Secret stairways in the City of Angels

Los Angeles has long been a popular tourist destination and most people are familiar with spots such as Disneyland, Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Blvd. But L.A. is a vast city with many interesting off the beaten path spots that even longtime residents don’t know about.
My obsession is urban hiking. The cliche is that everyone drives in this city, but walking gives you a whole different perspective and the slow pace allows you to see things that you otherwise would miss. Some of the best urban hikes include  the city’s hidden and forgotten public stair-streets. Most of these stair-streets are found in the older parts of the city – Los Feliz, Sliver Lake and Echo Park. They are remnants of the city infrastructure that was built to provide access to the city’s trolly lines.
Yes, before the automobile came to dominate the city, L.A. had a state of the art rail system (conspiracy theories of the auto industry killing it abound). In the early 1900’s real estate developers would buy entire hillsides and subdivide them and build large staircases for access so they sell the lots for a profit.

Today the trolly lines are gone, and except for the people who live on them, the stair-streets have been all but forgotten. this sense of remoteness in the middle of this huge metropolis is what makes the stairs so intriguing to explore. Some are littered with trash and scared by graffiti and others are a leafy bucolic paradise with stunning views. If you are looking for a cardio workout while you travel and explore the city, this is a great way to do it! The author leads a hike every Tuesday evening, details can be found at Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates. Hope to see you on the stairs!

Words: Dave Ptach
Pictures: My Accidental Discoveries
Stair Walk 6


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