Santa Monica’s Route 66

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures

“The Mother Road.” Route 66 has captivated the minds of Americans for generations since its foundation in 1926. It was a main artery for the American psyche, representing adventure for some, salvation for others, and pure amusement for many and running from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, until 1936, when the route was extended to the salubrious seaside community of Santa Monica. It is here, amongst the palms and pines of sunny Southern California that the incredible roadway met its end. 

The hours of amusement and travel would cease, almost as if the Pacific itself consumed this concrete shell running along the earth. In 1985, the historic route was decommissioned, but travelers still came from destinations around the world to experience its fabled cultural landscape. 

When they arrive in Santa Monica, the pier greets them with a gracious smile. Its “Looff Hippodrome,” once the most marvelous of its time, still retains the spiritual activity of a time past. The nearby Georgian Hotel, an Art Deco masterpiece that acted as a retreat for Hollywood’s elite, also has its fair share of ghoulish guests. 


Are there any Ghost Towns on Route 66?

There are more than just ghost towns on the infamous Route 66. Come along on a quick trip through some of the spookiest places along this tainted road. Want to learn more about the most haunted areas in Santa Monica? Book a ghost tour with Santa Monica Ghosts!

Route 66 and Santa Monica

The historic Route 66, also known as “The Mother Road” or “America’s Main Street,” was constructed in 1926 to connect the western portion of the rapidly developing nation. It connected the Midwest, departing from Chicago, Illinois, to the expansive Southwest, ending in Los Angeles, California. The route was used for military, commercial, and personal use up until 1985 when the US Transportation Department decommissioned it. 

The development of the interstate highway system in the 1960s and 70s created more streamlined routes across the United States. The old roadway, one that followed century-old Native American and Spanish trails, was no longer needed. The small towns that thrived off the tourist and travel economy it brought have since worked to preserve the stretches of road that remain. America may not have been the same without it. As it connected previously isolated regional cultures to one another and allowed Americans the freedom that the road itself later became famous for. 

Route 66 was expanded in 1936 to allow access to the beautiful beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Its end destination, or rather its beginning, was the serenity-lapped shores of Santa Monica. Santa Monica, known as Rancho San Vicente Y Santa Monica before the American conquest of California, was recognized early on as a lavish tourist destination. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, wealthy Americans from the east traveled here to escape the harsh winters of New England. 

Two such men, Robert S. Baker of Rhode Island and Nevada Senator John Percival Jones, began to develop the area in the mid-1870s. In 1885, it was incorporated into a city, and by 1916, the famed Santa Monica Pier, the only pleasure pier on the West Coast, opened. The 1920s saw the rise of Hollywood and the need for solitude by its most successful members. Santa Monica became a highly valued destination for stars looking to escape the pressures of fame. Hotels such as the Georgian began appearing. Lone monuments to the area’s wealth amongst the densely wooded and secluded forest lined the coastline.

The Georgian Hotel

Two of the most well-known structures in Santa Monica, the Georgian Hotel and Santa Monica Pier, both have a fascinating living history. It lives on through those who visit and experience the wonders from a time past and through those who never left. Both are considered haunted by workers and visitors alike and offer many stories for any avid ghost hunter. The Georgian was constructed in 1933 by famed Art Deco architect M. Eugene Durfee. 

The Great Depression was in full swing, but due to the beautiful scenery of Santa Monica and the wealthy inhabitants of the area, construction was only slightly delayed. For many years, it was the tallest structure in the city and became a popular hangout for Hollywood’s elite. It offered modern amenities, a beauty salon, a barber shop, a playground, a dining room, and a speakeasy. Celebrities of the day, such as Fatty Arbuckle, Bugsy Siegel, Clarke Gable, and Carole Lombard, became frequent visitors. It was not renovated until the spring of 2000, but it still offers guests a glimpse into the past with its decor and facilities. 

Some guests decided never to leave. While their stories remain seemingly unknown, their appearances remain frequent. Many have heard a disembodied voice gleefully greeting visitors with a cheerful “Good Morning” in the Speakeasy Restaurant. Hotel workers often report strange voice calls from empty rooms. 

On the other end of the line, giggling is heard. Footsteps are often heard through empty hallways, and glasses shake and shatter in the kitchen area. Yet it remains one of the most popular hotels in Santa Monica. Perhaps it’s the charm, the ocean view, or, more simply, the journey into the unknown yet familiar era offered by the Georgian that guests seek.

The Santa Monica Pier and The Looff Hippodrome

The Santa Monica Pier was developed in 1916 and was the only “Pleasure Pier” on the West Coast. The 20th century saw the rise of many modern amenities and technological advancements. Along with it came more leisure time and various ways to spend such time. Carousels and carnivals grew in popularity, and in 1916 the Santa Monica pier acquired their own in the form of the Looff Hippodrome

This whimsically designed, two-story Moorish-style building was designed by master Carousel builder Charles I.D Looff. As a German-born carpenter, this would be the last of his work in a long and storied career. Looff also constructed the carousel that was installed on Coney Island at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, a massive fire destroyed most of the structure in 1943, and as such, the current carousel, installed in 1954, is not the original. 

Perhaps this explains why, late at night, when no one is around, the sounds of the calliope can be heard while it is turned off. The second floor became apartments in the 1960s, and some of Los Angeles’s most influential cultural bearers heard the otherworldly sounds nightly. By the 1980s, the second floor became offices and still operates as such today. Many see a mysterious dark figure trudging through the hallways in the evening hours. Many decide not to stay too late for this reason.