2.07.2015

The Curse of Griffith Park


I have a love affair with Griffith Park. When I first came to Hollywood and witnessed the mix of dilapidation and overpriced tourist facades, the alcoholics in tenements and schemers that preyed on newcomers, I needed a refuge. Just two blocks north, I let Griffith Park swallow me whole. The branches of the live oaks seemed to embrace me as I disappeared into it. I love the lush greenery in Fern Dell, the rocky peaks where coyotes emerge at sunset and the dark tunnel that leads to the Observatory. Horses are everywhere. The Haunted Hayride at Halloween is unmatched by any East Coast farmhouse, no matter how authentic or remote. You can't compete with Hollywood set designers and union actors.
Colonel Griffith J. Griffith

The creek seemed to cleanse the city grit off of my skin. The mountaintop carried me high above the yellow-brown blanket of smog. I was also surrounded by a different breed of hikers. While Runyon Canyon is the place for the liposucked to seal TV deals while burning off their skinny lattes, Griffith Park was filled with a quieter sort. People were there to immerse themselves in quiet, in nature or to be with family. It was so untouched, it felt wholesome. Just as it should, as Griffith Park does hold the old kiddie carousel that inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland.

But what many don't know about is the curse of Griffith Park. This storied piece of land is priceless, and perhaps because of it, this park holds a checkered past. Wikipedia does confirm that:

- In 1896, Mr. Griffith (of Griffith Park) was supposedly spooked by the ghost of Antonio Feliz, the land's previous owner at the park.

- In 1903, Mr. Griffith shot his wife, severely wounding her and was put in jail.

- In 1933, a fire trapped and killed 29 men and injured 150 more.

Since then, there have been fires, crimes, dying cattle, ruined crops and mysteries surrounding Griffith Park. But here's the real question: Why was Mr. Griffiths haunted by the ghost of Antonio Feliz, the original owner?
 

Apparently, a curse was placed on the land by his blind niece, Dona Petronilla. She was angry that a back-door deal had stolen the land away from his heirs that lived on the land, such as herself.  Is the curse scarier because she is blind? Um, yea. How did the land get weaseled away to a third party?  According to Weird California: Don Antonio Feliz was wasting away with smallpox, and on his deathbed, Don Antonio Coronel visited him with a lawyer, Don Innocante. Supposedly these two gentlemen drew up the will and the story claims that a stick was attached to the back of Don Antonio Feliz to help the poor dying man nod his head in agreement to the new will. The new will was witnessed by several ranch workers with the surname Paco who resided a short distance from the main house.
the swindler

Countless websites have covered the above events, and countless more Angelenos have written in to claim supernatural activity. Someone even took it upon themselves to make a horror movie about the curse, but thought it would be cooler with, like, monsters or something. It looks pretty bad.

But this curse has the opposite effect on me and many others who frequent Griffith Park. Angelenos are desperate for history and culture, so instead of scaring us away, we're like moths to a flame. Much as we hate to admit it, tragedy is romantic. Ghost stories are titillating. I wish more places in Los Angeles were as storied as Griffith Park. 

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