Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stairways of LA

We were in our neighborhood independent bookstore recently and saw on display "Secret Stairs - A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" by Charles Fleming.

Most people don't realize it, but Los Angeles is a hilly town. The city of L.A. pushes up against the transverse range of the Santa Monica Mountains like a carpet pushed up against a wall. Its residential streets climb, twine and curve up the foothills, plunge down steep canyons, circle the peaks, and arch over the ridges.

The streetcar lines ran along arroyos and gullies that carved their way through the hills as did the major driving thoroughfares. City planners were kind to hill-dwellers instead of forcing them to trudge miles along switch-back streets, they built public stairways so people could walk directly down to the streetcar lines. Most of these stairs remain today, although most people don't know they're there.

Author Charles Fleming offers 42 walks through the city using these public stairs to guide you through little-known neighborhoods. We decided to start following his guide for a closer look at L.A. You can visit his website for pictures and to buy the book.

I'm not the first blogger to follow in Fleming's footsteps. Robert Guerrero at ClimbingLA has been following Fleming's guide since May of this year. Visit his blog for a preview.

It's going to take me a while to catch up with him!


Susan B said...

This looks like a cool book, will have to check it out. I'm always looking for interesting placed to walk in LA.

M. Bouffant said...

Quite a few of these in Silver Lake & Echo Park, though some have, sadly, been closed off due to homeowners.

Also of pedestrian note, there are (again, now closed off or filled w/ concrete, even) tunnels crossing under Sunset & Santa Monica Blvds. (If not others as well.) so children could get to elementary school in safety. Some of them were still open in the late '70s. And pissy even then.

Robert Guerrero said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog. It really has been quite an experience and I wish you happy walking!!

Charles G. Thompson said...

I walk with Robert of Climbing L.A. It's so nice to meet another stair walker/blogger. Hopefully our paths will cross one day! Happy Stair Walking!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I never knew about these, as a visitor to L.A. of all about 1 or 2 times (for work, so I didn't get to see nothing!).

I take the stairs up to the 12th floor when I don't do anything more for lunch than go down to the cafe on the ground floor of the office. And that is just a boring, interior fire escape.

How much nicer it would be to take these stairs...

Nej said...

Isn't there a race....10K, marathon, something...that is all stairs in LA??? Maybe I'm making that up, but I swear I read about it somewhere. Craziness!!! :-)