Tag Archives: altadena

Gravity Hill

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Half black, half Mexican-American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

INFO:
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.

BACKGROUND:
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.

CONTEXT:
The informant, one of my housemates, shared the story with me in conversation.

ANALYSIS:
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.

Zorthian

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Half black, half Mexican-American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

INFO:
The informant lives in a house in Altadena — behind her house is a trail that leads into the woods. At a certain point on that trail, there are a bunch of abandoned-looking houses that are actually occupied. This area is collectively known as Zorthian. People go there to scare themselves, but it’s rumored to be a meeting ground for local members of the KKK. There are other legends surrounding the area, but the informant isn’t clear on those.

BACKGROUND:
Because the informant’s house is so close to Zorthian, she can sometimes hear the screams — and subsequent laughter — of the people who go there to scare themselves. She also frequently sees cop cars in the area, as Zorthian’s residents call in police to take care of trespassing people in the area.

At night, the entire area is tree-lined and very dark. People, especially teenagers, go there to drink and smoke. This practice is clearly despised by the people who actually live there, but because of the creepy, strange associations of just the buildings and where they are themselves, people still go to the area to scare and be scared.

CONTEXT:
The informant, one of my housemates, shared the story with me in conversation.

ANALYSIS:
What I find really interesting about this story is how even though it’s generally acknowledged that there’s nothing especially haunted or out of place in Zorthian (besides its ridiculous name), locals still treat it as such, even if only in a joking way.

The Legend of Jirayr Zorthian’s House

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Asian-American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: San Marino, California
Date of Performance/Collection: March 2007
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin

“Jirayr Zorthian was an artist who lived on a ranch in Altadena, California in the 1940’s until the time of his death.  Apparently, he moved there to protect his kids.  He built his house in a way so that no cars could get within a certain radius of his kids outside his house.  One day, Zorthian backed out and ran over one of his kids.  Now, his ranch has become a popular spot for teens that are looking for adventure.  It’s a creepy place to go to at night because it’s deserted and there are cults.  A lot of beware of kids signs are located around the property.”

My informant heard this story from his friend Taylor a couple years ago.  Since he lives near Altadena, he knows teenagers who drive up to the ranch in search of encountering the supernatural.  Going to the Zorthian ranch as a midnight adventure is most likely a local fascination.
He actually does not know much about it.  He only knows what Taylor told him.  This may explain why people believe that the ranch is haunted.  The fact that the ranch is deserted and ancient-looking may be reason enough to spread that the property is haunted.  He doesn’t think about what may have happened with Zorthian’s car accident because he isn’t interested in ghost stories.  He thinks that the incident could be true, but he doesn’t think that it necessarily mean that the ranch is haunted.
I have been to the Zorthian ranch before because I was a teenager looking for adventure on one uneventful summer night.  I had heard that the ranch was a creepy place to go to at night, but I had never heard of the story behind it.  When I arrived at the ranch, I noticed many warning signs on the fences surrounding the property.   I looked out the car window and saw an extremely narrow driveway, and I couldn’t tell where it led up to because of the darkness.  My friends didn’t want to drive through the driveway, so we ended up leaving.  Later that night, I looked up the history of the ranch online.  All I could find was that Jirayr Zorthian was an artist that once lived there.  There were no speculations about the ranch being haunted.  I think that the rumor that the ranch was haunted was just created by a bored teenager who was scared of the deserted ranch.