The Parkside Ghost

Informant is LO, a USC freshman from New York City, New York.


“The Parkside Ghost has never been taken seriously. It’s common knowledge but no one truly believes in it. Sometimes all the lights will go dark and you’re in the hallway, and the lights on the other side of the hallway will start flickering which is just scary especially when it’s late at night. Then you have other instances where the elevator doors open randomly, like when the elevator is there but no one ever walks in. There’s also The Stench. It kind of smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, and you smell it and then it goes away. It usually stays for five minutes and we’re all like ‘Oh, it’s the parkside ghost.’ There’s also no hot water, although recently there has been. All of those have happened to me, so there definitely could be a ghost, but I think they’re all circumstantial. I think it makes it more fun, personally I don’t believe it. Also because Parkside is pretty old, so there’s that idea.”


The University of Southern California was founded in 1880, and the Parkside residential buildings which informant LO references were built over the course of multiple years in the 2000s, making them at least 10 years old. The Parkside residential buildings include Parkside Arts and Humanities Residential College — a special living community for freshmen interested in the arts and humanities — Parkside International Residence College — a special living community targeted at first year students seeking an international experience — and Parkside Apartments — a living space designated primarily for juniors and seniors.


As USC is an institution with a nearly 150-year tradition, there are bound to be certain legends and folk narratives that form. This memorize reflects one consequence of an old school, which is the presence of old buildings. However, unlike other ghost stories — such as those from Estonia which tell of demons which steal property from Ülo Valk’s “Ghostly Possession and Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore” — this ghost story lacks any reference to “unfinished business,” whether from a failed ritual or disappointed ancestors. Rather, as LO states, the goal is simply to make fun of the poor quality of an old building, and perhaps give some explanation to the unexplainable, as some ghost stories do.