talk of the town! The family endured and stayed in the house until 1955, when the house burned to the ground. That wasn't the end of the activity, however. Later that year the bodies of three men were found in a ditch bound and naked.

Many different events have been witnessed here. Native Americans have been seen walking the grounds, and drum beats of the past were captured on recording in the 70's. Shadows have been seen, as have both red and white orbs. The scents of lilac and lavender can be smelled all year round, even when nothing is in bloom! EVPs, disrupted photographs, there's a plethora of activity in these woods. Apparently most of it happens right around the Robinson family burial monument. Perhaps the Robinsons never wanted to leave their luxury home, or what might have gone on inside.

After all my research, it would seem there are a lot more hauntings in Chicago than I previously thought! You know what this means, folks. There will be plenty more blogs devoted to that famous city herself!

As usual, if you'd like to know more, or see where my pictures come from, click the links below!

Photos: (Congress Hotel) (Robinson Woods) (Robinson Woods) (Chicago skyline)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Los Angeles, part three!

I'm back! I took an extra weekend off to get ready for my classes this semester, but now I have retuend and I am ready to show off more of America's haunted places! My holiday was a lovely one, but I missed home, and my blog. I returned to Ann Arbor from LA a week ago. In my three weeks back home, I did a lot of amazing things, and saw a lot of fantastic people. Unfortunately I didn't get to visit any particularly haunted sights (the exception is below), but that doesn't mean I can't give you a tour of more haunted locations in and around Los Angeles. Today I'll feature two more hotspots among the high-rises and freeways.

What goes on here?

Our first stop takes us to the Avila Adobe, the oldest private building in Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of walking through it myself. The creaky, old home was built in 1818 as a private residence for the Avila family, one of the first in the region. It is a gorgeous adobe-style home situated right in the middle of LA, surrounded by tall buildings, Olvera Street and the ever-bustling Union Station. It's open and free to visit. It's like stepping back into the past, and listening to the creaky floors and gazing on the made beds and tables of the adobe is both comforting and a little unnerving.

Avila was married twice before he died, leaving a young woman in her early 20's widowed and alone. It is reported that she, Maria, haunts the adobe, rocking in her chair on the front porch, invisible, and can be heard in the adobe, in the master bedroom, sobbing over her lost husband. Whispers are heard, and those creaky floors sometimes give way to unseen footsteps. Over all, the house does have an eerie vibe. Just walking through it once had me glancing over my shoulder a few times. And while it's not extraordinarily haunted, I think it's safe to say that, with such a long history as the adobe has, it's not unlikely that something might be flitting around the corners, or walking along familiar hallways.

Our second stop takes us to the glamorous Sunset Blvd in Wets Hollywood. The Chateau Marmont is a famous hangout of film's elite. The best of the best have stayed there since it's opening in 1927. It is a place where the rich and famous can play, be who they want to be and do what they want to do The Chateau Marmont is infamous as being the place to get away with everything you can't in front of the camera, and its tragic history is testament to that. Just a few of the incidents to happen here include John Belushi's death, Natalie Wood's supposed affair with director Nicholas Ray, Helmut Newton's car crash in the driveway (in which he died), several drug-induced stints by many actors and musicians and F. Scott Fitzgerald's heart attack. Even Hotel California is thought to be about the Chateau Marmont. With a history like that, how could it not be haunted??

John Belushi is one of the ghosts said to haunt the Chateau. There's not much evidence for it, but the belief might stem from the way he died. A drug overdose isn't exactly the most serene way of going., afterall. Perhaps Belushi simply wasn't ready to stop being one of the funniest men alive.

Several people report the feeling of being watched, and have felt the presence of someone they can't see. Voices, apparitions, there seems to be every kind of haunting here. The biggest downside to this hotel is that it is strictly private, and going on the grounds is forbidden without a reservation or an invitation. However, if you've managed to secure a spot among the elite, please email me and let me know what you've witnessed! The internet can only provide so much, after all, and I need to know more!

I apologize for the short entry this week. School and work have just begun again, and I'm going in a million different directions at once. Next week will feature three all-new hauntings from across the states! Enjoy your week, and happy haunting!

If you'd like to know more about the places examined above, or see where I got some of my pictures, here are some helpful links!: