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The White Lady of Elysian Park

The White Lady of Elysian Park

Image by the Los Angeles Almanac.

Editor's Note: the Almanac includes the following as folklore - not history. Although some elements of the story may indeed be historical fact, we offer these stories as a part of the cultural fabric of Los Angeles County.

The White Lady of Elysian Park is one of those local Los Angeles folklores passed down from one generation to the next. It has frightened children and served as another foolish way for young people to demonstrate fearlessness. The story is about a ghostly woman dressed in white who haunts the hills and valleys around Elysian Park in Los Angeles. It has similarities to that of the Mexican legend of La llarona (the Wailing Woman), although, unlike La llarona, the White Lady doesn’t seem to limit herself haunting bodies of water.

Where the legend originated is anyone’s guess. The Los Angeles Almanac found little written about the story and it appears to be mostly retold verbally. One of the two most common versions says that the White Lady is actually La llarona herself, although we suspect that to just be a melding of the two spooky legends. The other story relates how the White Lady was a young Mexican American woman who, during the war years of World War II, ended up being brutally assaulted and murdered by U.S. Navy sailors who she had the misfortune of spending time with. Some versions even have her being decapitated. We weren't successful at finding a record of such a horrendous crime, although, it did remind us of the "Black Dahlia" murder of about the same period. We can’t help, however, to fail to note that, during that period, the Mexican American community had good reason to feel hostile to sailors. Perhaps, the story was meant to be a cautionary tale for young Latinas about who they elected to go out on dates with.