The story behind the Disneyworld’s Tower Terror goes something like this: on Halloween night, 1939, four guests and one bellhop were aboard an elevator at the Hollywood Tower Hotel when the building was struck by lighting. They were never seen from again. Guests who now visit the Hollywood Tower are able to see the building as it was in 1939, with a few added cobwebs, and are invited to take a ride on the elevator, where they experience the same plunge that led to the apparent deaths of the five passengers in 1939.
While the look of the Tower of Terror was likely inspired by any number of Hollywood buildings built during the early part of the 1900s, there is a new claim that the dark ride’s back story may be inspired by the circa 1928 American Storage building at 3636 Beverly Blvd.
Advertised as “the most beautiful storage building in the world”, the 13 story tower featured “a roof garden dining salon, a radio broadcast station, a powerful aircraft beacon light, and what is planned as the largest electric sign in the West.”
Shortly after opening, the opulent club on its penthouse level was originally called “The Thirteenth Heaven,” with waiters all wearing wings and an elevator operator dressed as St. Peter. By April of the next year it had changed names to the “Roof Garden Cafe”, and at some point later, the joint became the “LA Press Club” and then “The Forty-One Club.” This was during Prohibition, so it may come as no surprise that the last two names the club served as a speakeasy, and were raided regularly by the Feds for serving alcohol.
According to ghost lore historian Richard Carradine, the also likely points to mob ties. Which is where the ghost stories come in. “It has very haunted elevator shaft,” he tells us.
“Staff hear screams from the abandoned elevator shaft as if someone were falling to their death,” he says. “When they check the bottom, obviously no one is there.” He adds that he’d been told gang members throughout prohibition would drop victims from the roof, offering another chilling similarity to the Tower of Terror ride.
We could find no evidence that bodies had been found at the site. But perhaps the victims, whoever they may have been, took a one way trip… to the Twilight Zone.
The building is now owned and operated by Public Storage, which has coverted even the notorious 13th floor into a storage facility. On a recent visit, we were disappointed that from top to bottom (including the basement), no apparent remnants of its original state remained, and the Public Storage orange roll up doors were spaced throughout.