Phoenix Mythbusters have pegged the top goose bump-inducing urban myths in the area. Many stories have circulated for generations, while some have only been around for a couple of decades. Some stories, such as the ghost of Saguaro High School, are unlikely to be true while others, like the urban legend pertaining to Phoenix's infamous Hotel San Carlos, are frighteningly real.
Hotel San Carlos
The renowned Hotel San Carlos sits at 202 North Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix. Since its construction in 1928, a number of celebrities have stayed here, including Mae West and Clark Gable. Along with achieving celebrity status itself, the hotel has become synonymous with Phoenix urban myths.
Back in 1874 before the hotel rose to fame, a schoolhouse stood at that location. It is said that a watering well was dug for the school, and a few people drowned in this very well (which is still being used to this day). Because of the deaths, the school was eventually condemned. But tragedy struck again years later, soon after the hotel opened in 1928, when a woman named Leone Jensen plunged to her death from the rooftop after being jilted by her beloved.
Throughout the hotel's history, many hotel guests, employees and visitors have made reports about the hotel being haunted. Photos taken of the stairwell and the front of the Hotel San Carlos have even turned up evidence of mysterious ghosts, wavy mists, and unexplainable figures. Hotel guests have heard children laughing and running through the hallways late at night.
The one night that I stayed at the Hotel San Carlos in the 1990s, I called the front desk to complain about the disruptive noise in the hallway. It was nearly 2 in the morning, and I could not sleep even with ear plugs. When I checked out in the morning, I talked to the front desk about the noise levels, and they assured me that no children were staying on my floor.
In addition to these mysterious noises, apparitions of a woman in white have also appeared to visitors in Hotel San Carlos. Many attribute this ghost to the spirit of Leone Jensen. She usually emerges as a cloudy mist, a full apparition, or a whisp of cold air. Sightings have frightened so many employees that many refuse to work their shifts alone.
Hotel San Carlos
202 North Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ, 85004
Saguaro High School
Many years ago when I attended Buena High School, my close friend was a student at Saguaro High School. We saw each other just about every weekend. She once shared a story about her school that left me horrified. She told me that a girl had been hung on the grounds of where the school now stands. Centuries ago, the girl had performed witchcraft, and she was caught by the townspeople. Many other people were also accused of witchcraft, and hung as well. Following this gruesome history, strange occurrences took place on the school's grounds. The toilets flushed, girls felt their hair being tugged on, and whispers could be heard. When I asked my friend if she had ever experienced anything out of the ordinary, she responded, "Well, no. But it's not like I'm looking to mess with any ghosts."
In reality, this is just one of those scary urban legends that spread through a high school for entertainment value. And considering that the area where the school was built wasn't founded until the late 1890's by Chaplain Winfield Scott, Phoenix Mythbusters are skeptical about the tales of witches being hung in the 1700's. After all, this is Arizona, not Salem, Mass.
Saguaro High School
6250 N 82nd St
Scottsdale, AZ 85250-5699
Deer Valley High School
Just off of N. 51st Avenue is the ghostly spot known as Deer Valley High School. Depending on who you ask, the school's auditorium is haunted by a male ghost by the name of "Dwex" or "Dewey." The urban legend surrounding this character's identity is full of mystery. Some storytellers allude to a love triangle gone wrong, while others link the ghost to a construction worker who fell from the scaffolding.
Many high school students who have been in the auditorium claim they hear voices crying, feel cold spots, or even see an apparition on the catwalk. Of course, I've also talked to friends who attended the high school, and not once did they experience any strange occurrences in the auditorium, nor did they get the feeling that the place was haunted. In fact, one of my friends even told me that she had never heard of the ghost stories during her three years as a student at Deer Valley. In all likelihood, this story is nothing more than an intriguing yet false urban myth. But it makes those mysterious sounds in the auditorium a little bit creepier...
Deer Valley High School
18424 N 51st Ave
Glendale, AZ 85308-1499
The Ghost of a Little Girl
My brother and many friends used to tell me the story of a little girl whose ghost can be seen at various locations around Phoenix. Most commonly, she appears on 5th Avenue (around Rosemont and Fillmore). Her spirit also tends to roam around 17th Avenue and Grant, and 19th Avenue and Camelback. But just who is she?
According to urban legend, the young girl was struck by a car, and the driver of the vehicle fled the scene. The 5th Avenue sightings are reportedly more vivid since this is the precise spot where the little girl allegedly died. Many Phoenix locals believe that the girl appears in a quest to identify her killer.
One storyteller described how the girl's spirit emerged in the back of the ambulance that led her body away. As the ambulance left the scene, witnesses reported seeing the little girl's face and hands pressed against the window of the vehicle.
The various urban myths about this little girl have circulated for nearly 20 years. Many claim that the girl died in 1995. While several hit and run accidents occurred during that particular year, finding evidence of a little girl involved in this tragic incident have proved fruitless.
This ominous alley has been called "Jojo's Alley" and "Dog Boy Alley." While many people speculate about the alley's precise location, my friends conclude that the alley is off of E. Circle Street (little more than half a mile off of 7th Street). Oleanders eerily line both sides of this little alley where paranormal activity is said to take place. According to urban legend, lights appear out of nowhere and flash at anyone who is brave enough to drive down the alley. Some people even claim that you can hear the sound of fist beating on the car roof.
Personally, however, I have never experienced such oddities upon driving down this particular road. It simply comes to a dead end. But believers hold strong to this Phoenix urban legend.
- Overview:Phoenix Travel Guide