Exploring Silver Lake on Two Feet

Views from the top of Silver Lake. Photo courtesy Sarah Stone

Last Sunday, Los Angeles Walks led a walking tour of Silver Lake. Part of the second annual Found LA: Festival of Neighborhoods organized by L.A. Commons, our walk was just one of many exploring neighborhoods across the City of Los Angeles this past Sunday.

As several of our steering committee members live in Silver Lake & Echo Park we chose to highlight the history, architecture, and many public stair streets in the neighborhood we live in. Roughly 25 folks from around LA County, both near & far, joined us for this walk. With Los Angeles Walks founder Deborah Murphy as our guide our tour began at the Sunset Triangle Park. Deborah shared the history of the small park, how the neighborhood worked to transform into a public green space and gave the history of the Streets for People project that transformed one block of Griffith Park Blvd into public plaza.

Deborah leading the tour. Photo courtesy Sarah Stone

We learned how L.A.’s trolley lines shaped the neighborhood and gave Silver Lake the famous Sunset Junction intersection, previously known as Sanborn junction back when the trolley lines still ran along Santa Monica and Sunset Blvds. We stopped by the Black Cat Tavern on Sunset Blvd, where a raid & resulting riots drew attention to gay rights in the 1960s two years before before Stonewall in New York and touched on the importance of Silver Lake residents in the history of gay civil rights movement in Los Angeles & beyond.

Along our walk Deborah shared her passion for architecture and highlighted many of the modernist apartments and houses scattered throughout Silver Lake including the several homes and apartments designed for RM Schindler, John Lautner, and Richard Neutra.

Outside of the Salk Apts designed by Schindler. Photo courtesy Alissa Walker

No Silver Lake tour would be complete without exploring some of the many stair streets that connected people living up in the hills down to the main boulevards to catch the trolley to downtown jobs.

photo courtesy Sarah Stone

Sign up for our newsletter to learn about future Los Angeles Walks neighborhood walks. We’ll likely host another Silver Lake tour as a fundraiser in the near future and we hope to do more of these free walks in partnership with L.A. Commons and other non-profit organizations around Los Angeles.

Found LA Walking Tour of Silver Lake this Sunday

We look forward to seeing many of you on our free “Found LA” walking tour of Silver Lake this Sunday, October 21 from 1-3pm! As a reminder, the walking tour will begin at El Conquistador, located at 3701 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026 [map].

Tickets are sold out for this weekend’s tour but join our mailing list and “like” us on Facebook to learn about our other upcoming events throughout Los Angeles!

—Rachel Bennett

Free Walking Tour of Silver Lake on Sunday October 21

Join Los Angeles Walks and LA Commons for a FREE “Found LA” walking tour of Silver Lake on Sunday October 21 from 1:00 – 3:00pm. The walking tour will begin at El Conquistador, located at 3701 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026 [map]. Tickets are free but reservations are highly recommended. Click here to reserve your spot and learn more! 

Silver Lake is a hilly neighborhood about five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, south of the Los Angeles River and east of Hollywood. The community was served by the Pacific Electric Railroad Glendale Trolley Line until the 1950s, when the trolley lines were dismantled and replaced with modern freeways.

Silver Lake has always been one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse in the city of Los Angeles. It was one of the few communities before WWII that did not have restrictive covenants against ethnic and religious minorities. Silver Lake was the heart of the early film industry with the studies of Max Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, and Walt Disney.

Silver Lake is also known worldwide for its celebrated modernist architecture from renowned architects including Richard Neutra, R. M. Schindler, A.E. Morris, J.R. Davidson, John Lautner, Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and William Kesling. Continuing in that tradition are many current architects including Barbara Bestor, M2A Architects, Michael Lehrer and many others creating 21st century masterpieces.

Silver Lake has a strong base of locally-owned and operated shops, bars, coffeehouses, restaurants, and nightclubs in its varied commercial districts. The residents have been and are varied with many artists, designers, writers, musicians, film editors, and actors including Anaïs Nin, Raymond Chandler, Woody Guthrie.

The Found LA walking tour will explore important historic locations in the community as well as significant residential and commercial architecture, parks, and open space resources. We will discover and enjoy the benefits of locally-owned shops and restaurants, and uncover the secrets of hidden stairways that connect neighborhoods in this hillside community and linked residents to the Red Car Trolley in the early 1900s. Walkers will have the opportunity to see for themselves why Silver Lake is one of the rare gems of Los Angeles and a truly diverse and multicultural community.

Reserve your spot on the Silver Lake walking tour today!

Learn about other upcoming LA Commons walking tours throughout Los Angeles.

—Rachel Bennett