Nationality: Half black, half Mexican-American
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/2014
Primary Language: English
In Altadena, California, there’s a hill called Gravity Hill. When you go on its downward-facing slope in a car in neutral, the car starts going uphill.
Gravity Hill is situated next by a reservoir; there are trees everywhere, but it’s a pretty open space otherwise.
The informant first heard about when she was 12 — she’d heard that it was super creepy and that there were ghosts and spirits pushing you up the hill, and that the “magic” worked better at night.
When she first went on it, she thought that the entire scene was an illusion of angles. Later on, she would walk around in that area all the time, climb the fences that surrounded the area and hang out there with friends. Hanging out in Gravity Hill was very much “a thing” to do when you were a kid or a teenager in Altadena.
Altadena in general is, in the words of the informant, an Altadena native, “hippie dippy.” She describes the locals as “sort of weird,” so something like Gravity Hill seemed right at home there.
The informant, one of my housemates, shared the story with me in conversation.
The existence of these sort of geographical anomalies, where the perceived tilt of the earth doesn’t match how things actually move, is not that rare — I recently traveled to a similar place in NorCal named Confusion Hill. In both cases, the existence of spirits was taken as granted, not necessarily because people strongly believed in them, but because it was just seen as another weird thing to add onto the already weird location.
That said, the fact that the residents in the area are known for being a little off kilter as well makes the existence of and continued legendary presence of Gravity Hill more understandable.