I’m a huge fan of The Bold Italic’s San Francisco street corner series. One of the latest — My Favorite Corner of SF: Carl and Cole — resonates hard because I lived just a few blocks away, at Cole and Hayes when I lived in The City. I always envied my Cole Valley neighbors.
Thanks daisy barringer for the fantastic work.
Anyhow, I live in Los Angeles now. And I love it. So I’m going to humbly steal the street corner idea and adapt it to Los Angeles.
I’ll present the Los Angeles series in one of two ways:
- A practical guide using a street corner as a starting point for exploring this great city.
- Using a Los Angeles street corner as the setting to chronicle a meaningful story or formative period from my personal life. I took this approach in installment one of what I guess will become a series:
My Favorite Corner of LA: Melrose and Gardner
Much of my life in the last three years happened here — and continues to happen
Los Angeles impacts me, meaningfully, in both ways.
In this article, we look at Micheltorena and Sunset in Los Angeles’s Silverlake neighborhood — the ideal starting point for a solid urban hike.
I fell in love with Los Angeles one of several times at this corner.
There truly isn’t a better starting point for a hike in urban America. It’s also where I shed most of my San Francisco bias.
My San Francisco friends love to chide Los Angeles. It’s flat. There are no hills!
If you walk straight ahead in that picture — you’ll be going north on Micheltorena — you climb a 20.3% grade to the top. You wind up in a beautiful residential neighborhood. Like so much of Los Angeles, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, except you’re only minutes on foot from some of the busiest mixed-use streets in America.
Funny enough, the Micheltorena hill isn’t even on the top ten list. Even funnier, Los Angeles has — based, at least, on the top ten list — steeper hills than San Francisco:
However, according to fixr.com, here are the ten steepest streets in America:
Waipio Rd. in Honokaa, HI — 45% gradient
Canton Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA — 37% gradient
Eldred St. in Los Angeles, CA — 33.3% gradient
28th St. in Los Angeles, CA — 33% gradient
Baxter St. in Los Angeles, CA — 32% gradient
Fargo St. in Los Angeles, CA — 32% gradient
Maria Ave. in Spring Valley, CA — 32% gradient
Dornbush St. in Pittsburgh, PA — 31.98% gradient
22nd St. in San Francisco, CA — 31.5% gradient
Filbert St. in San Francisco, CA — 31.5% gradient
I lived a block away from the 22nd Street climb in San Francisco. It’s sick.
Anyhow, if you go in the other direction, you walk up this beautiful staircase (actually two sets of staircases) into one of Silverlake’s coolest residential sections.
If you wander when you’re up there, you’ll see stuff like this.
At first, you feel like you’re not in Los Angeles.
Then, after seeing stuff like this a few dozen times, you realize this is Los Angeles. You come to understand this city doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets from not only San Franciscans (I love San Francisco!), but everybody from urban planners to its own residents.
If you don’t take time to explore a city — on foot — you’re doomed to believe the inaccurate statements we have come to accept as fact.
If you’re ever in Los Angeles, I suggest starting at Micheltorena and Sunset and taking the steps all the way to the top. From there just keep making lefts. You’ll get a great view of Downtown just after the stairs once you prepare to make your first left.
You’ll curve through a residential neighborhood, pass the Music Box Steps (yep, another of Los Angeles’s many staircases), and make an obvious right to get back onto Sunset Boulevard. After a left on Sunset, you’re about 10–15 minutes from Micheltorena.
Once you get back to the corner, go north to take the aforementioned hill. It’s a workout. Cool down by exploring the neighborhood before making your way back down the hill to grab coffee at one of the many great coffee shops that line Sunset Boulevard.