Found in L.A.: Secret stairs of Silver Lake

John and I have been going on lots of walks lately, and this past week, I took my camera along with me. I used the following series of photos for a class, and there are a whole lot more to break up into a couple of blog posts. There is SO MUCH to explore in my ‘hood, you guys.

Secret stairs in Silver Lake

Contemplating the climb (Photo by John)

I came across my first set of secret stairs while out on a run. I was at the base of a hill, and the road ended at a tiny cul-de-sac. But instead of turning around, I decided to see what was at the top of the nondescript stairs just to the left of a house. It was a long way up, but that could only mean there was a view at the end. Not only did I get that view, but I got a great workout.

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Not long after that, we were at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park, and I picked up a book that not only explained what these stairs were all about, but it also had complete maps of all the stairs in the city with suggested routes. (Turns out, the book Secret Stairs was written by a professor at USC. Hi, Charles Fleming—I’ll be looking up your classes now!)

So John and I checked out a few more. If my consternation in the first photo wasn’t telling enough, those staircases are intense. One near us consists of 137 steps. I’ve been working my way up to running the whole thing without a break. I’m not there yet.

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These stairs were originally constructed in the 1920’s as a way for people to get from their homes to transit lines at the bottom of the hills. When it became a car city, though, the stairs were mostly obsolete. Now, they’re just a great way to explore and quickly get to the top of a hill on foot. Plus, they help facilitate my endless need to spy on all my wealthy neighbors. (I’ll have a post dedicated to the homes in the hills for you soon.)

Turns out, there are a lot of other people interested in trekking up these staircases. There’s a meetup dedicated to hiking them all.

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And, of course, there are the views. It’s hard to capture without a zoom lens, but you could see for miles in every direction from the vantage point below. The gorgeous rolling mountains, the houses nestled in the hill across the way, the tiny cars below (seriously, we were so high up). Totally worth the climb.

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If you come visit me—and I recommend that you do—this is where I’m taking you first. (And then we’ll head to the grilled cheese shop on Sunset afterward.) So bring your walking shoes.

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Comments

  1. Oh my gosh. Old stone staircases? Indie bookstores with coffee and live music? FREAKING GRILLED CHEESE? So…exactly how soon are y’all taking visitors?

  2. This is beyond awesome. Next time I’m in LA, I am making it a point to check these out.

  3. Wow, these secret staircases are so cool! Finding hidden “local-only” quirks makes it easy to fall in love with a new city. Kudos to you for all the walking, climbing, and scouting you’ve been doing!

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Those are definitely the things that get you hooked. I’ve been way more active since moving here—it’s awesome.

  4. Those are so neat! I love stuff like that!

  5. Awesome that you live so close to that set of stairs. I have the Fleming book but haven’t tried any of the walks yet, doh… better get off my tush while the weather’s still good. Hope you’re enjoying exploring the new hood!

  6. oh wow.. that does look intense! i’ve always wanted to check out silver lake. i hear it’s very different from noho. 🙂

  7. Excuse me, did you say grilled cheese shop?! Count me in.

  8. You know, I’ve never really had any desire to visit LA, but you’re making it seem mighty appealing! Plus, if I give it some time, you’d probably be strong enough to just carry me up the stairs of grilled cheese mountain! Bonus.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Glad I can give you reasons to come visit me. I will do my darndest to carry you, but be warned—I have chicken arms.

  9. The stairs are awesome! When you’ve explored enough of them, please write a post about your favourite ones with the best views (and neighbours to spy on) etc. — I’d love to check some out the next time I’m visiting my sister!

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