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Abandoned Places True Crime Weird and Strange History

The Infamous Lincoln Heights Jail

The Infamous Lincoln Heights Jail

Al Capone. Zoot Suit Riots. Watts Riots. Bloody Christmas.

Nightmare On Elm Street. The Long Goodbye. Caged Heat. LA Confidential.

These make up only part of the story of of LA’s dark history…

The Lincoln Heights Jail operated from the 1930s to the 1960s before being decommissioned. Before its closing, the jail even housed Al Capone himself and became infamous for an incident later titled “Bloody Christmas”. The jail was then used for various things such as a popular filming site for big Hollywood movies and music videos, and even home to the Bilingual Foundation Of Arts. Despite plans to redevelop the imposing structure, Lincoln Heights Jail currently sits empty and abandoned.

The Lincoln Heights Jail, located near the Los Angeles River, was built in 1927 and cost a massive $5 million. It opened its doors in 1931 and was initially made up of 5-stories with space to house 625 prisoners. Things had changed rapidly by the early 1950s though, with the jail growing to hold 2800 prisoners. In 1951, the unwarranted and unprovoked beatings of seven prisoners. This is what became known as Bloody Christmas. It all started on Christmas Eve of 1951 when LAPD officers Julius Trojanowski and Nelson Brownson headed out to a call that had reported minors drinking. When they arrived, the so-called minors were seven adult men. Daniel Rodela, Elias Rodela, Jack Wilson, William Wilson, Raymond Marquez, Manuel Hernandez, and Eddie Nora. The men produced their identification documents showing their age but still, the officers said they had to leave. The men all refused. The officers then tried to forcefully remove them and a fight broke out. The one officer needed stitches and the other got a black eye. Seven hours later the men were arrested. 6 were taken to the jail. Daniel Rodela however, was horrifically beaten by multiple police officers. On Christmas morning, a rumor broke out between a large number of drinking officers at a Christmas party that Julius Trojanowski had lost an eye. The 6 prisoners were then taken from their jail cells and beaten for 95 minutes by approximately 50 officers. All of the men received severe injuries. A cover-up attempt followed and shockingly the results of the eventual trial were as follows: 8 officers were indicted and tried between July and November of 1952. Five were convicted, but only one of the men got a prison sentence of more than a year. 54 other officers were transferred and 39 were temporarily suspended without pay.

Al Capone was detained at Lincoln Heights Jail along with other notable individuals such as those arrested during the Zoot Suit Riots and the Watt Riots. Lincoln Heights Jail also had a high number of LGBTQ+ inmates. These inmates were all kept in a separate wing. The Los Angeles Police Department had a heavy crackdown on LGBTQ+ activity during the 50s and 60s. Undercover officers would go to bars and parks that were known hangouts for members of this community and then arrest anyone they suspected of soliciting non-heterosexual sex and prostitution.

The jail was officially decommissioned in 1965 after the LA City Council and LA County Board of Supervisors decided to rather consolidate inmates to nearby county jails as it would be more cost-effective. In 1979, Lincoln Heights Jail became the home of the Bilingual Foundation of Arts as well as a gym. This arrangement lasted until 2014, the operations were closed after asbestos and lead paint were discovered at the building. Mysteriously, before this happened the gym’s owner was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

In 1994, a local boxing champion, Johnnie Flores, fell to his death in the elevator shaft after leaving the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Club. The community champion and amateur boxer was found at the bottom of the service elevator shaft just steps away from the boxing gym he founded and where he spent most of his days. This boxing gym made use of the former jail cells and holding tanks to provide athletic training for local youth.

The Lincoln Heights Jail has served as the backdrop to many of our favorite movies since its closure. These include The Nightmare of Elm Street, Caged Heat, The Long Goodbye, L.A. Confidential, and American History X and more.. It has also been used by musicians such as Lady Gaga and Blink-182 as the setting for their music videos.

Various film and TV crew members as well as building staff and visitors have reported experiencing unexplained or paranormal activity.

In 2016, there looked to be a new lease on life on the horizon for the Lincoln County Jail after the City of Los Angeles issued a Request for Interest to garner development ideas for the property. Permission was granted to Lincoln Property Company and Fifteen Group to redevelop the prison. The Lincoln Heights Jail was set to become Lincoln Heights Makers District. The space was going to have commercial and manufacturing spaces, recreational areas, an office space, live-work housing, and an amphitheater with green space. But, March 2020 saw things come to a halt after the site was put on hold due to environmental issues. There was hazardous material and trash that needed to be removed that apparently required more effort than initially expected.

As of 2022, the Lincoln Heights Jail is littered with graffiti and there seems to be no work being done on it. At the moment, it is off bounds for the public and is surrounded by a chain-link fence and protected by security guards. It is unclear what the future plans are for this historic building.

Categories
Esoteric Abandoned Places Weird and Strange History

The Rise and Fall of the Futuro House

The Rise and Fall of the Futuro House

The three decades 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s were remarkable times in history when two nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, were having their race to space. While the world’s superpowers were pouring their resources into conquering the universe, designers on Earth were competing to create the most ultra-modern homes, using science fiction as their inspiration. When Neil Armstrong then stepped on the moon in 1969, the idea of a futuristic utopia did not seem far away.

In that era was created Futuro, a flying saucer-looking portable plastic house that looks it arrived from somewhere really far from space. Measuring 4 meters (13 feet) high and 8 meters (26 feet) in diameter, Futuro house has a variable amount of oval-shaped windows that look a lot like bug eyes. The entryway is a single pull-down door that opens with a key. The door descends and turns into stairs, like in an airplane.

Inside, the floor plan featured accommodations around a central space that looked very much like those in spaceships. The chairs could be kept upright during the day and put down at night for sleeping. In the center, there is often a fireplace, and depending on the model, there were also amenities like a kitchenette, toilet and dressing room. Still, a Futuro house was not really a place where you would necessarily live permanently. So what was this iconic piece of architecture’s original purpose?

Me at a Futuro House. Wallingboro, NJ.

It all started when a Finnish doctor Jaakko Hiidenkari asked 1965 his schoolmate Matti Suuronen to design a ski cabin that would be “quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain.” For his project, Matti chose fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic as the main material as it was already familiar to him and had been used in Finland before for another structure of a similar shape. So that the cabin would be easy to transport, it was designed to consist of 16 elements that were bolted together to form the floor and the roof. On top of that, the house could be heated in only thirty minutes, from −29 to 16 °C (−20 to 60 °F.) It was a masterpiece, an avant-garde retreat. 

In addition to the original idea, Matti also had a vision his creation could be used for families as an affordable, durable and easy-to-clean plastic house they could move whenever they moved. He saw a different kind of future without homelessness.

Yet, despite widespread domestic and international interest, Futuro never lived up to its commercial expectations. After all, it was just too weird and expensive for mass markets, no matter the ongoing space age. However, the severity of the public hostility was a surprise. Some Futoro’s were vandalized, some even destroyed. The last nail in the coffin was the oil crisis of 1973 which tripled the price of plastics and made it much more challenging to manufacture and market Futuro.

In total, less than a hundred Futuro houses were ever made of which 64 have survived, five of them still being in Finland. The one located in Espoo is actually Futuro 001, the first Futuro ever manufactured after the prototype. There it stands, proudly reminding you of an optimistic vision of a future that never came to pass.

 

Sources

The Futuro House

Futuro no. 001 

Welcome to the Futuro house

What Exactly is Matti Suuronen’s Futuro House?

A Map of the Last Remaining Flying Saucer Homes

This flying saucer is one man’s vacation home

10 Out-of-This-World Facts About the Futuro House

 

Categories
Abandoned Places Weird and Strange History

Vintage Neon Signs | Neon Museum Las Vegas

Vintage Neon Signs | Neon Museum Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a past. It probably has the pasts of all pasts. While the rest of the tourists and bachelorette parties are in full swing, I suggest visiting the Neon Museum. Vintage neon signs galore. It’s a graveyard of Vegas signs gone by. So many Vegas hotels have come and gone, but this home to fallen Vegas is alive, and especially at night.

Stardust

Sahara 

The museum was founded in 1996. The sign for the Sands couldn’t find a home, so it was scrapped, and the Neon Museum was born. The front office was created out of what was once the La Concha Motel. So you get a retro feel even before you enter the actual museum.

The museum opened for business to the public in 2012. Previous to that it was appointment only. The “boneyard” (a good amount of the collection came from the Yesco Boneyard) contains over 150 signs. The Neon Museum also maintains several restores signs on the strip. I’ve only been there at night, and even though it can be 100 degrees at 10pm, it’s worth it to see all the signs in it’s neon glory. Not every sign is lit up, but there’s enough to go around, and the guides really know their stuff.

Some say I haunt this place but I’m just waiting for an Uber.

 

Categories
Abandoned Places

Top 6 Defunct/Abandoned Amusement Parks in the USA

Top 6 Defunct/Abandoned Amusement Parks in the USA

The sounds of laughter. The adventure. The roller coasters and attractions with children and adults alike reveling in the fun, the thrill, and the amusement. The kiosks selling all kinds of drinks and foods, sometimes those only specific to the theme of the park. 

Then something happens. An accident. Low visitor counts. A natural disaster. And the fun stops. 

There are plenty of defunct and abandoned amusement parks to be found all over the world, but today, we are looking at 6 theme parks in the USA that have been abandoned or are no longer in use.

Top 6 Defunct/Abandoned Amusement Parks in the USA

Here is a list of the most interesting and creepiest abandoned parks in America: 

1. Orlando: River Country 

River Country was Disney’s first water hillbilly-themed park that opened in 1976. It closed its doors in November 2001 because of 9/11 and the significant impacts the terror attacks had on tourism in the USA. 

Disney has announced that in its place, Reflections—A Disney Lakeside Lodge resort with 900+ hotel rooms and villas is set to open in 2022. 

2. New Orleans: Six Flags 

Popularly voted as the creepiest defunct amusement park in the USA, Six Flags has been used for the filming of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World. 

It opened its doors to the public in 2000. The fun ended a few years later in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. The park sustained major damage, and it has fallen into decay ever since; there weren’t funds available for initial repairs. 

At the entrance to the park, the eerie sign “Closed For The Storm” is still on display.

3. Princeton: Lake Shawnee 

This defunct theme park in West Virginia has a haunted past. 

The land Lake Shawnee was built on is where children of early settlers were murdered in the 1700s. 

The park was built in 1920 and closed in 1966. Six years earlier, while visiting the park, two young kids died, with a death total of at least six. 

If you are into haunted places, you can visit the park every October for Dark Carnival. 

4. Aurora: Geauga Lake Park 

One of the few theme parks to operate in the 19th to 21st centuries, Geauga Lake Park, Ohio, was open to the public from 1887 until 2007. 

The park was popular for swimming and picnics when it first opened. It also had a race track, theater, bowling alley, Olympic-size pool, dance hall, and many attractions and rides. In 1925, the park built its first roller coaster, the Big Dipper. 

With some setbacks in the forms of a tornado and fire in the 1950s and 1960s, the park still flourished, despite SeaWorld opening across Geauga and changes in ownership. It was the final deal to sell the park to Cedar Fair that put the nail in the coffin. With rides being relocated and ride name changes, the end was in sight. 

 

5. North Dartmouth: Lincoln Park 

In Massachusetts, Lincoln Park opened in 1894 with a picnic area and grills. Later, wooden roller coasters were added. The Comet led to injuries in two accidents, while the ride also claimed two lives between 1960 and 1990. 

After the last incident in December 1987, the park closed. Many of the rides and attractions have been demolished. 

6. Beech Mountain: Land of Oz 

Also voted as one of the creepiest abandoned amusement parks, Land of Oz was popular in the 1970s when it first opened. 

With declining interest and a fire that caused a lot of damage, the park closed five years later. 

If you are brave, you can still visit Land of Oz in North Carolina around Halloween every year. 

 

In Summary 

Ferris wheels, attractions, and rides hold a lot of thrill, adventure, and fun. The amusement parks in which these structures are located hold the memories of everyone who ever visited. 

Due to natural disasters, changes in ownership, and declining interest, many of America’s theme parks are no longer in use. But the stories these parks tell, the secrets hidden within, and the possibility of seeing these apocalyptic sights will forever hold our interest. 

Check out more abandoned places here.