Sunday, February 5, 2012

Photo Essay: Climbing the Hidden Hollywoodland Stairs

I've often said that LA is a hidden city, easy to love if you know where to go. But sometimes even when you know what you're looking for in LA, it's hard to find.

The last time I went to Beachwood Canyon in search of an urban hike along its old Hollywoodland public staircases, I couldn't find all of them. Ultimately, I got nearly hopelessly lost, despite the aid of a GPS that sent me walking in circles.

Last weekend, I went back, armed with a better guide, and my camera.

The first one, on Woodshire, was out in the open, easy enough to find...



...but others were a bit more enshrouded...



...and wedged next to private properties.



Some of the staircases were indicated by a post and reflector...



...but mostly I could only recognize them by their distinctive granite pattern.







Some of the staircases go straight up, with little to no breaks...



...and others have plenty of landings...


...though most of the time I was the only person climbing them (save for one runner).





Going up and down those stairways - sometimes up and down the same ones - I found myself still walking in circles in Old Hollywoodland, but this time on a distinctive path, cutting up and down the Hollywood Hills around which roads have been built to circumvent.



All the while, I got to walk through private backyards, under trees and past landscaping as the sun went down.



I love this Hollywood, this Old Hollywood, this Hollywoodland, that tourists never get to see, and residents rarely explore.

When most people think of "Hollywood," the word - today a metonym for the American movie business - conjures images of smarmy producers, busty starlets, red carpets, and maybe hookers, drunken nightclubbers, and costumed street-walkers. But my Hollywood, the Hollywoodland that I continue to discover, is (still) full of rolling hills, coyotes, a vineyard, a lake, castles, and secret stairways that lead you everywhere and nowhere all at once.

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