Secret Stairs Walk #25: Swan’s Way (Silver Lake West)

—  In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!  —

When I did Secret Stair Walk #24, I decided to lump it together with walk #25, Swan’s Way  in the Silver Lake west hills. It was a beautiful day with clear skies. Nothing like a secret stair walk to put a smile on my face.

It was an excellent workout FILLED with stairs. Up I go.

You know how I love color and doors. This was pretty great.

So many hills..

This was an awesome find! I found a street artists heart stencil. I love finding street art on my walks, so finding he stencil was pretty cool.

Then I turned a corner and found street art (although ironically nothing with the heart from the stencil).

As I neared the end of the walk, I turned to see what I thought was a person watching me… nope, just a dummy. I had to share that. Do you think the person was throwing it away? Or was it’s always there for security? I enjoyed it either way. What an artsy community.

This last photo I included not just for the street art, but also for the volvo station wagon in the back of the shot. I learned to drive in a car that looks just like. Oh how I miss the old volvos. Boxy cars are the best.

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Secret Stairs Walk #24: Silver Lake Terraces East

—  In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!  —

It’s been a while since I shared a Secret Stair walk with you… and it’s been too long. So I bring to you my exploration of Silver Lake Terraces East (walk #24 from the book). I know I’ve been doing a lot of the Silver Lake walks (since I have so much fun in that hood), but there are plenty more from other neighborhoods, which I will tackle in the next few months. And so I begin at Silver Lake Wine. I love the shops all along Silver Lake Blvd. They are so adorable. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop into Yolk. It’s a great shop to find gifts for the person who has it all.

Come explore this outdoor space!

Higher and higher I go! The trade off for the intense stair climbing (and heavy gasping breath) are the incredible views. Can you imagine living up here and getting some sun and exercise in while climbing down to the Silver Lake Coffee Co to grab your morning brew?

The photo above shows the elevator that leads to this persons home. Isn’t that incredible? I love the color too. How fun- and very Silver Lake.

And what goes up, must go down. I actually went down the wrong set of “secret stairs” and ended up in someone’s back yard. Thankfully no police were called and we didn’t give anyone a fright. It was an honest mistake… which probably happens to them constantly. I hope you get out on this beautiful Saturday! Why not explore some secret stairs?

Secret Stairs Walk #38: Universal City- Happy Trails

—  In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!  —

Today I want to talk about my exploration of the Universal City hills. This walk begins along the busy street of Cahuenga Blvd. Once you walk a few blocks you loop up into the hills, where the sounds of traffic dissipate, the air feels fresher, and it becomes very calm.

I actually made a mistake, took a wrong turn and added a steep detour to my walk. It’s funny how this mistake was very enjoyable (despite the high heat and hill steepness). Spending time walking the hills and secret stairs is so relaxing. All the anxiety of the day just washes away and you feel in the moment. Personally I’m always looking for small details to take photos of and delight in. This means I’m constantly absorbing what I’m seeing, just taking it all in.

For example, if I hadn’t made the mistake of a wrong turn, I would have missed out on this awesome Star Wars windshield cover.

Speaking of secret stairs, how about secret houses? The only marker of this home is the bright red door, a glimpse of a chimney and the trash cans out front. I like to imagine who lives in there and what it looks like. Probably a troll… or some type of Disney character.

Higher and higher I go. The architecture got more unique as I headed up hill.

A friend joined me.

This house is where Kathy Griffith lived (or still lives?) and was featured on her reality show, My Life on the D-List.

The next unique home I came across was of a former wrestler turned designer. I was unable to fit it all the in frame because it was so monstrous and the road was narrow. The entire home is covered in decorative mosaic tile. Also, I think the home owner came home while I was taking photos. It was awkward.

This homes are so interesting and the book said these are where a famous novelist set his superhero’s home. I can’t remember the details, but I love the architecture! I can’t imagine being in one of these during an earthquake. I did enjoy that the glass walls made it so you could see how people decorated these homes (there were several along this hillside).

Per usual, this was another delightful Secret Stair walk.

Secret Stair Walk #37: Hollywood Bowl and High Tower Loop

Time for another Secret Stair post! This time I climbed around Hollywood and explored the maze of secret stairs behind the Bowl.

—  In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!  —

I parked over in the lot for the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which so far hasn’t gotten me any tickets and has been a great starting point for many of the Hollywood Secret Stair walks. I also happen to know one of the volunteers at the museum there, and I think he’d be happy to see that people were using the lot so they could go explore the Secret Stairs. It’s also at the corner here where I ran into another couple also doing a Secret Stair walk. They were doing the Whitely Heights Loop (which I wrote about HERE). We chatted for a little bit before continuing with our walks. I love the stair walking community.

The above photo tells you how this neighborhood got its name. This “high tower” is an elevator that leads 5 stories up, from street level to the many homes that don’t have street access. The book says only 30 some-odd people have keys to this elevator. Further in the post I’ll explain why this is so helpful. This is a steep neighborhood (as you can tell from the photo below) so expect a hearty workout with some killer views that make it all worthwhile. You can see this stuff in a gym, that’s for sure!

You know how I love doors…

The weather was perfect for stair walking: sunny with a slight breeze. The blue sky really brought out the colors of the homes and flowers.

Higher and higher I go!

The photo below shows you where all these hillside homes park their cars. I’m sure many of these homes hidden in the hillside with killer views and a maze of Secret Stairs at their doorways, are worth millions of dollars and yet none have attached garages because they don’t have any streets! Residents have to get these garages where they park their cars far below and then hike up to their homes. I’m sure many people would find this frustrating after a long day at work, but to me it feels like an adventure. Can you imagine getting to your door after the trek up the hill and feeling nestled in this hidden oasis? I would love it. Plus, who doesn’t need a little exercise? Many of these lower streets are lined with garages for this reason.

From this photo you can see it connects with the photo above, and that these garages meet the main entrance to the Secret Stairs in this neighborhood. There’s a map (taken from the book) printed big and framed by this staircase so people can navigate through the maze. Also a neighbor saw me and yelled, “that’s the staircase you want!” with a friendly wave. They must get a LOT of stair walkers here.

Higher I went! Getting closer and closer to the tower.

There she is up close. Isn’t she pretty?

Once you get the 5+ stories up to the top of the landing, you can really get a feel for the maze of a neighborhood that exists up here. Around the corner I saw a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wrights son, and you know how I love doors. I had to share it below.

This neighborhood had so many adorable cute doors and details and I wish I could share them all with you, but I can’t. You’re going to have to do this walk yourself. When houses are hidden behind gates and fences, these elements become an important statement for each home and many homes here took pride in their care and design.

I’m stuck in an office today, but you should go out and climb the Secret Stairs and share your stories with me! I always love a good walking story.

Secret Stair Walk #36: Whitley Heights

Did you like all the Chicago posts? I had SUCH a great time in that city. If you haven’t been, GO! There was plenty of stuff to do on a tight budget, and I can’t wait to go back and see more. Before I jump right into the next leg of my trip, Cape Cod, I thought I’d take a breather and tell you about another Los Angeles Secret Stair walk.

—  In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!  —

I parked near the Gelson’s off Franklin Ave in Hollywood (great free parking in that hood, with few limitations). I included photos from my walk-to-the-walk. For example this photo below was taken under the 101 overpass.

This was also taken there:

Now I’m at my starting point across from the Bowl. I spotted this dumpster behind a fence and had to take a photo. Even the dumpsters are classy here.

Just beyond the designer dumpster, I was greeted by a cat at my first set of stairs along walk #36: Whitley Heights.

This immediately puts you high above the noise and traffic of Hollywood. This whole neighborhood had an old Hollywood charm about it. You can tell there’s lots of history here.

This is also a steep hillside, so many of the homes sit on stilts like the photo shows below. Eek, I would be nervous in that house during an earthquake.

Color fun.

As this looped back down the hill, I enjoyed this sculpture of a man and his dog. I was purposeful with my leaf placement.

This was a very delightful late afternoon trek through Hollywood. It was nice to not be in the traffic I could see far below.

I just love the colors and textures in the photo below, I HAD to include it in the bunch. You can see by the reflection, it’s across from the big vertical “Hollywood” sign along Cahuenga.

Secret Stair Walk #22: Coffee Table Loop (Silver Lake)

Last I just told you about walk #21 (West Silver Lake) and this next walk picks up from there. Just to recap for newbies:

In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!

Secret Stair Walk #22: Coffee Table Loop (Silver Lake)

Walk #21 finishes around Hyperion Ave and walk #22 picks up around Rowena, I figured I would go right from one to the next. This 1 mile stretch of Hyperion is not officially included in the walk, but I enjoyed it so much I included the pictures below. There are so many artistic, well designed shops and restaurants along Hyperion that when you do this walk, I would plan it so you can stop for lunch along here.

All the shops are so original: Barbarella Bar, Pizzeria Lago, Tomboy (kid’s clothing store), Say Cheese (cheese shop),   Broome Street Genral Store (coffee, food, knickknacks)

Rowena Ave is where walk #22 pickup, so right around here in the photos.

You know how I love texture and graphics.

Like walk #21, as soon as I was off the main streets it got very quiet and calm.

It was a beautiful day for a stair walk, so the photos came out so bright and colorful.

The photo below is of the John Lautner designed Silvertop. This home is well known architecturally and iconic to LA. Learn more about the home and architect HERE.

The higher-up I went, the more beautiful the views (and the steeper the climb).

I turned a corner by Landa St. and took a short detour to get this image. I was so nestled walking in the hills I didn’t realize how close I was to downtown. Quite a view, seeing the lake and turning to my right and seeing downtown.

What goes up must come down. I made my way down the hills zig-zagging through the neighborhood until I reached the Silver Lake. At this point it was 5:30p, so all the runners who just got off work were doing their laps around the lake.

One thing Charles Flemming points out, which I didn’t want to miss, was this “V” on the door of not-the-schmanciest house on the block (as you can probably tell from the christmas ornament hanging on the door in June). Under the V is the morse code for that letter, which coincidentally (or not) matches the opening nots of Beethoven’s Fifth. Nice call on making that connection Charles!

As I looped back to Rowena, I made myself a cat friend who I also tried to get out of the street.

That finishes up walk #22! Now get out there, get the book and make your own free (once you own the book) adventures! It’s a gorgeous day, and I’m about to do that myself.