Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Walk #2: Eagle Rock

Distance: 3.8 miles
Steps: 328
Difficulty: 3
"Here is a relatively gentle walk through a little-known section of a little-known corner of the city, rife with solid local architecture and some of the city's few "sidewalk staircase" streets." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

The Eagle Rock section of the City of Los Angeles is bordered by Pasadena, South Pasadena, Glendale and the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. A boulder easily seen from the 2 Freeway supposedly casts a birdlike shadow thereby giving the neighborhood its name. Eagle Rock is becoming more and more hip and gentrified. What I enjoyed most about this walk was the eclectic nature of this section of the City. At some points we were climbing hills and then we would encounter flat sections only to see more gritty areas one staircase away.

Our walks usually include encounters with cats and dogs and we are usually surprised by something. One constant during our walks is a critique of houses and what we would do to make them just 'right' or what we like/dislike about a particular structure. Playing architectural critic is a very important part of the experience. Maybe this is why our walks are ALWAYS longer than the Hidden Staircases says they are. For us it's a hike/walk, architecture tour, and a botanical experience all rolled into one. Oh, and there is the lunch thing at the end as well!

Charles, Willie and I began our walk on Colorado Blvd. Very quickly we encountered and old (for LA) area with a mix of housing styles and heavy on charm.

One of two front-yard swings on this walk.

The first staircase was only 31 steps but was so simple and elegant and led to a sloping walkway.

And then it was a quick drop into another neighborhood.

The more we walk the more aware we become and in addition to swings, this walk had old cars as well. I forgot what type of car this was but it sure caught my eye sitting there in an empy lot in a residential neighborhood.

Because Los Angeles is far from flat we are truly blessed with amazing views and changes of scenery. From urban to hillside views to country lanes, each walk brings its own unique qualities. The next staircase contained 47 steps and led to the back of an elementary school and various styles of architecture.

Eventually we ended up on very busy Figueroa Street which leads to Downtown LA and beyond. This 64-step stairway was quite different. An otherwise bland stairway became the canvas for a painting of Tai Chi praciticioners (and for some cholo/tagger graffiti too).

Pictured are Tai Chi Masters Charles and Willie

We climbed the steps and found a not so attractive staircase and walkway but that's how it works on these walks. You just never know!

We were soon back on Figueroa and crossing the street again.

Figueroa Street looking north towards the 2 Fwy.
On our climb up the stairs pictured above we encountered some scary looking guys (I think they were drunk) and entered a more rustic, unkempt area.

These were all over the gate!
The obligatory kitty encounter.
We eventually ended at the top of a very steep street. On the way down there were two options to navigate the hill - steep street or multiple stairway.

Front yard swing #2 on this walk.

When I was a kid growing up in New Rochelle, NY we had treehouses but they were never this elaborate and definitely not built on a Eucalyptus tree.

At the bottom of the hill was a flat neighborhood with older homes.

Nothing screams Southern California more than these types of aparment buildings. I found the Yosemite Manor to be a particularly good example.

Old car #2
The street below had a certain gracefulness about it and the stairs were gentle and spread out.

A little Fourth of July spirit.
As we headed downhill toward the beginning of the walk we could see Downtown Glendale.
This took us back to Colorado Blvd. for a stretch before reaching our starting point.
We didn't eat here but the sign was cool.
Cacao Mexicatessen has a flower shop attached.

The end of our walk took us to lunch at Cacao Mexicatessen on Colorado Blvd. We have eaten there in the past and have always enjoyed the food and ambiance. You can also purchase Mexican gourmet items there.
Nothing like chips and chile with an Horchata after a long walk!

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 31 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 4,865

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA

Monday, June 21, 2010

Walk #27: Silver Lake Court

Distance: 3.2 miles
Steps: 603
Difficulty: 3.5

"This is a country walk in the city, along a stretch of the old Red Car electric trolley system. It has loads of elevation change, amazing views, and a bear hunt." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

On this walk we were joined by our regulars - Willie and Vladimir - and Sammy (Vlad's nephew). It is always a pleasure to have others along and I usually post our next walk in my status on Facebook. In addition, Charles sends out an email weekly to those who are interested in keeping up on where we will be next. If you want to be added to this list please let me know.

From Left: Sammy, Charles, Willie, Vlad.

We began this walk at Riverside Drive and Fletcher Drive in Silver Lake. On one side of Riverside lies the busy Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) and on the other a hillside which I found to be in disrepair. We saw the remnants and foundations of former homes and stairways leading nowhere. It looks as if the hillside has reclaimed some of the old structures.

I don't know what this means. Perhaps it was meant to say that parts of this walk would be a 'bear'? Once we turned of Riverside Drive into a residential area and were soon on Silver Lake Avenue. Not Silverlake Blvd or Silver Lake Court which lies at the top of the first stairway. Normally, the staircases were built for people to climb down from their hillside homes to access the trolley cars but in this case the residents climbed these 30 steps to reach the Pacific Electric Red Car trolley line which took them to Downtown LA. At the top we found 2 surprises. The first was this very friendly couple who were also using their handy Secret Stairs book in hand and were doing the same walk. This is my 2nd such encounter and it's great to know that others are actively enjoying the guide as we are.
The second surprise was this road. It appears to be an abandoned byway but this dirt country road was actually where the Red Car line ran some years ago. There are no traces of this rail line that I could see. I knew of this road as I had a friend whose house backed up onto this road but I did not know the story behind it nor the significance of the stairways in helping people access this vital transportation system.

A memorial off to the side of the road

We continued along this rustic road for several minutes and encoutered a shady grove of trees and it was hard to believe that we were right in the middle of the city!
Back in civilization we encountered our first stairway which was right across the street from the Glendale Freeway (2). I don't know the purpose of all those cameras on the post but we made sure to wave. Across the freeway is the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
At the top of this stairway we found yet another quiet hillside neighborhood with varying types of architecture and its own charm.
A treehouse in the front yard.

I don't know the meaning of these bears but we found some more up on this hill!
Back on the dirt road walked along the left side for a few minutes before reaching more homes at Lakeview Avenue and Allesandro Way.
If you don't look closely you will miss the sign in the window that reads "Holy Land Exhibit." This is actually a Bible Knowledge Society Museum that dates back to 1944 and houses antiquities.
Never missing from our walks are encounters with animals and on this one we were being watched.
Next up was a monster of a staircase that included 219 steps. There were incredible views to be enjoyed while walking them but I was focused on making it to the top in one piece! They seemed to go on forever.

Charles, Sammy and Vlad on the ascent.
Willie took the lead and announced that he could see the street and that gave us a last bit of energy to keep going.
At the top we were treated to spectacular views of the Silver Lake Reservoir and some unique houses.

Silver Lake Reservoir.
I can't explain what this thing was doing in the middle of the hill.
I understand that there are several of these funicular contraptions all over the neighborhood which are used to ferry trash and groceries up the sides of the hill.
From our perch we could see Glendale and Forest Lawn in the distance.
The remaining stairways were very welcome as they would lead us down the hill.

The second to last stairway is the one used by hill dwellers to access the Red line. The one on the other side of the road is the one we climbed at the begining of the walk.
Back on Riverside Drive and nearing the end of our walk.
This store sold oilcloth, Pond's cream, vitamins,bicycles, water and so may other things.
Charles loves the cakes from this place and they really are something special!
As usual, a meal at the end of a long walk this time at HOME. They have a great enclosed outdoor patio and a casual ambiance.
The gang.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 32 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 4,537

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA