Top LA Legends #20: The White Lady of Elysian Park


Like most legends, the White Lady of Elysian Park seems to exist mostly in the minds of people that know the story and lives on mainly by word of mouth; I wasn’t able to find much mention of it in books or online. Despite that, many of those in the communities near Elysian Park know of the legend. I asked Ana-Maria Garcia, a retired LAUSD teacher, for her version of the story, and she started it with an ominous warning:

“This is a story that our mothers would not tell us, because maybe it was too gruesome, but our Aunts and Cousins would tell us the tale.” Yikes!

So here’s how she knows the Legend of the White Lady of Elysian Park. In the years right after WWII, some of the returning veterans were still filled with violent thoughts. One day, two young Pachucas were walking down Sunset Blvd when two Navy guys drove up and offered them a ride. Since one of the ladies was having cramps from her, umm, regla, and didn’t want to walk, they accepted. After some flirting, they decided to pick up some beers and cruise over to a makeout spot in Elysian Park. The guys started getting drunk but when they got “fresh”, the girls resisted. They eventually let the one girl on her period go, but the other one was not so lucky: not only did they rape and kill her, they also cut off her head! When others returned, they found the head of the murdered girl but not her body. So to this day, when young lovers are spending an evening in Elysian Park, they might see the ghostly vision of the headless Pachuca dressed in white, coming back to find her head, or to claim a new one! Or so the story goes.

Is it true or false? Does it really matter? This story is a sort of obedience legend (common in Mexican-American folklore) intended to scare youngsters from either falling in love with the wrong person, or from going into places where things can get “fresh”! This story is multi-purpose as well; “let’s go find the White Lady” or “I don’t want to go there because of the White Lady”, I guess it depends on your date.

I also heard some stories from East Los native John Martinez about young guys being courageous, picking up bats, and heading to the park in an unsuccessful attempt to hunt down the White Lady. Or, at other times, perpetuating the legend by donning white sheets to scare unsuspecting friends. No doubt there are other versions to this story, if you know one, please share!

5 thoughts on “Top LA Legends #20: The White Lady of Elysian Park”

  1. I dont understand why she is dressed in white. Shouldnt she have khakis, a flannel shirt and mary janes?

  2. Why does this remind me of la Llorona? The story isn’t the same, but the way you tell makes me think of “mis hijooooooos! mis hijooooooos!”

    By the way, I’ve never been scared of rivers or lakes.

  3. I’ve heard the story has it roots in incident in which a few you boys were hiking around the foothills of Elysian Park (just above Chinatown) years and years ago, and they heard a sort of lamenting, sing-along voice and looked down a canyon and saw a figure in white…but it was actually a nun in her white habit who worked at what was then called the French Hospital on Hill st. singing. And it’s just been embellished. To say the least.
    So I’ve heard.

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