Stories of The Crying Woman (La Llorona) have circulated in Latino culture for generations, even finding a home here in South San Francisco. The typical legend goes something like this: A beautiful lady named Maria is married to a wealthy rancher, and they produce two children. Her husband pays her little mind while lavishing the children with his affections. One day, while walking with the children along the river, Maria catches sight of her husband with his mistress. In a fit of rage, she throws her children into the river. Realizing with horror what she has done, she makes a futile attempt to get them back, drowning herself in the process. She is buried the following morning, but at nightfall, her figure can be seen walking along the bank of the river in her burial dress as she cries out for her children. Is the ghost of The Crying Woman alive and haunting in San Francisco? In the spirit of Halloween, let’s take a look at some reportedly haunted places in San Fran!
Most Most Haunted Areas of San Francisco
The ColumbariumMany people have had their ashes laid to rest in the San Francisco Columbarium, an elegant final resting place that dates back to the 19th century. A humbling sight to see in its own right. There have been many reportings of other worldly activity in the Columbarium… Many of them reported hauntings of a young girl, “Little Viola”, whose ashes have rested there for over 100 years.
Stow LakeA story similar to the original La Llorona exists at Stow Lake, right around Strawberry Hill. It’s been said that in the darkness, a glowing woman with long hair and a white dress can be seen roaming the area looking for her baby, whose stroller went into the lake. She then went into the lake to save her baby and was never seen again.
Ocean Beach Sutro BathsThe Sutro Baths were completed during the 19th century as a luxurious escape for the wealthy. The poolhouse was reportedly pretty nice, at least until it burnt down in the 1960’s, after which it shut down for good. Visitors to the baths say that if you light a candle, a ghost will take it away and throw it into the water.
Winchester Mystery HouseSarah Winchester was wife to the creator of the Winchester repeating rifle. After suffering the loss of her child and her husband, the ridiculously wealthy widow sought out a medium to help her through her grief. She was told their deaths were caused by the angry spirits of the many people who had been killed by the Winchester rifle, and that she might be next. To appease the angry spirits, Sarah purchased a farmhouse in Santa Clara and continued to add onto the house for 38 years. Builders worked around the clock to transform the small house into a seven story mansion until Sarah’s passing.
Queen Anne HotelThere’s no better context for a haunting than the upset headmistress of a Victorian all girls’ school. Miss Mary Lake’s presence is said to be the strongest in her old room, #410, who was distraught over the closing of her school. The building was converted into a hotel, and visitors say she can be seen roaming the halls, apparently unhappy about her unwelcome guests.
The San Francisco Art InstituteIf there’s one thing books and movies have taught me, it’s that you aren’t supposed to construct buildings on top of graveyards. The San Francisco Art Institute is a beautiful piece of architecture built in 1900, but it’s believed to have been placed atop an old cemetery. Students and visitors often report hearing screams, footsteps, and other spooky behavior associated with poltergeist activity.
La Llorona is just a storyHauntings and ghost stories have been a part of human culture for the entirety of our history. Maybe we are inclined to look for meaning in things we don’t understand, or to find patterns that aren’t really there, so it’s ok to be a little sceptical. But, you can place the most reasonable person in the dim light of a Victorian mansion, and even they will be looking over their shoulder at the slightest provocation. Was it just the wind, or was it something else? Here’s to a safe, and happy, Halloween everyone!
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