Secret Stair Walk#7: Highland Park- Southwest Museum

— My goal was to finish all the walks in the book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. I only had about 10 walks left when I pushed it to the back burner. One of my 2014 resolutions is to finally share those last walks with you. —

Most of the walks that I have left to complete are in the Highland Park area, so this next walk is #7: Highland Park-Southwest Museum. It’s a 3.2 mile loop with a fair amount of hills. 

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You can see the sky was a bit overcast so the photos aren’t as bright and cheery as they could be on a typical LA day.

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This walk had lots of lawn statues which were fun to find. Some were tiny so it was like Where’s Waldo. 

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Home-made signs and a lion statue. 

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More religious statues… this one is mounted to a log. 

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From far back down the hill you could see these steps. I knew there were what was next, so with heavy breathing I climbed up higher and higher. 

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Yes, this is a huge super steep hill with many flights of super steep stairs even higher up beyond it. 

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But the views from the top of the hill make all the climbing worth while. 

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This was a nice quiet mid-week walk. 

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The book points out this shrine in an old garage that’s now open-air. 

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This above is the Southwest Museum. It’s barely ever open to the public (one Saturday a month??) but it does have a library open to people with an appointment. The book made it sound like I could walk through the space, even though it was closed to the public, so I walked through. They were repairing the trail, so I was forced to walk in the way cars would drive in, which had me in a different place from the book. I saw the library had people in it so I tried the door- locked. I knocked, seeing someone at a desk right in front of the glass door. He didn’t acknowledge me. Really? For all they knew I was injured and needed medical attention, but nope- I didn’t have an appointment. Then an older man (security guard?) who didn’t speak english very well insisted that the book was wrong and that I wasn’t even allowed to walk through the public spaces. I find this hard to believe, given that I wasn’t asking to go into the museum but instead walk outside on the public grounds. I have to say- shame on you Southwest Museum. I expected more from this institution and was really let down. So I made my way back down to the road, having to cut out a section of the walk from the book, frustrated. 

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I found a way to loop back with the walk and found this upper walkway along Figueroa across from Sycamore Grove Park. It was an oasis of a walkway which separated me from the busy rush of cars speeding by on Figueroa. 

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There were apartment buildings and some large old victorians along the path, as well as this second shrine. 

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The book recommends checking out this quirky home toward the end of the walk. As I was reading the plaque and taking pictures a man comes out of the house, sees my walking book and offers a great history of the neighborhood. He was very sweet, and renewed my sense of humanity, after my frustrations with the unhelpful people at the Southwest Museum. Thankfully this walk ended on a positive note. 

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