Scenes of the Crimes

What a gorgeous day today. Blustery and not very warm, but with the rains of yesterday having blown through, L.A. was left with one of the most crystal clear days I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Susan and I spent this wonderful day chasing ghosts. Let me rephrase that: Susan indulged my fascination with the dark side of the city and came along as we rode the 1947 Project’s Crime Bus for a five-hour tour that began in Hollywood at the IHOP on Sunset Boulevard where Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) member Sara Jane Olson attempted to bomb two LAPD cars in 1975 and ended in the Crenshaw District on Norton Avenue north of 39th street where the severed corpse of Elizabeth Short — aka the Black Dahlia — was found on this exact day 59 years ago today.

In between we were shown various crime scenes of varying notoriety, including one literally a block over from our house. We also visited the site of the infamous televised 1974 shoot-out between SLA members and the LAPD, as well as several others.

One thing I learned along the way: the Hillside Strangler serial killers Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono resided on Tamarind Drive north of Franklin Avenue in 1977 during the commission of several of the murders — less than a mile from where I was living at the time. Isn’t it sad when your youth is populated with boogeymen? Prior to them I was often left looking over my shoulder and avoiding any shadows where the infamous “Skid Row Slasher” might have been hiding. Whoever that murderer was was responsible for the gruesome deaths of several homeless people in 1975.

The tour itself was informative, but it was not without its rough edges. There was much disparity between the deliver styles of the three guides, and they could have improved in their pinpointing of points of interest (a lot of times they just said someplace was “over there.” Not much help for those of us in the back wondering if it was on the left side of the packed bus or the right. Some sort of printed program would have been nice as well.

All in all though, it was a very unique way to see parts of the city (flashpoints to the riots of 1965 and 1992, anyone?) we otherwise wouldn’t visit and it was kind of fun in some of the various heighborhoods to see the curious expressions on the faces of the residents wondering why the hell a loaded tour bus was cruising through their neck of the woods.

Published by


Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."