On Sunday, October 30, my friends and I did the Mt. Angelus Halloween Walking Tour, known as Stair Street Ghosts.
This was a walk organized by Louisa Van Leer, who was able to get residents of this Highland Park community to unlock the gates to stairs that have been closed for over twenty years. The stairs were opened for one day only, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in California. It wasn’t until a decade later that the rest of the nation granted women the right to vote.
The area, known as Mt. Angelus Tract, was developed in the early 1900’s by Cora Scott Pond-Pope, an activist and suffragette. She was a leader in the suffrage and temperance movements and named many of the stairs and streets after influential people and friends in the suffrage and prohibition movements. In 1987, five of the nine staircases were closed by the Los Angeles City Council after residents complained of criminal activity on the stairs.
Close to a hundred people attended the festivities which included a parade, musicians and people in costume. Maps were handed out for this walk and you could take a self- guided tour or go with one of the other groups that were leading walks. My friends and I went with “Secret Stairs” author Charles Fleming. Musicians sang songs of suffrage and played instruments on and near the stairways. Posters of the people, for whom the stairs were named, were displayed the entrances to the staircases. Some of the residents dressed in costume and had bowls of Halloween candy out.
Since the walk with Charles took around thirty minutes, my friends and I did the walk again, this time with a woman who arrived late and did not do the walk.
We are hopeful that this walk will lead to the stairs being permanently open for all to enjoy.