Video: Walking the 'Secret Stairs' of Los Angeles

When this blog launched in April, we set out to share outdoor opportunities in and around Southern California. It was an exciting success from the get-go so we decided test the waters and expand it through online video. Please enjoy our pilot episode of SoCal Wanderer, featuring Jacob Soboroff!

Once crucial infrastructure for Angeleños of the city's public transit era, public staircases became all but forgotten when Los Angeles turned to the automobile. In all, there are hundreds of staircases that connect older neighborhoods together; from downtown to Silver Lake and across the river to Glassell Park, where Charles Fleming last month led a group of about 50 people, including Jacob Soboroff, on a walking tour of area's stairs.

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Fleming, who authored the book "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles," leads such walks every month. The tours are not only an opportunity to get some exercise, but a way to understand Los Angeles a little better, whether if that's through exploring a neighborhood you've never taken the time to enjoy or meeting new friends who share a similar sense of community.

"Secret Stairs," both the walks and the book, have become so popular that Fleming just released a second book that focuses on staircases in Oakland and Berkeley. He also will soon debut an iPhone app companion for the L.A. guide.

Screenshot of 'Secret Stairs' iPhone appAnnouncements for Fleming's walks are made on his Facebook page or by e-mail (misterfleming [at] aol (dot) com). The next walk is this Sunday, July 10th in Silver Lake.

There other stair aficionados as well, a few who also lead walks. Bob Inman published "A Guide to the Public Stairways of Los Angeles," and frequently leads walks that are listed on his Facebook page, and Dan Koeppel takes hundreds of people on an annual two-day hike called The Big Parade (Facebook), which covers close to 100 staircases between downtown and the Hollywood Sign. There's also the Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates, headed up by Dave Ptach, a stairstreet resident himself, and a blog by stair walking fan Karen Wood.

Say hello: "Like" SoCal Wanderer on Facebook and follow @SoCal_Wanderer and @JacobSoboroff on Twitter to talk about latest in outdoors with other enthusiasts.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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I loved this walk and finding out about the Super Secret Stairs. You can read my blog and see photos from this walk on the June 5th Super Secret Stairs posting on my blog


When I moved to Silver Lake in 1984 I started walking the hills every day, and discovered our enchanting stairways one by one. These car-less highways were kind of a different way of appreciating Los Angeles, though in those days a person walking alone was often assumed to be a bum or some other suspicious character. Adah Bakalinsky's 1990 book, Stairway Walks in Los Angeles, provided new ones to explore and helped me prepare for my 1996 LA Times article on favorite stairways. It's too bad Bakalinsky's book has been overlooked in the "buzz," since it was pretty much the granddaddy of the genre. (I guess it's a genre now!) Pre-internet, you had to find these things out for yourself, and do a *lot* of walking. Post-internet, I have to take issue with the notion of "secret" anything in L.A. since many, many people already know about these places. The new books are very nice and draw more people to enjoy the stairways, but we should remember they're following in the footsteps of thousands. :)