Recently I was watching a show on netflix about dark tourism and it made me reflect on my time in the USA and it got me thinking, what defines dark tourism, am I in fact a dark tourist myself?
While I was in Los Angles I stayed a couple of nights at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel for many reasons, one to recover from jet lag, two it was supposed to be haunted, three it had a long history including an old speakeasy, plus it was central to a couple of things I wanted to see down town.
My first delve into dark tourism was researching the Black Dhalia before I went to stay in Down Town L.A.
The Black Dhalia
The Millenium Biltmore Hotel was the last place Elizabeth Short A.K.A “The Black Dhalia” was seen alive. Elizabeth was an aspiring actress who was gruesomely murdered in January 1947. Her body was found cut in half and the case remains unsolved. After researching this murder, it is said The Black Dhalia was last seen walking down this staircase and exiting the Millenium Biltmore.
My first Dark Tourist photo! The disappearance of the Black Dhalia.
Who Shot Tupac?
Viva Las Vegas! My holiday, that now in hindsight was a dark tourist holiday went from 1940s murder mystery to modern day murder mystery when I took a Road Trip to Las Vegas. Everyone has different reasons for visiting this city, however not everyone would want to go for the reasons I did. I went to see the MGM grand home of the infamous Mike Tyson fight and the subsequent events after the fight that made me drive around looking for the corner of Koval and Flamigo to see where Tupac was shot. Tupac Shakur was arguably one of the most influential rappers in the early 90s before a fatal drive by shooting in Las Vegas, September 1996.
WHO SHOT YA?
Then there was that morning in Los Angles when I googled a place to have brunch on Wilshire Boulevard, right near the place where infamous 90s New York Rapper “Biggie” A.K.A Notorious B.I.G was shot in March, 1997. Like my Vegas Trip, this is not usually a reason why someone would pick a place to brunch, especially on such a busy road with nothing desirable to look at. Of course the museum itself was virtually unrecognizable after a $125 million renovation in 2015.
DRIVE -THROUGH FUNERAL HOME
As I was taking photos in a musty smelling drive through funeral home (Robert L. Adams Mortuary) in Compton, Los Angeles it was at that moment I realized I was a dark tourist. A family of mourners walk out of the front door with a look of disgust at me standing there with a camera, after all they were inside planning their loved ones funeral or viewing their body in the privacy of behind closed doors and here I am this this silly Australian girl out the front taking pictures!
It is my understanding that reason this place exists was due to the high gang violence in the past, mourners were unable to congregate for long periods of time due to the threat of drive by shootings so this drive-through viewing was set up to give people opportunity to pay their respect without getting out of their car. These days it is said to be handy for the elderly and less mobile. I am unsure if anyone was in the coffin when I went or if they always keep an empty one in the window.
So it was here when I stopped following death, murder and mystery on my holiday. While some take tours of the homes of the rich and famous, I decided to take a tour into the unusual.
Let me know in the comments below, have you participated in dark tourism? Ever visited somewhere unusual?
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