Silver Lake

Silver Lake

Zip Codes: 90026, 90029, 90039

In recent years, Silver Lake has become known as the ground zero for the young and hip.  While this may be true, it’s only part of the story.  Silver Lake is a vibrant and eclectic village with its own identity and personality.  It’s a mecca for young artistic types from all around the world, but families as well as longtime residents populate its charming hillside enclaves. The heart of Silver Lake is of course the lake, or in this case, the Silver Lake reservoir, which is the community’s focal point and a popular place for people to jog, bike, or walk. This sparkling body of water and the rolling hills surrounding it make for one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in all of L.A.

Silver Lake boasts homes that cover a broad range of architectural styles and price ranges.  Without question, though, the bottom end of the price range has gone up in recent times. Not so long ago it was a great area for first-time homebuyers to search for a starter home. And while it’s true that such opportunities still exist, the area’s ever increasing appeal, especially to a tier of buyers with deep pockets, has made it a little more difficult than in the past.

Market - Quick Stats 

  • Average listing price for home: $838,551   (Wk ending July 4 2012))
  • Median sale price for home: $580,000    (Apr 12 to June 12 2012)
  • % Change from 1 year ago:  -1.4%
  • % Change past 5 years:  -17%
  • Avg price per square foot: $398
  • Greater L.A. Avg price per square foot: $282

LOCATION AND HISTORY

Silver Lake MapSilver Lake is an area of 2.75 square miles situated east of Hollywood and five miles northeast of downtown with a population of approximately 33,000.  Its geographic boundary on the south is the 101, or, Hollywood Freeway; Benoit Way and Glendale Boulevard on the eastern edge; the I-5, or the Golden State Freeway to the north; and Hyperion Avenue to the West.

The district gets its name from the Department of Water and Power's Silver Lake Reservoir, which was named after Herman Silver, a member of LA's first Board of Water commissioners. LA-DWP established these reservoirs in the early 1900’s as part of the citywide system of water storage and delivery.

Before the turn of the century, Silver Lake was named “Ivanhoe” by Scotsman Hugo Reid, who was reminded of his native Scotland upon seeing the rolling green hills of the area. He chose the name after the famous Scottish novel Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott.  The legacy of the area’s Scottish connection remains to this day, with many of the streets in Silver Lake having Scottish names or names that are related to characters from the novel, such as Herkimer, Rowena, Kenilworth, Ben Lomond, Hawick, St. George (as in St. George and the Dragon, a popular Scottish legend).

The majority of the neighborhood’s streets were laid out in the 20′s, following the contours of the hills. The era was the starting point for a great variety of architectural styles and modernist experimentation. Private homes and apartment complexes by Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Raphael Soriano, Allyn Morris, and other modern innovators are well represented. Many architects such as Lautner, Neutra, Morris, and Eugene Kinn Choy designed and built their own homes in the area.

For the past century, Silver Lake has been historically progressive in its acceptance of racially and ideologically diverse peoples.  Harry Hay’s Mattachine Society and the Black Cat Bar, thought to be originating points of the gay rights movement in Los Angeles, were also located in the neighborhood. 

Freeways and Public Transportation

Freeway access is a snap in Silver Lake. Its enclosed by the 5 freeway on it’s northern border, the 101 on its southern border, and the 2 freeway along half of its eastern border.  The two nearest Metro stations are Red Line at Vermont & Sunset and the Blue Line at Vermont and Santa Monica.

DINE, HANG OUT, SHOP

Silver Lake, Sunset JunctionThere are three primary commercial strips within Silver Lake – Sunset Boulevard, Hyperion Avenue, and Silver Lake Boulevard.  But without question the energy center for the neighborhood is Sunset Boulevard, with Sunset Junction being the nerve center.  Here are a sampling of places to go and things to do throughout various parts of the neighborhood.

Akbar

Rated “LA’s Coolest Bar” by Los Angeles magazine, Akbar is a draw for hip gay and straight locals alike.  Its casual come-as-you-are vibe and eclectic jukebox selection keep this watering hole busy every night of the week.  The bar features a separate room for dancing that’s put to use on most nights. Akbar also plays host to an alternative comedy night on Tuesdays, which has seen the likes of Margaret Cho and other familiar faces from television and national tours.

Cliff’s Edge

Cliff’s Edge is a retreat to nature in the midst of an urban atmosphere.  Located on Sunset Boulevard, right next to Sunset Junction, Cliff’s Edge features a patio awash in greenery and built around a huge ancient tree.  The menu of elegant, rustic food is also seasonal with an emphasis on local organic ingredients. Cliff’s edge offers a delicious menu of signature cocktails in the summer, every Thursday night is Oyster night.

Amsterdam Modern

Amsterdam Modern is a veritable treasure-trove of mid-century modern furniture, lighting, and household goods from the 1950s through 70s.  They purchase their stock from off-the-beaten-path stores and markets or receive it in slightly weathered form from private sellers.  Amsterdam Modern has become a go-to a source for TV and film productions, including TV’s definitive timepiece of mid-century cool, “Mad Men.”

Lamill Coffee

Lamill Coffee, Silver Lake This minimal, modernist hub feels like a café disguised as a coffee laboratory. Lamill is a place to visit if you love coffee.  Alongside its delicious breakfast, lunch and diner menus, they offer individualized, French-press tea or coffee selections with exotic names such as Burundi Kayanza, Organic Black Onyx, and Colombia El Meridiano Micro Lot.  But there’s no need to feel intimidated or overwhelmed: you can also fall back on a cup of their house blend.

Tomato Pie Pizza Joint

Offering one of the 25 Best Pizzas on Earth according to GQ food critic Alan Richman, this Silver Lake pizzeria is a slice of New York culinary excellence in a city where great pizza can sometimes seem scarce.  It’s worth enjoying it at the restaurant, for its colorful, mid-century modern patio, or on those nights when you’d rather not venture out, Tomato Pie Pizza Joint delivers.

Farmers Market

You can pick up your produce, bread, jams, and other goodies fresh on Saturdays from 8:00am – 1:00pm at the Silver Lake’s Certified Farmers Market.  Booths are set up on the green pavement of Sunset Triangle park (Sunset and Edgecliff). Its size is modest compared the Hollywood market, but the quality is very good. In addition to food, you can also find crafts and gifts made by locals.  

The Silver Lake Jubilee

The Silver Lake Jubilee, still in its relative infancy, began as a response to Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction street fair but has become a new annual tradition in its own right.  Held over Memorial Day weekend at the intersection of Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards, the Silver Lake Jubilee is a great place for people watching and sampling local edibles.  The event also has the sponsorship of KCRW and Amoeba Music, so music plays an important role.  Performances by new up-and-coming bands are scheduled throughout the weekend.  2012’s event included a set by Aloe Blacc, who sings the theme to HBO’s “How to Make It in America.”

Edendale

The Edendale Grill is much like Silver Lake itself: simultaneously contemporary and historical.  Visitors immediately marvel at the structure itself of Edendale, which is an historic landmark that served as the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Station 56 from 1924 to 1989 and was converted into a restaurant/bar in 2002.  2010 brought a management change and a revamped menu that includes a fusion of tastes from the American South, Asia, the Mediterranean and Latin America.  They’ve still retained their happy hour, which is a lure for area hipsters.  But with its romantic setting and sophisticated menu and wine list, it’s a great place for a nostalgic date.   

Silver Lake Conservatory of Music

Silver Lake ConservatoryWhile its name may evoke cello-playing prodigies, The Silver Lake Conservatory of Music is for everyone.  It’s been serving the community for ten years, with an aim of helping lower income local students with free lessons and instruments provided via grants and scholarships.  The school also offers one-on-one lessons for people of all ages.  And if you happen to be a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Metallica, you’ll be happy to know that Anthony Kiedis and Flea – both Red Hot Chili Peppers – are on the board of directors. 

Gingergrass

Gingergrass is a cool, yet casual, Vietnamese restaurant that attracts a lot of the area’s fashionable residents.  Atmosphere aside, people keep coming back for their excellent food and signature beverages, including the Basil Lime Elixir, Blood-Orange Elixir, and Gingergrass Ginger Ale.  They also serve classic Vietnamese dishes such as pho, Vietnamese spring rolls and Vegetable Curry Clay Pot.  Herbivores will delight at the abundance of vegetarian options while there is still plenty of fare for the meat-eater. 

The Silver Lake Picture Show

Every other Wednesday in the summer, you can join your Silver Lake neighbors for an outdoor movie screening in the Silver Lake Triangle Park, located at the intersection of Griffith Park Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.  This free, bimonthly night of cinema under the stars is the collaboration of LA City Councilman Eric Garcetti’s office and the Silver Lake Improvement Association.  The park, which opened in May 2012, is Los Angeles' first "street-to-plaza" conversion.  Most of the new park originally was a two-lane swath of pavement that carried motorists along Griffith Park Boulevard.  History aside, it’s a fun night to enjoy contemporary and classic movies in a fun, unique setting.

Parks and Recreation

Silver Lake, Recreation CenterSilver Lake Reservoir

Silver Lake Reservoir – the actual “Silver Lake” - is a source of water to 600,000 homes in downtown and South Los Angeles.  But it has also emerged as a community focal point for socializing and recreation.  The Silver Lake Recreation Center, which features a basketball court, is on the south side of the lake.  There is also a walking and jogging path, which stretches 2.2 miles around the reservoir. In April 2011, the City of Los Angeles opened up a three-acre park on the east side of the lake, modeled after the Sheep Meadow in New York's Central Park. Named the "Silver Lake Meadow," it immediately became a welcome addition to the area.

Silver Lake Dog Park

Just because we live in a big city, that doesn’t mean dogs can’t enjoy running around in wide-open spaces.  Silver Lake Dog Park is a 1.25-acre off-leash dog park where your four-legged friend can socialize with other dogs and run around and burn off all their extra energy. The dog owners are friendly and social, and the double-gated entry makes sure that dogs and their owners can safely enter and exit the park without any worry about runaways.  There is also a doggie pool for those hot Los Angeles summer days.

Secret Stairs

Silver Lake, Secret StairsLos Angeles is marked by hills that offer stunning views and breezes that refresh, particularly in the summer.  So, naturally, people have wanted to live in them from the get go.  As the city’s neighborhoods pushed their way into the hills, the residents needed a way to easily get to and from their homes.  The solution was a network of concrete stairways, built mostly in the 1920’s. Some of their locations were chosen for their proximity to trolley lines. Although the trolleys are gone and the hills’ slopes are lined with paved streets, many of these stairways remain today.  In fact, there are still many homes today whose access is solely dependent upon a staircase.  With over 50 staircases, the eastside (Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz) has the highest concentration of these stairways in the city.  And some of them are doozies – with the longest being 231 steps. “The Music Box” steps were made famous by Laurel and Hardy in their 1932 Oscar winning short film of the same name. In the film, the duo flounder and crash their way up a 131-step climb from Vendome Street to Descanco Drive while moving a piano.

SCHOOLS

Silver Lake residents are zoned to the following schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District:
·     Allesandro Elementary
·     Betty Plascencia Elementary
·     Micheltorena Street Elementary
·     Clifford Street Elementary
·     Mayberry Street Elementary
·     Rosemont Avenue Elementary
·     Bellevue Primary
·     Lockwood Avenue Elementary
·     Dayton Heights Elementary
·     homas Starr King Middle
·     Washington Irving Middle
·     Virgil Middle
·     Washington Irving Middle
·     Virgil Middle
·     John Marshall High
·     Belmont High

Noteworthy Silver Lake Architecture

Though the area of Silver Lake is not that large, it is chock full of exemplary residential architecture. In fact, the area has been a sort of mecca for many of the most highly regarded architects of the 20th century. Schindler, Neutra, Soriano, Ain, Lautner, Harris, and others have all made a mark here. Not only are the hills surrounding the reservoir dotted with homes that they designed, but many of them chose Silver Lake for their own homes.

Neutra VDL Studio and Residence                                                 2300 Silver Lake Blvd.   1933 / 1964    Richard J. Neutra

Silver Lake, Neutra VDL Studio The home and studio of architect Richard Neutra is at 2300 Silver Lake Boulevard.  The home was originally completed in 1933 and doubled as his office until opening a design studio nearby on Glendale Boulevard. Considered to be extreme at the time, it set a new standard in design and is a much beloved structure today. Damaged by a fire in 1963 it was rebuilt by his son Dion.  Named for Van der Leeuw, a patron of Neutra’s who loaned him the money to build the house, it has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. It’s currently owned by Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design and tours are available weekly.

Colony of Neutra Houses –  Richard J. Neutra

Just down the street from the VDL is a series of homes, one after the other, all designed by Neutra between 1948 and 1961.  Half of them are along Silver Lake Boulevard and the other half are found on, you guessed it, Neutra Place, which runs directly behind the homes on the Boulevard.  You won’t find a more dense collection of his homes anywhere on the planet.

Silvertop - 2138 Micheltorena St.    1957     John Lautner

Silver Lake,Ain Avenel ComplexResting atop a hill overlooking the Silver Lake reservoir is the Reiner Residence, also commonly known as “Silvertop”.  This signature work of Lautner’s is easily spotted by the prominent and graceful line of its concrete dome roof.  Between design and construction, the house was 10 years in the making and marked a new direction for Lautner with his “discovery” of concrete. Unfortunately, the best view of the house is  through a pair of binoculars from the other side of the lake.

 

How House - 2422 Silver Ridge Ave.   1925   R. M. Schindler

Silver Lake,Schindler How HouseBuilt in 1925, the How House stands out as one of Schindler’s more distinctive homes in the area of Silver Lake.  The home has a great balance of concrete, redwood, and glass and has been skillfully restored to original beauty.  It was named a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 2007 and it most recently sold in April 2012 for $1.3 million.

 

 

Avenel Housing Cooperative – 2839 Avenel St.   1948   Gregory Ain

Silver Lake,Ain Avenel ComplexA 10-unit housing cooperative built in 1947, the Avenel complex is a distinct accomplishment in design toward efficient living.  Situated on a hillside, each unit enjoys views, privacy, and a fluid indoor-outdoor design ingeniously accomplished through the use of sliding interior walls and sliding floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead to the patio. These homes are a work of art, evidenced by the number of years its owners remain as residents. The homes were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Canfield-Moreno Estate – 1923 Micheltorena   1923   Robert D. Farquhar

Also known as The Paramour or the Crestamount, the Canfield-Moreno Estate is a historic residence built in the Mediterranean Revival style. Dituated at the top of hills on the west side of the reservoir, this area came to be known as the Morena Highlands. Built in 1923 as a residence for silent film star Antonio Moreno and his wife and oil heiress, Daisy Canfield Danziger, the sprawling villa was the setting for lavish high society parties. At 22,000 square feet of living space, it’s a perfect example of 1920’s grandeur in Los Angeles.  Today the mansion is used as a recording studio.

Astro Coffee Shop –  Glendale Blvd & Fletcher Dr.   1958   Louis Armet and Eldon Davis

Louis Armet and Eldon Davis are known for their contributions to Southern California’s wonderful supply of Googie architecture and have been referred to as “the Frank Lloyd Wright of 50’s coffee shops”.  A fine example of their work can be found at the southeast corner of Glendale Boulevard and Fletcher Drive. Built in 1958, Astro’s coffee shop has gone thru a few changes in ownership over the years (originally it was Donly’s, and then Conrad’s), but its essence remains.  Among the many famous designs of Armet and Davis are Johnie’s Coffee Shop on Wilshire and Fairfax, and Norm’s on La Cienega.