Los Angeles is rife with secrets. Many of those secrets rise to folklore, others wash away with the years. Hidden among the hilltop neighborhoods of Los Angeles lay an ignored secret.
Hiding in the shadows of most opulent hill communities are public staircases.
Sure, on the surface that is far from exciting. And quite frequently you would be right to scoff at these stairs. Many have fallen into disrepair, some washed away by landslides from decades ago.
But, I suppose that’s what makes these stairs so important.
The government isn’t going to repair these public stairs. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
So, we’ve taken to these so-called stair hikes to explore the hidden views, beautiful architecture, and unique color use in the parts of LA that are predominantly designed to ward off wanderers.
Recently we set out to the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. Eagle Rock is located north east of the central downtown area.
I should also note that the day we went was overcast, which gave this area a decidedly Portland, Oregon vibe.
Also, when I say we, I mean my girlfriend, Jessie, and I. We’re two young professionals living in Los Angeles and spending our weekends discovering the nooks, crannies, and treasures of this western coast of America.
The main street in Eagle Rock is Colorado Blvd. and just getting to the first set of steps we were greeted with adorable eateries and a quirky drive-in motel, each with a deliberate and varied color set. All so measured, that they stood on the strength of their design choices and didn’t each look out of place.
Once we started up into the neighborhood, the sounds of the city drifted to a memory. The birds then took center stage as we pressed street-by-street through beautifully designed homes and classic cars.
It may have been the overcast nature of the day, but the colors were all alive. We were finding beauty in everything around us.
Since the harsh Los Angeles sun wasn’t able to wash everything out, suddenly rust looked beautiful next to the yellow shed and old blue and cream van. There may have been no visual appeal for this pairing had we done this walk on another day. Perhaps I would have looked up, squinted, and kept moving.
The care for the plants in this neighborhood was impeccable. I appreciate a neighborhood that embraces plants. Imagine street corners blessed with this beautiful array of color:
For those questioning the secret nature of these stairs. It may help to see just how deceptively unwelcoming these staircases can appear.
This set of 39 steps could easily be a part of the person’s house that butts up right against it.
It wasn’t easy to initially work the nerve to boldly begin climbing up a staircase we just found.
Now? We’re seasoned vets.
And it seemed as we rose through the hills, the homes became more and more vibrant.
The local school even bursting with color.
And the neighborhood’s appreciation for the stairs showed through as well.
For those interested and living in the Los Angeles area, we’ve been using a book by Charles Fleming called Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. The book gives 42 different walks around the different neighborhoods of this fine city. Each includes a map and factoids about the historic homes and beautiful architecture.
Written and Photographed By: Chaz Wilke