A Brief Tour of L.A.’s Secret Ruins

From a crumbled mansion in Altadena to a ghost town outside Santa Clarita

In such a developed region, ruins are hard to find. We’ve made the search a little easier.

Cobb Estate


Past a moody stone-columned gate and three-quarters of a mile up a skeletal asphalt driveway sits the vestiges of lumber baron Charles Cobb’s mansion. A few stone walls, a random plinth, and steps to nowhere survived the estate’s demolition in 1959, when the Marx Brothers owned the property. Today it’s supposedly haunted parkland and the starting point to the Echo Mountain hiking trail. Lake Ave. and E. Loma Alta Dr., Altadena

White Point Hot Springs and Royal Palm Beach


On the cove’s right you’ll find the terrazzo dance floor ands tone chimneys belonging to a circa 1908 rec center. On the cove’s left are the foundations of the White Point Hot Springs Hotel. Built in 1917 by the Tagami brothers on the former site of a Japanese fishing village, the resort was popular with Japanese Americans until it closed in the 1930s. The cove eventually became a military site. 1799 W. Paseo del Mar, San Pedro

Lauretta Wasserstein Earthquake Sculpture Garden


Among the many buildings destroyed by the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake was a Cal State Northridge parking structure. Artist Marjorie Berkson Sievers and landscape architect Paul Lewis wrought some beauty from the wreckage, reframing bowed concrete columns and looping, vine-laden rebar as modern art in the university’s sculpture garden. 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge



California’s oil industry was born in 1876, when the first commercially successful well,“Pico No. 4,” was tapped in the Santa Susana Mountains’ Pico Canyon. The town of Mentryville that cropped up around it housed more than 100 families. Not so much now. What remains is a ghost town with a 19th-century residence, schoolhouse, derrick, and barn. There are hiking trails, too, so come prepared. 27201 Pico Canyon Road, Stevenson Ranch

RELATED: The Northridge Earthquake: “Like a Punch Delivered From Below”

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