When someone says “Silver Lake,” you likely have a visceral reaction, a distinct memory, a favorite place. The Silver Lake Reservoir alone houses a dog park, playground, community center, jogging, strolling and picnicking areas. Not to mention that necessity of life, water.
Everyone has their own version of Silver Lake, and for #FastFactsFriday today, here are some fun facts you may not know:
- Red Car Line. One of the more nostalgic pieces of history in Silver Lake is the Red Car Line. The trolley isn’t just in this neighborhood, but there are sections of land that make no sense unless you understand their place in the original trolley lines. Before moving to Los Angeles, all I knew of the Red Car was from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but we can’t blame the toon villain for its demise; the post-war appeal of cars in addition to the unreliability of its service all contributed. Some great historical photos are here.
- Walt Disney’s first studio is now a Gelson’s. Driving on the 5, you can’t miss which buildings house Walt Disney Imagineering and their studios. The Seven Dwarves hold up one building’s roof, and the Sorcerer Yensid’s hat frames the entryway to the Animation Studios. The very first studios that Walt and his brother Roy built, however, were much more modest, and housed in Silver Lake: “two small offices for Walt and Roy Disney, a camera room, and a large partitioned work area for the animators and ink and paint staff,” according to this WDW blog. As their company grew, they expanded until the studios were bursting at the seams in 1939, when they purchased land in Burbank. So yes, a Gelson’s Market now occupies the land where Snow White was created. At least it’s a nice Gelson’s.
- The Trader Joe’s parking lot has its own Peacekeeper. Across the street from that Gelson’s is a Trader Joe’s with a notoriously horrible parking lot. The only thing literally standing between neighbor on neighbor combat is Egee Mabolis. You can always tell it’s him by the safari hat. Even with a complicated upbringing in the Phillipines, Mabolis oozes maturity and calm for anyone navigating that parking lot. He is so beloved, such a necessity to the neighborhood that when he had a bicycle accident (miraculously unrelated to his work) in late 2015, a GoFundMe raised over $30,000 for his medical expenses, not covered by insurance. After a surgery and extended recuperation in the Phillipines, word is that Mabolis - and his signature safari hat - is back at work.
- Some of the best new plays are workshopped and produced here. Los Angeles is a city of angels and arts, with so many intimate theater companies that it’s hard to know which productions deserve your time and money. If you like new stories, and hard hitting topics mixed with comedies about the apocalypse, check out Moving Arts. They are also the home of The Car Plays, a highly inventive experience where the audience sits in cars while the actors perform around them, or next to them, in ten minute spurts. So L.A.
- More pre and postnatal yoga classes than nearly anywhere in Los Angeles. Angelenos are known for their gig lifestyles and odd working hours. So a one-time-fits-all yoga class really only fits into a small fraction of people’s schedules. Enter Silver Lake Yoga, where all times of day -- and budgets -- are offered. With co-owner and certified doula Juliette Kurth at the helm, you can find a comfortable and safe environment that also builds your strength and confidence for labor.
- Oh, yes. Those stairs. The Piano Stairs are named for their appearance in a 1932 Laurel and Hardy film where they (try to) move a piano up the multiple levels of stairs. Once the modes of pedestrian crossings between trolley cars and buses, these stairs are now famous for their art and incredible workout potential. Author Charles Fleming even devoted a walking guide to these historic staircases.
- Writer Director Jill Soloway jokes that her style should be called “Silver Lake Melancholy”. There is no denying the Silver Lake influence in Soloways’ work, ranging from a 2013 award-winning Sundance film Afternoon Delight to her groundbreaking Amazon series Transparent. You know that vibe I tried to articulate at the beginning? She defines it perfectly as a “marine layer melancholy...in the morning, where you can just feel kind of lost.”
Yet clearly, many unique and talented people have found their way to Silver Lake, creating a lasting benefit to all of us.
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