Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Monday, November 29, 2010

Walk #24 : Silver Lake Terraces East

Distance: 2 miles
Steps: 762
Difficulty: 3
"The steep slopes of Silver Lake Boulevard gulch offer dramatic staircases on both sides. This western-facing episode delivers great Moderne architecture, fine mountain and city views and a real workout." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

Many people have asked me what I'm going to do after the 42 stair walks are completed and the blog is put to bed. I will be glad to have my Sunday mornings back but also will be looking for more opportunities to hike/bike/walk/explore Southern California. This marks walk #27 and only 15 more remain so if you have read the blog and wished you could join us, you had better start thinking about it! No more excuses. Charles has been on every single walk and Willie has missed 4 in a row! We have two new regulars (Ines and Enrique) and we're glad to have them along. They were along for this one and gave me a hard time about there not being a meal afterwards. We try to fit in breakfast/lunch when possible but in this case they had to settle for coffee/tea at LAMILL Coffee on Silver Lake Blvd. It's not just any cuppa Joe. They also serve great food and the quality/selection of their coffee is something else.
(Enrique, Charles, Ines)

We began our walk on Silver Lake Blvd along a small commercial stretch housing unique shops and dining options with a 7Eleven store in the mix.

An architecture firm with ever-changing art in the front.

We walked less than a block before we turned left and up the hill. We have walked around the Silver Lake Reservoir just up the street many times and always enjoy the wonderful sights. Something about the water views, the mountains, and the great homes that make it a truly special corner of Los Angeles. Exploring the hills above the neighborhood is always a treat and this walk was no exception. The first stairway was an easy 25 steps but right away you were transported to a different place just above the noise of the busy street below.

Soon after we came to our second one with only 76 steps. Just enough to get your heart racing a bit.

This Thanksgiving weekend provided crisp fall weather, a little wind, and very clear skies all of which made for extra clear views of the city.

We didn't have to climb these stairs.

The next staircase did make me huff and puff a little - 108 steps with no landing. Best way for me to tackle these is to skip a few at a time and move as fast as I can to get it over with. The best part about climbing is that with altitude it seems the neighborhoods acquire more charm and you feel more removed from the big city.
Glow-in-the-dark Charles with Enrique behind him.
I'm not sure I've climbed the stairway across the canyon.

Effie Street is so maddening. It has so many starts and stops to it.

This house comes with an elevator and a staircase behind it just in case.

I'm a big fan of Moderne architecture and the house above is an example. Silver Lake has so many amazing homes. In a previous post I featured the designs of the Neutra firm (father and son architects).
Silver Lake Reservoir seen from above with Verdugo Mountains in the background.
Ines and Enrique enjoying the view.
All of a sudden there was a flat area and we were all surprised to see non-curving, regular streets. It lasted a few blocks before we were back on hilly ground. This time we were headed downhill down a most interesting walk street that included some unique doorways.
177 steps going down - my favorite type.

A view from the bottom of the stairs.
At the bottom we encountered Scott Place. It's a pedestrian-only street running from Silver Lake to Dodger Stadium with some interruptions along the way. We had seen another portion of this street on a previous walk.
The easy walking can only last so long. Soon after we came across this steep 82-step stairway dating to 1927. So simple yet graceful.

As soon as we climbed the 82 steps we crossed the street to climb this one - 89 steep steps leading to Silverwood Terrace.
A short block and then down again, this time 104 steps to Easterly Terrace.
I kept asking Charles when we would see the two Streamline Moderne homes mentioned in the book and he assured me we had not missed the Skinner House or the Vanderpool House- designed by William Kesling. He had worked for the famous Rudolph Schindler before branching off on his own. These wonders were constructed in 1936-1937 and to see them side-by-side is a wonderful sight. From the outside they look pristine and so modern after 70-plus years. For me, it was the highlight of the walk.

Down the road is another Kesling home, 'Model Home,' from his early days.
'Model Home' by William Kesling.
A final staircase heading down took us back to the busy Silver Lake Boulevard and our starting point.
My reader/narrator/guide, Charles holding the 'bible.'
We parted ways at LAMILL Coffee but not before a cup of some great coffee!

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 15 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 12,753.
Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA

Walk #4 : Glassell Park South - Taylor Yard

Distance: 3.2 miles
Steps: 401
Difficulty: 3
"Here's a nifty trip through the Mt. Washington-adjacent hills, with a starting point by the Los Angeles River and a stroll through an unexpected piece of Santa Monica Conservancy parkland." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

This long Thanksgiving weekend coupled with crisp, clear skies made for amazing walking opportunities. Charles and I usually walk on Sundays and invite others along when we do so but on Saturday I woke up in the mood for exercise so I just picked a walk close to his home in Atwater Village. We were both truly surprised by the diversity of this walk and once again by the things you can see when you slow down and get out of your car! We began the walk at N. San Fernando Road in an industrial area that parallels the Los Angeles River and rail lines. I live in nearby Burbank and have driven by the area too many times to count and never noticed the Rio de Los Angeles State Park ( Neither had Charles. Yes, there is a large urban park filled with sports facilities, trails, and picnic grounds in what was once a large railroad yard (Taylor Yard) used for the repair and maintenance of rail cars! I know that I will return to use the well-maintained running/walking paths and fly my kite there. It is definitely worth a visit.
We parked inside the park and crossed the busy San Fernando Road and headed uphill.

You can see one of the entrances to the park from this street/alley.

This neighborhood is nothing to write home about but there was definitely the feeling that people know their neighbors. I might have blended in a little but not Charles! One man approached me (he saw my camera) and asked me in Spanish if it was okay for him to put his chair on the lawn and I was puzzled. He thought we were some kind of inspectors and I told him that he could put that chair wherever he wanted.
It is only a few short blocks before you start climb into the hill. I saw a Mt. Washington sign but perhaps it should read 'Mt. Washington-adjacent.' Everyone wants to say they live in that neighborhood and perhaps a bit of this walk was indeed Mt. Washington but this part of it is a stretch.
That's Griffith Park.

As we climbed the houses seemed to have a bit more character to them and better maintained.

The Tillie Street stairs are part of an actual walk street - one of the few true walk streets in LA. There are 135 steps and the only way to access homes on the street is by climbing up or down. Good for privacy but not so good if you left something in the car or have lots of groceries. I guess you know who your real friends are when they hoof it up to visit you.
The street is formed by several sections of sidewalk/street broken up by short stairways in a gentle climb.

Elysian Park can be seen in the background - on the other side of the Los Angeles River and the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5).

The stairway seemed to go on forever but we finally landed on Kilbourn Street and walked for a long block before encountering our second stairway.

It's either mailboxes or gates that grab my attention. When I see a gate and nothing behind it I always wonder what surprises might lie behind the door.

A Ford Thunderbird in really great condition.

The next stairway contained 133 steps and afforded amazing views. This neighborhood is less than 5 miles from the center of Los Angeles yet you would never know it.

If you look very closely you will see the Griffith Observatory. Really.

Elysian Park with the skyscrapers of Downtown LA in the distance.
As we continued heading into the hills and getting closer to the Mt. Washington neighborhood we noticed a distinct rustic feel to the neighborhood and could not believe we were in the middle of the 2nd largest city in the US. Surprise turned to shock when we saw a Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Parkland smack-dab-in-the-middle of the neighborhood. I bet you've never heard of Elyria Canyon Park ( The Conservancy buys back land for public use but I thought the lands were all somehow connected. This park lies nowhere near the Santa Monica Mountains and is tiny but a very welcome sight. We met a very friendly Israeli family and the husband (Tal) told us about how lucky they felt to live in the area. It is very common to find chatty neighbors on these walks who are happy to point out hidden stairways or to chat. I so could live around here.

From Elyria Canyon Park you can see Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.
It takes no more than 5 minutes to walk from the gate at the top to the bottom gate but you really do feel transported to another place far from the urban setting we inhabit.

I don't know what the purpose of this red barn/house is but we were told by Tal that it is used as some sort of community center.

Back in civilization we started our descent and encountered some great views on our way down.

From above we could see our starting point - the Rio de Los Angeles State Park.

Thankfully, only a little graffiti marred this unique piece of artwork.

One of the local street thugs: El Charlitos.

Moi, uncombed hair as usual.
A view of the Park from across N. San Fernando Road.

Once back in the park we sat down to a picnic lunch I spent hours preparing: BLT sandwiches, pickled veggies, and bbq potato chips. Who can forget my favorite pastime? - the LA Times Crossword. Can life get any better?

The train tracks are just right there to remind you where you are.

I never thought that a $12 book could give me so many memories and continue to surprise me at every turn of the page. This walk sure did present two amazing urban parks and ones I will be sure to visit again!

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 16 stair walks.
Steps walked to date: 12,361.
Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA