December 04, 2010

Photo Essay: Lake Hollywood Reservoir

A few years ago, before I started spending so much time here, I met a guy in New York who was visiting from LA. When he asked me what I thought of his hometown, I told him I didn't really like it that much. And then he said to me, "Los Angeles is a hidden city. You have to know where to look. And you probably need a local to show you."

Over the course of this year, I've become almost a local myself, criss-crossing the country every month or two and establishing an existence that's practically bicoastal without having a regular place to stay when I'm out West. And every time I'm here, I set out to discover and uncover some new hidden corner of the city, a placemark on a map no tour guide would ever show his visitors.

Today I found Lake Hollywood.

Yes, Hollywood has a lake. It's actually a reservoir, one of two (the other being Silver Lake) that I know of in the area. But then again, I'm still getting to know LA.

Like many Los Angeles parks, especially the urban ones, I had a hard time finding the entrance. I drove round and round, past runners, walkers and bikers ambling down the side of the road, looking for some opening amidst all the locked gates where I could actually enter the perimeter and not just circle the surrounding roads.

And then I found the East Gate.

The East Gate is one of three entrances to the walkway/bike path that gives you a good view of the surprisingly lush lake.

But still, the lake is surrounded nearly entirely by rust-colored chainlink.

In fact, the entire path feels pretty industrial and urban.

The east side pathway leads you to the south of the reservoir, Hollywood sign hovering behind you, and the Mulholland Dam looming in the distance.

The dam is actually a real highlight, where the walkway continues past the Weidlake Gate and 933 feet all the way across the concrete structure that crosses Weid Canyon.

Just past the gate, though, before you can continue on the access road of the west side, another locked fence appears. In fact, the entire west side of the reservoir to the North Gate is closed due to landslides, so I turned around and retraced my steps back to the East Gate, now facing the Hollywood Sign, which winked at me from behind trees and power lines.

In both directions, Hollywood's locals bade me good morning as they passed me, never suspecting I wasn't one of them.

For more information on the reservoir's history and surrounding areas, click here.

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