Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Monday, January 3, 2011

Walk #8 : Highland Park - Highlands

Distance: 3.2 miles
Steps: 342
Difficulty: 3
"Here is a sprightly walk through some gorgeous Highland Park neighborhoods, featuring dramatic Craftsman homes, magnificent San Gabriel views and exposure to some heavy East-meets-West mysticism." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May 2011 be a good one for you. There was no better way to start out the new year than to celebrate our thirtieth stair walk and over 15,000 steps with old friends and new friends while taking in a really great neighborhood! Only 12 more walks remain so stop making excuses if you want to be in my blog before I put it to rest upon our 42nd and final walk. Willie reappeared and it was great to see him again. He brought a friend with him (Leo) who was an enthusiastic participant whom we hope to see on future walks. Although it was a cloudy day we had lots of sunshine in the form of 3 wonderful girls who seemed to enjoy being out with a bunch of old folks. Ines brought her daughter Leah and Julie brought her girls - Vivian and Sofia. It was our most-attended walk to date and as they say, "the more the merrier." Right Charles?!

From left: Vivian, Willie, Sofia, Leo, Julie, Leah, Ines, and Charles

Vivian, Sofia, and Leah

We began our walk at Figueroa Street and Avenue 53 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles - an old section of the city with a heavy Mexican population. This was evidenced by the many religious icons and Nativity scenes we saw on front lawns. The area we saw was chock-full of interesting sights; especially the abundance of Craftsman-style homes. The American Craftsman Style incorporated architecture, interior design, landscape, applied arts, and decorative arts. In the U.S. the movement began in the late 1890s and remained popular into the 1930s.

Leo checking out the old Presbyterian church with the broken window at top. We soon left the busy Figueroa Street and headed for the hills.

The Yellow line (seen here at Marmion way) runs from Pasadena to East Los Angeles.

Many more Craftsman homes to follow.

Christmas was definitely celebrated here!
and here!

This posting will be rich in pictures of homes that caught my eye and this one did as did so many more on this walk.
Simple yet elegant - in my opinion.
Mural on a school building. Pretty Aztec and Diego Rivera-like.

This food truck (we called them 'roach coaches' when I was growing up) was likely around way before the current food truck craze hit.
I usually photograph the staircases by themselves but little Leah jumped in front of it and I can honestly say that it looks much better with her there. 127 steps to the top.

Vivian, Sofia, Charles, and Julie happily climbing.

The Craftsman house pictured above dates to 1907 and was built by Edward Symonds. It is Los Angeles Cultural Monument No. 554 so I guess it makes it significant. It stood out no matter what landmark status it may or may not have.
The Southwest Museum in the background. It has merged with the Gene Autry Museum in Griffith Park and its hours of have been drastically reduced but I understand you can still go in one Saturday each month. It's best to check the website before visiting.

I just love this one.
Charles, Leo, Willie, and me.

One of the girls asked me why Joseph was wearing pink and I honestly don't know why! I told her it was likely a red that faded.

2 of 3 houses all in a row.

Not all the stairways are attractive. This 27-step one was marred by graffiti and neglect.

I really liked this one too. So subtle and elegant.

At Abbott Place we found a driveway that lead to the next stairway. Several landings and only 56 steps.

In the middle of the picture you can see a very steep street and immediately after that a huge stairway, both of which we climbed on a previous walk. The houses on the top of the hill are part of the Mt. Washington neighborhood.

Our final staircase was located on Avenue 50. We would retrace some our steps on this walk to reach our starting point and that is always great because you see things from another perspective and notice many things you missed the first time.

Our patient guide Charles with two of his wards: Vivian and Leah.

When 9 strange faces walk in front of your house on a Sunday morning they attract attention. As we walked by a man approached us and proceeded to tell us about a Guiness Book of World Records story relating to this tiny house and the houses on either side. Apparently, the house with the French doors (in the middle) was once a guest house for the house on the left but the lots were divided. As you can see, the properties on either side don't allow for access to the small house so the 'world's smallest easement' (one inch) was created to allow the middle property to have rights from the street. I don't know if this is true but that's what we were told! As we neared the end of the walk everything was running smoothly until Leo approached a house with several crazed Chihuahuas in the front lawn. He put his in front of one of the yelpers and BAM! One of them bit him and drew blood. He was a real sport about it though as you can see from picture below.

Leo sporting his dog bite.

On the same block of crazy mini dogs were 2 hens and a rooster! The light colored one had feathers on her feet and it was really interesting.

We were soon back on the main streets and headed to one of our hangouts when we are in the area. We have eaten at Chico's at least 4 times after our walks and we always get friendly service and great food!
Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 12 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 15,773

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. Hey Robert, great blog! Looking forward to this Sunday's downtown LA walk. :)

  2. I can't believe we only have 12 left. These have been so much fun. I loved this one 'cause there were so many walkers, and having the kids along was a real treat. Biting dogs, chickens, and Nativity scenes - what more could you ask for. Thanks for leading another great walk!

  3. Hey there! I actually remember seeing your troops walking our stairs (the very long ones that were first in your trek) and wondering why you walking them in the rain! I live at the house on the bottom and I'm not surprised our house didn't make your photo gallery as it's undergoing a never ending restoration and the rain prevented any sort of meaningful yard work over the past couple of weeks. Sigh. Maybe in a few years. The stairs are great fun, especially since it bring a new sort of living with our neighbors, but during the rainy season, it's not so fun with 3 kids under 5 and groceries!
    Happy Climbing!

  4. Rebecca, I'm glad that you not only noticed us but that you found the blog! The walks are so much fun and we really enjoyed this one.