The quintessential LA street


I snapped this shot the other day during CicLAvia as I was walking on 5th Street (which is a pretty darn magical street) near Irving in Windsor Circle. To me, this represents the quintessential (and perhaps stereotypical) LA street, fringed with tall palm trees on either side to infinity.

Quintessentially California.

It’s also incredibly similar to some other shots I’ve taken recently, like this one which is somewhere in Alhambra from LA’s annual birthday walk. This also says “LA” when you look at it.

Beverly Hills has the best palm trees.

I’ve found myself trying to find more of these typical/stereotypical scenes. This one, in Beverly Hills, for example, is good, but I think the addition of the larger, squatter Canary Island date palms makes for a different kind of look. I seem to gravitate towards streets planted exclusively with slender, swaying Mexican fan palms.


So for example, I should probably find out where this was shot.

If you see any good shots of “quintessential LA streets” send them my way. I’m on the hunt for the most LA street in LA.


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Here’s a great shot of Laveta Terrace in Echo Park by Atley Kasky, which just happens to be the same location that the Golden Road label was shot.

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Posted in creating, designing, growing, riding, walking | 7 Comments

Bosom Buddies invented Parking Day

One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles is looking back at the shows and movies I grew up with and realizing how many of them were filmed in LA. Something I might have watched a million times now takes on a whole new meaning as it becomes a game of recognizing buildings and streets in my neighborhood that were supposed to be New York or Chicago.

Lately, I’ve been really enjoying “The Greatest Event in Television History,” where Adam Scott recreates the opening credits of ’70s sitcoms in these incredible shot-by-shot remakes. And while I was watching the Bosom Buddies remake, I had just noticed that this famous scene takes place on Wilshire Boulevard—on this weekend’s CicLAvia route—when I realized something else.

Bosom Buddies invented Parking Day:

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A few decades later, people in San Francisco began feeding the meters and turning parking spaces into parks for the day. But Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari did it first.

Here are some not-as-great-quality shots of the original:

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The parking space is still there, of course, right out in front of Lafayette Park, on Wilshire between Commonwealth and Hoover. If someone doesn’t turn this particular parking spot into a Bosom Buddies homage this Parking Day, I’ve lost my faith in humanity.

And because you’ve absolutely got to see the whole show now, enjoy:

Posted in building, designing, watching | Leave a comment

There’s something in the air


It’s that time of year again, you guys! Easter is only a few weeks away, and it’s going to be even more special than ever before (trust me on this). Head on over to my seasonal Tumblr, PEEP THIS, for more Easter treats.

Posted in crafting, creating, designing, eating, partying | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Walker in D.F.

Super tortas
Motorcycles at the market
Best doors and gates orange green and blue
Museum in a former estate
Yellow bus
Sun and moon of color
Pink courtyardColorful cord
The jacaranda really makes it
La Michoacana
Pink fence
Neon weavings
Path to the garage
Nike store tiles
Double stairs
Red bricks
Crazy loud vendors
Metro signage
Best Metro signage ever
A different type of a subway tile.
Red stripes
Best tile mosaic house
Joy Center
Gorgeous carvingCheck out the bike
Palace des Belles Artes
Pedestrian is King
La Botica
Best menuAnejo
This is our friend Hector. He makes the best chocolate in the world in this little Mexico City storefront. You should keep an eye on him at @lacasatropical, I hear he might be bringing some to the U.S.
Lebna and chocolate
Glowing tower
Love the "gutters"La Casa Azul
Blue bar
Camino Real
Pink fence
So many colorsLobby
Concrete patterned door
Dressing to match the floors.

I was lucky enough to find myself in Mexico City earlier this month to speak at the pedestrian advocacy conference Ciudad Péaton. While there, I fell in love.

Mexico City is like nowhere else on earth in that it’s both European and American, Colonial and Contemporary, Formal and Casual—and it wears all the sides of its personality so well. And the colors. OH THE COLORS. Each block revealed a combination of shades and textures I couldn’t dream up. Although I stumbled upon many special interiors—like Frida Kahlo’s garden, a transcendent chocolate factory, and the Camino Réal hotel—I would say that most of the beauty of Mexico City is how much of the action happens right there in the street, from eating pastor tacos to sipping mezcal to watching musicians to simply seeing a colorfully dressed couple stroll the leafy sidewalks. The residents of D.F. really know how to live, and it shows on every corner.

Thanks to The Lab for inviting me to be part of such an incredible event (500 young people there to talk about walking!) and for showing me around my new favorite place on earth.

More photos here.

Posted in building, creating, designing, eating, speaking, traveling, walking | 5 Comments

Ed Begley Jr. wins the Oscars

Celebrities are always trying to show us how they care about the environment with their fancy Ford Prii, but eco-warrior Ed Begley Jr. (and my walking/biking/bus riding hero) just bested them all: He rode the subway to the Academy Awards tonight.

Begley—who was invited because he’s a governor for the Academy—took the Red Line from the Valley, where he lives in a modest house I’ve written about for Dwell (he’s currently building a new one as part of a new show about sustainable construction). He couldn’t get off at Hollywood and Highland (for out-of-towners: that’s the station right beneath the Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held) because Metro closes it due to security risks, so Begley had to walk along Hollywood Boulevard from the Hollywood and Vine station—with his daughter in heels.

It’s not a far walk—about .8 miles, or 25 minutes—but since that’s also the route most people take to get to the show, they were spotted by several attendees who were—yes—sitting in traffic.

Posted in riding, walking | 2 Comments

Watch my Pencil vs. Pixel interview

As a professional question-asker, I love meeting people who have good questions to ask me. Cesar Contreras is one of those people, so I was honored to be featured on the latest episode of his web series, Pencil vs. Pixel. We chatted about solving problems creatively, the beauty of living in Los Angeles, and, of course, walking. You can read more here, and download the audio, too, if you’d like to take me along somewhere in your earbuds.

Thanks, Cesar, for a great interview!

Posted in speaking, watching | 2 Comments

East of What


It’s a debate as old as time. Or at least as old as Intelligentsia. Some people insist upon calling a large swath of Los Angeles “the Eastside,” which other people don’t think is actually “the Eastside.” This debate has raged on websites, at events, in person, even here on this very blog. Some say “the Eastside” starts east of the Los Angeles River. Others claim it starts somewhere around Western Avenue (that would make sense, right?). Others ask, “East of what?”

But no one—to my knowledge—has ever tried to make an official and binding declaration for where the Eastside is. Until last night.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (my neighborhood, y’all) spent a large part of their agenda last night deciding whether or not Silver Lake was considered “the Eastside.” Curbed LA liveblogged the meeting, quite hilariously I might add, and folks chimed in immediately on Twitter with their thoughts.


Personally, I think my neighborhood has other, larger issues to address (like the fact that everyone incorrectly spells it Silverlake… can we get a ruling on that???), but as someone who runs a nonprofit called design east of La Brea, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

First, a geography lesson, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about:


The issue at hand is that some neighborhoods, specifically Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park all have, in recent years, by various parties, been referred to as “the Eastside.” Many people think that calling that area “Eastside” (which I guess is a newer thing, like in the last 20 years or so) is insulting to the generations of Angelenos who established the culture traditionally known as “Eastside,” which originates more towards the actual area named East LA, but has come to encompass many neighborhoods like Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights and many other heights. These advocates would prefer that you equated “Eastside” with “East of the LA River” (although this logic doesn’t totally work because the LA River takes a sharp turn just north of this map and runs East-West. So you’d have to say, “East of the LA River below Griffith Park and above somewhere before Long Beach” or something—I don’t know).

I’ve marked some areas on the map for additional East/West context. Downtown is right there at the center, and in most cities, the downtown is used to define the “East” and “West” parts of the city. In fact, Broadway, which runs a Northeast/Southwest path through Downtown, is where the addresses change from W. to E. [Update: I was wrong, it's actually Main, two blocks away.] I also added two streets, Western and Eastern, which were actually named two centuries ago when they represented the city’s boundaries and don’t mean much now but boy is that fun to look at or what?

As you can see, on pretty much all these counts, there’s nothing really “east” about Silver Lake. Silver Lake is actually WEST of downtown, which I would say already disqualifies it from being Eastside. Some might say that Silver Lake deciding NOT to be “Eastside” is almost a move to make themselves seem more “Westside,” which should have people living in West LA preeeeetty outraged, if you ask me.

While I’m not sure the “ruling” will solve anything (people have their own definitions of neighborhoods and places and those are tough to change), over at LA Observed, Kevin Roderick brings up another important issue:

Calling Silver Lake and environs the Eastside certainly has its fans, and not just among urban enthusiasts who need a label to fill out the anti-Westside narrative and those other newbies whose grasp of Los Angeles’ construction and backstory is so thin they just see west, east and middle. Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park share enough distinction in common that, despite claiming barely a sliver of the city’s four million population, I’d lump them together as a mini-region if only there were an a useful and adequate name for the place. They don’t belong to downtown, Hollywood or the real Eastside — and the term many like, Faux Eastside, will never catch on. I’ve yet to hear a suggestion that feels real enough to work for both the newbies and for deeper-rooted Angelenos, but I’m still hopeful something will bubble up with more authenticity (and specificity) than Eastside.

It’s funny because when I tell people why I live here, I say something like that. I don’t just live in the walkable, small-town-ish Silver Lake neighborhood, I feel like I live in this three-neighborhood corridor, which pretty much offer all the services I need within a two-mile radius from my house. When people ask me where I live, I always just say Silver Lake, but it might be cool to tell them I consider myself a resident of this entire three-neighborhood region.

And, as we know, people love putting labels on things. So to appease the Eastside proponents, and to help everyone else understand a little more about Los Angeles, I’ve come up with some alternate names for This Area that is Not the Eastside.

New Names for the Los Feliz-Silver Lake-Echo Park Mini-Region

  • Felivecho
  • LoFeSiLaEcPa
  • The West Bank (all three neighborhoods border the west bank of the LA River)
  • Three Lakes District (named for the area’s three lakes: Rowena Reservoir, Silver Lake, Echo Park Lake)
  • Sunset Corridor (named for the street that links all three neighborhoods)
  • East Sunset
  • Sunset Heights
  • Sunset Triangle (both named for the plaza at the center of the region, and for the triangle you make when you draw an area encompassing all three neighborhoods)
  • 101 East
  • The 2/4/704 (named for three buses you can take to get to all three neighborhoods)
  • Red Line West (the neighborhoods in relation to the nearest subway line)
  • Griffith-Elysian (named for the two large parks at either ends of the region)
  • Stairway District (these neighborhoods have the highest concentration of public stairways in the city; would also bring tourism to the area)
  • Coffee District (like the Bicycle District, this area could be known for coffee, or perhaps the Juice District)
  • The Cut (this a very old name for a section of Sunset between Echo Park and Silver Lake where crews blasted away the rock to create a mini-canyon so the road could go through)
  • Edendale (this is an older name for a part of Silver Lake where the film studios were once located, but I don’t think many people associate it with the actual place anymore so it could be reappropriated for all three neighborhoods, which all had film activity; again, would get attention from tourists and history buffs)
  • West Eastside
  • Hipsteria
  • East of What
  • Near Eastside (like Chicago’s Near North, by Pat Saperstein/@EatingLA)
  • Eastside Lite (by Shawna Dawson)
  • Trastevere (by Adam Baer/@glassshallot)
  • Eastside Adjacent (by Jeff Miller)
  • The Mideast Side (by Eric Brightwell, who even has a map, and a very good explanation)
  • Tri-Hipster Area/Tri-Hip (by Seamus Garrity/@masterofleisure)
  • LosSilverDale (by Ed Fuentes/@viewfromaloft)
  • The Weastside (by Ed Fuentes/@viewfromaloft)
  • Brooklyn West (by Avishay Artsy/@heyavishay)
  • Silver Monica (by Dan Koeppel/@bigparadeLA)
  • The Upper East Side (by Tom Marble)
  • Silver Lake Alps (by Larry Gassan)
  • Charneyville (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)
  • Steampunk Row (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)
  • Williamsburg West (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)

Let me know what you think and add yours in the comments or ping me on Twitter to add!

Top image: LA Eastside

Posted in building, riding, walking | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

Hooray for Hollywood

It's hard to break into Hollywood

There’s nothing I love better than showing people around my city, so I was extremely excited to be on the other side of the interview for this month’s“Ask a Local” feature in Sunset, talking about some of the lesser-known Hollywood gems. (Like Lake Hollywood, above. Right? A lake in Hollywood???)

Since I understand that not everything I ran my mouth about could end up in print, I created a guide on Jauntful of all my favorite Hollywood places that you can download and print out, should you be visiting this fine neighborhood sometime soon. You can also click the image below to enlarge and save on your own computer or device.

And please add your favorite Hollywood spots in the comments!


Posted in building, creating, designing, eating, reading, Sunset | 4 Comments

My favorite stories from 2013

#dailybougainvillea #morningwalk

I know, I know—it’s practically 2015! But my week of visiting family for the holidays melted almost imperceptibly into a week in Vegas covering the Downtown Project for Gizmodo. And you know the rule: For each day in Vegas you need at least one day at home to recover. So here we are, three weeks into the new year and I’ve just now had time to catch my breath and take a proper look back at the old one.

As goes the annual tradition, I round up my favorite stories from the previous year (see: 201220112010) and give a little play-by-play analysis. 2013 was fun. It was a year of big changes, even to my own identity—remember, I started the year as Gelatobaby and ended the year as A Walker in LA!—and big steps for causes I care about. It was also challenging in many ways, personally and professionally, which I can only think is a good thing. To toast these shiny new frontiers, I’ve divided 2013 up a little differently, creating categories that include not only things I wrote, but some things I said and did, and some things that were said about me.

The Regular Gigs

In August I started as the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo where I’ve written over 100 stories. Here’s the one that was most popular. Here are two of my favorites I wrote: Her and its vision of a future Los Angeles and the LA Aqueduct’s 100th anniversary, or the mules that built LA.

After writing an article for Los Angeles Magazine about living in LA without a car, I was asked to write a weekly column for their website where I highlight the weird and wonderful things I see while walking around Los Angeles. Like this.

Over at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, I wrote about the most classy and creative women in Los Angeles (not on purpose—they just all happened to be women!): Ellen Bennett, Amanda Chantal Bacon, Tara Maxey and Matt Poley (okay, Matt’s my token dude), and Deborah Sussman.

DnA: Design and Architecture, the KCRW radio show I’ve worked with forever, expanded its format, adding six additional DJ’s—”design journalists”—to report on emerging local designers. I was lucky enough to interview Brendan Ravenhill, Tanya Aguíñiga, Scout Regalia, Jennifer Parry Dodge, Bari Ziperstein, a group of CalArts graduates on their debt-ful futures, and the president of Muji at their new LA store (he loves to ride public transit in LA!).

I love writing for the LA Weekly, where I got to write profiles of two outstanding locals for the annual People issue—the city’s pedestrian coordinator Margot Ocañas and JPL’s Bobak Ferdowsi (who you know better as Mohawk Guy)—a diary of Pacific Standard Time Presents, the Getty’s modern architecture extravaganza, and I even wrote a story where they put my name on the cover, about Arts District real estate visionary Tyler Stonebreaker.


After finding myself fuming about a TOTALLY STUPID article someone wrote about LA, I decided that instead of chastising the clueless writer on my blog, I would reward them for achieving a new level of LA-hatred. The “LA Haterating” series became a cult hit, and I’m sorry to say I had enough material to write five of these pieces. Although I will say towards the end of the year, LA was blessed with some ridiculously generous press and I wondered if I was being put out of business

Becoming a Writer

One of the most popular stories I wrote this year started as a talk I gave around a campfire at CAMP, the new creative business conference run by my friend Sonja Rasula. When I got flooded with emails and tweets asking me to post the story, I was thrilled to publish it on Medium where it still gets shared a few times a month.

Urban Adventures

I had the best year exploring all that LA and its environs had to offer. I hiked Mt. Washington. Took photos of Palm Springs midcentury houses on a bike. Went to a party at Jackie Treehorn’s house. Rode CicLAvia to the Sea. Walked six miles of Wilshire (on National Walking Day!) and produced an audio tour for CicLAvia. I serendipitously bumped into Critical Mass and rode around LA with hundreds of strangers. Kayaked the LA River. I walked (almost) the entire Big Parade. Took a 24-hour camping trip to the desert. Helped lead the annual Design-n-Dim Sum bike ride. Walked nine miles from the San Gabriel Mission to downtown LA for the city’s 232rd birthday. Had a bike decorating contest and ride for my 36th birthday. I helped organize walks all over the city for Walktober.

Since stuff like this is no fun to find out about after the fact, I put together a list of where to find LA stair walks near you. And as always, check out de LaB for fun adventures like the dim sum bike ride and Los Angeles Walks for more walks as well as ways to get involved with our advocacy work.

Other Places I Walked

Sayulita, MexicoMiami. Arizona (twice). France and Switzerland (and Italy for about three hours, although I was on skis almost the entire time). Big Bear. Boston. Santa Barbara. Colorado (four times, including testing out Denver’s B-Cycle bike share in a minidress). Zion National Park. New York City. St. Louis. New Jersey.

Votes of Confidence

Two nonprofits I work with got blessed with support and funding in 2013. design east of La Brea, or de LaB, which features the work of designers and architects working east of La Brea, received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to produce our new series Making LA. And over at the pedestrian advocacy organization Los Angeles Walks, we launched our Hey, I’m Walking Here campaign and raised over $13,000 on Kickstarter.

Talking ’bout Walking

There’s nothing I like running my mouth about more than walking. In August, I was featured in a New York Times article about LA’s pedestrian renaissance. While walking the Big Parade, I was interviewed for the new show City Walk. And I was honored to be on panel on walking for SAG featuring my hero Ed Begley Jr. And while I wasn’t always talking about walking, I loved being a regular guest on the Participant Media/Pivot TV show Take Part Live.

2014 is already shaping up to be a great year. Thanks for reading and for all your support and ideas! Be sure to follow along on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or right here at A Walker in LA to see what happens next.

Posted in writing | 4 Comments

At least one of my Silver Lake wishes is coming true

On days like this, it's a crime that the Silver Lake Reservoir's not swimmable.

Remember back, way back a few months ago where I made that ridiculously long list of some things a newcomer like me wanted for my neighborhood of Silver Lake?

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Remember this item, in particular?

This week, just a few hours after I walked by the Silver Lake Reservoir on a 85-degree day and gazed longingly at its soon-to-be-decommissioned waters, this landed in my inbox:


Swim Silver Lake is a proposal launched by my friend and neighbor Catherine Geanuracos to convert the Ivanhoe Reservoir, which is being taken offline this year due to changing water regulations, into a swim lake and pool.

Obviously, I am thrilled about this development. There’s already a great model in LA for what this can look like, a place called Hansen Dam Swim Lake. And I believe we can do it in a way that supports the naturalization of the shore and preservation of the wildlife habitats around the larger, adjacent Silver Lake Reservoir. You can sign up for more information here.

If you want to learn more about this and other ideas for the reservoirs once they go offline, check out this event tomorrow via the awesome Bruce Chan of the awesome Bruce’s Buddies:

Silver Lake 2020 Pop-Up Presentation
@ Silver Lake Meadow
Silver Lake
By now, most of you have probably heard about some of the awesome proposals for the soon-to-be decommissioned Silver Lake Reservoirs, like most recently Swim Silver Lake (I know, right?) The Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy will be out at the Meadow on Saturday for a pop-up presentation on what is possible (and feasible) for the future of the reservoirs. Stop on by while getting a walk in around this great recreational and ecological amenity for LA.

Posted in building, creating, designing | 1 Comment