Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Walk #37: Hollywood Bowl and Hightower Loop

Distance: 2.6 miles
Steps: 421
Difficulty: 4

"This is an exotic stairwalk around the back side of the Hollywood Bowl, into one of the city's few walk-street communities, with no access to cars. It's heavy on history, dotted with architectural gems, and full of atomosphere." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

My sister Sandra and my friend Vlacho.

Each walk has been a unique experience and this one was especially fun as Charles and I enjoyed the company of two lively Colombians: my sister Sandra and my friend Vlacho (Vladimir). They were great fun and I would love to have them along anytime. I hope they join us again and we look forward to more company as we explore our backyard. We began this walk at Franklin and Highland (near the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are held).

The author William Faulkner spent some time living here at the Highland Towers.

American Legion post, Hollywood.

This first stairway consisted of 103 step and led us to Glencoe Way from where you can see High Tower (more on that later).

Vlad, Sandra, and Charles enjoying the shaded stairway.

We continued along this street which ended at a cul-de-sac. A walkway that appeared to be private was actually a shaded path that led us to a Frank Lloyd Wright design - the Samuel Freeman house. This 1924-built structure is one of several in Los Angeles which include the Ennis and Hollyhock structures.

Views of the Samuel Freeman House.

We retraced our steps back to Glencoe only to face this monster which led us to Paramount Drive - only the first part had railings.

I'm sure they would have enjoyed the walk as well!

The set of steps pictured above led to a 'walk street' (Los Altos Place). It is a rare occurence in Los Angeles to have two such streets intersect. These streets are only accessible by foot. We continued up the stairs to a path leading to the High Tower elevator and the Alta Loma walk street neighborhood.

Los Altos Place.

I had no idea this High Tower campanile-type structure existed! Apparently it has appeared in numerous Raymond Chandler and Harry Bosch novels. The tower was built in the 1920s to serve the residents of the Alta Loma neighborhood and it is said that only 30 neighbors have keys to this elevator tower - all others have to hoof it like we did.

We encountered this gentleman (Gary) at the entrance to the tower. He owns several properties in the area and has lived there for a very long time. It was a treat to hear about his life experiences. According to Gary, the lady who was the voice of Snow White lived locally (see picture below) and they adopted each other. This woman's sister was a voice coach and counted Maria Callas among her students. I can only imagine the opera diva walking this neighborhood, her voice echoing through the hills. I love these types of unexpected experiences when exploring the city.

This home on Broadview Terrace was designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright).

We continued along this very quiet, lush, and secluded neighborhood called Alta Loma. I kept thinking about what a privilege it would be to live here but what happens when you need to get some diapers or have to buy new furniture or have to lug your groceries?? We saw a couple leaving with a baby so people do manage!

The 'Snow White' house.

An interesting mailbox. You can see through the window if you've got mail.

We climbed down this last set of steps back to civilization. It led us to an area next to the Hollywood Bowl.

One of my favorite summertime activities is to attend concerts at the Hollywood Bowl but I didn't know there was a park on Highland Avenue adjacent to the main entrance. The Highland Camrose Park is a peaceful oasis with picnic benches and beautifully restored structures on the grounds. What a wonderful surprise to mark the end of our walk!

Since Charles has a food blog called 100 Miles we try to end all our walks with food. This time the four of us had lunch at the Alcove Cafe & Bakery in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. It's located in restored bungalows built in 1916 and offers a peaceful locale from which to recharge after an arduous walk.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 37 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 2154

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. These walks just seem to get better and better. I'm not sure I even have a favorite after doing four of them. They've all been so unique and interesting. However, meeting Snow White's adopted son was pretty great. It will be hard to top that one. On to the next!

  2. During the late 1960's we walked through the area and there was an old outdoor elevator that was out of order at the time. Does anyone know anything about that? I'm writing a short story about the experience, but I would like to get some facts on that elevator and if it's still in existence.

    1. I'm a native Angeleno, born in town & raised in the Valley. My parents moved to Panorama City in 1954, when it was way out in the country. When I was in high school in the mid-late 60s, the Alta Loma neighborhood was one of our late-night adventures. We would get high and walk all around the neighborhood, sneak in the elevator. I remember taking people there for the 1st time, and scaring them stupid By pushing the elevator button. The thing would bang and shake and take off at ultra low speed; and you thought you were going to die.

  3. This is incredible. So beautiful. I'm so glad folks haven't destroyed all of this and the beautiful homes to replace them with awful McMansions.

  4. This is incredible. So glad folks haven't destroyed the stairs and torn down these beautiful homes to replace them with McMansions.