The Cecil Hotel: New Netflix Series Investigates Infamous Los Angeles Landmark 

‘The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ is directed by Joe Berlingter and produced by Ron Howard.

Netflix isn’t new to salacious true crime content, and has revealed the new series Crime Scene, which dives into the lore and mythology of contemporary crime scenes. The first season, ‘The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’, focuses on the notoriously evil Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The trailer which dropped yesterday, contains footage of “Hotel Death”, explaining the numerous deaths, murders and suicides that have happened within the walls since the 1930s.

cecil hotel

Opening in 1927, the Cecil flourished as a fashionable destination, however the location of the Cecil Hotel began to decline quite quickly after the great depression. Now known as Skid row, the surrounding area became increasingly populated with transients, and as many as 10,000 homeless people lived within a four-mile radius.

By the 1960s, the hotel had gained a reputation as a residence for transients and criminals. As such, deaths, suicides and other violent deaths on the premises became more frequent.

Throughout the 40s and 50s, so many suicides occurred at Cecil, longtime residents had begin to call The Cecil Hotel “The Suicide”. In addition to suicides, the Cecil’s history includes many other disturbing happenings and also became a notorious spot for cheating spouses, drugs and sex workers.

In 2007, the hotel was refurbished and new owners took over the property. In 2011, the Cecil Hotel was re-branded as “Stay on Main”, complete with a new website which expired at the end of 2013.

In 2014 New York hotelier Richard Born purchased the hotel for $30 million, after which another New York based firm. Simon Baron Development acquired a 99 year ground lease on the property.

In February 2017, Los Angeles City Council voted to deem the Cecil Hotel a historic cultural monument, because it is representative of an early 20th century American hotel and because of the historic significance of its architect’s body of work.

Even with it’s prestigious landmark status, no one can overlook the hotel’s infamous and very dark history. The first documented suicide at the Cecil was reported in 1931, after guest W.K Norton died in his room after taking poison capsules.

cecil hotel - black dahlia

In 1947, Elizabeth Short, dubbed the Black Dahlia, was rumoured to have been spotted drinking at the Cecil’s bar in the days before her notorious, and unsolved murder.

In 1964, retired telephone operator “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who was a well-liked and longtime resident of the hotel was found dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed and beaten and her room ransacked. A man named Jacques B. Ehlinger was charges with Osgood’s murder but later cleared, her death also remains unsolved.

Perhaps the most notorious guest of the hotel was rumoured resident Richard Ramirez, nicknamed the “Night Stalker.

cecil hotel - richard ramirez

Ramirez had been a regular on the skid row area of Los Angeles, and according to a hotel clerk, who claimed to have spoken to him, Ramirez is rumoured to have stayed at the Cecil Hotel for a few weeks. Ramirez may have engaged in part of his killing spree while staying there.

Another serial killer, Austrian Jack Unterweger, stayed at the Cecil in 1991, possible to copy Ramirez in some way. While there, he strangled and killed at lease three sex workers, for which he was convicted in Austria. He hanged himself shortly after his conviction.

After it’s re brand to “Stay on Main”, the Cecil became the focus of attention again after the surveillance footage of Canadian student Elisa Lam, behaving erratically in the hotel’s elevator went viral.

The video shows Lam repetitively pressing hotel buttons, walking in and out of the elevator and making super creepy hand gestures almost in a trance like state, looking as if she was hiding from someone or something.

cecil hotel - elisa lam

Her body was subsequently found in the water supply cistern on the hotel roof, following complaints from the residents of odd-tasting water and low water pressure.

How she got into the water tank remains a mystery.

The LA County Coroner ruled her death accidental due to drowning, with bipolar disorder being a “significant” factor. Theories have swirled since then about possible paranormal activity as well as this death still remains largely a mystery compounded on top of the infamous site of the hotel.

This mystery and many other deaths will now be featured as part of the Netflix series ‘The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel‘ coming out February 15th, 2021.

Watch the trailer below

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Lillie Alexandra
Lillie Alexandra is a writer & community manager from Toronto. She loves kimchi, fat cats and telling unique stories.
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