City Walk is a new show on KCET that focuses how a renewed focus on walking is transforming cities across the country. It’s kind of like a skate video—beautiful footage, urban locations, trippy music—but instead of people doing kickflips in public plazas they’re just… walking. I know, it sounds so, like, pedestrian, but it’s actually pretty fascinating—I love geeking out learning about different people, groups and ideas that are making life better for walkers. Los Angeles Walks was featured on the show a few episodes ago, and this week the filmmakers turned their cameras on the Big Parade, that 35-mile, 100+ stairway walk I’ve done for the last five years from Angels Flight downtown to the Hollywood sign. (Proof: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009).
I was thrilled to be interviewed for the show in Vista Hermosa Park (a place I discovered during the first Big Parade) and I talked about all the great friends I’ve met through stairwalking as well as my obsession with taking photos along the way. At 4:48 they even feature a series of images from my Instagram feed that I took during the last Big Parade, which is truly exciting! Thanks to KCET for giving the Big Parade some awesome press. Watch the episode here.
The question I probably get asked the most by people is where and when to find exciting stairwalks in LA, so I compiled this list:
- The Big Parade takes place every year on the third weekend in May. Dan also runs practice walks for the Big Parade throughout the year, like this “mash-up” coming up on August 10. Join The Big Parade on Facebook for updates.
- Then head to the Facebook page of the incredible Robert Inman, who wrote The Guide to the Stairways of Los Angeles (buy it!) and who leads some of the best stairwalks in the entire city, like this one coming up Wednesday night. Bob is the creator of the “Inman 300,” a hike that hits 300 public stairways in the city of LA, which has been completed by several people including Liz Thomas, a famous thru-hiker. There’s also a Blurb book about it you can preview online and buy.
- You can join the Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates to stay on top of the latest walks and also to get involved in some of the issues around maintaining, opening and mapping stairways around the city.
- The Stairstreets group is run by the great Dave Ptach, who lives on one of the most unique stairways in the city (part of it is made from wood!). Every Tuesday he leads the Tomato Pie Walk, details are always on the Facebook page: “Join us Tuesday @ 6:30pm for the Tomato Pie Walk. Meet @ the corner of Hyperion & Tracy in Silver Lake. 90 minutes of stairs followed by dinner. Join for the walk, the pizza, or both!”
- Charles Fleming wrote the book Secret Stairs and pens the LA Walks column in the Los Angeles Times. He leads extremely popular monthly stairwalks which you can find on his Facebook page.
- The first stairwalking book I ever bought was Adah Bakalinsky’s Stairway Walks of Los Angeles. She lives in San Francisco now, where she wrote a guide to their many stairs. Now she’s almost 90 and is still leading stairwalks!
- There’s a Hidden Stairs of LA Meetup group that plans regular walks, some of them in partnership with the Sierra Club. Here’s one in Eagle Rock this Saturday.
- Here’s a map by Doug Beyerlein of all the public staircases in the LA area with 100+ stairs.
- I found a Stairways LA app (Android only) that I wish I could try out but I have an iPhone.
- If you’d rather listen to people climbing stairs, there’s an excellent stairwalking episode of 99% Invisible, Roman Mars’ the fantastic radio show.
- And of course I have to give a plug to Los Angeles Walks, the awesome pedestrian advocacy organization. We’re working on a master list of walking events (that will include more than just stairways) and this is also a great place to get involved if you want to improve walking conditions in your neighborhood.
Outside of LA, there are public stairways in many cities, and these are some of the resources I’ve found for discovering and celebrating stairwalking around the world: PublicStairs.com, Friends of Public Stairs Facebook group, and a list of the longest public stairways in U.S. cities.
Feel free to share your favorite stairs near you in the comments!