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Scattered amongst the bungalows around the mountain slopes of Los Angeles lays a vertiginous set of stone staircases called the Los Angeles Stairs. This series of interconnected staircases are hidden and unknown to most of the city’s visitors and dwellers.
Some consider these external straight staircases as civic treasures and historical relics where famous actors once lived, celebrated screenplays written, and the stairs themselves have earned their rightful place in cinema history as the location for one of the Oscar-winning films of Charlie Chaplin, and a setting in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
Los Angeles hasn’t always been a city of cars. During the 1920’s, when the city is starting to be expanded developers wanted to build up into the hills. Many people at the time couldn’t afford cars. The city developers then created long stone staircases to connect the pedestrian pathways of the lofty hillside to the tram network. By the 1970’s to 1980’s the area became rundown because of disrepair, with the stone staircases becoming a place for criminal activity as well. Some of them had been locked while others remained available as public byways, paid for and maintained by the taxpayer’s money.
Walt Disney worked on the early Mickey Mouse cartoons at his home in Silver Lake. One of the stone staircases was the set of the Academy Award film, The Music Box in 1932 where Laurel and Hardy tried and failed to move a piano to the top. It was an unkempt historical landmark with its simple story marked by a defaced granite plaque inset into one of the lower steps. Also in the 1941 movie, An Ache in Every Stake, The Three Stooges tried to deliver a block of ice to the top of the 147 steps. They reached the top with the ice block melted into an ice cube.
Many online blogs and organisations such as the Los Angeles Conservancy are encouraging visitors and locals to learn the history beneath their feet – Los Angeles never had a reputation as a walking city. The former Pacific Electric trolley service that was closed in 1953 is now being re-laid with an immaculate light railway that will take downtown citizens all the way to the beach without having to bring their cars.
The extraordinary Los Angeles Stairs are proof that transportation relies on many different levels of means, even if they are made of stone. If you liked our post, please follow us on Facebook!
Image courtesy of http://jonsetzen.com/and BBC