Sheats-Goldstein home tour

I had the rare opportunity to tour the Sheats-Goldstein residence in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles.  There were many steps andcement stairs steos downstairs leading to the lush jungle below the house that it deserved to be included in my stairwalking blog. I also wanted to share the amazing beauty and greenery that surrounds this house.arch

This glass house, which is surrounded by a lush jungle below, has been featured in movies such as “The Big Lebowski” “Charlies Angels Full Throttle” and music videos including Snoop Dogg’s “Lets Get Blown.”

man at point

Sculpture of architect John Lautner

The home sculpturewas the site for third installment of French artist Xavier Veilhan Architectones project in Los Angeles.  Xavier Veilhan studio and Galerie Perrotin organizedliving room the show and  local architect Francois Perrin was the curator.  It is where art meets architecture. pool Some of the art pieces Xavier installed included an iron sculpture located in the lavish gardens and cords stretched in space over the swimming pool. man on deckXavier Veilhan was struck by the beauty of the home and how it interacts with nature.  A green aluminum sculpture of architect John Lautner was installed on the end of the triangular shaped master bedroom that juts out offering a panoramic view of Los Angeles.

The home was built by architect John Lautner in 1963. Lautner studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and this home is considered a masterpiece.  In 1972 dining roomJames Goldstein purchased the home and commissioned John Lautner blue triangleto do remodeling.  moss stepsJames is constantly adding and having some kind of work done on the home and property.   I was told it is a never ending project. tennis court

The house is not noticeable from the street or from the driveway. I arrived and had valet park my car.  Then I walked down the long driveway with flourishing plants on either side.

view from tennis court

view from tennis court

It reminded me of Costa Rica. Still not able to see the house trumpet treeI continued walking down the long curved driveway until I came to the garage. koi fish 2 The entrance to the

Walkway over koi pond

Walkway over koi pond

house is next to the garage and you walk down a little walk way that goes over a pond filled with koi fish and turtles and leads to the front door.

I was grateful to be able to tour this magnificent home lounge chairsand I look forward to seeing other homes designed by John Lautner and exhibits by Xavier Veilhan.

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Peanut Lake

My friendsImage and I joined about 100 stariwalking fans for Charles Fleming’s April walk. Charles Fleming is author of “Secret Stairs-a Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and he leads a stairwalk the first Sunday of every month.  He did a variation of stairwalk #6, Hermon, and took us to Peanut Lake.   

Hermon is a small community bordered by the 110 freeway in Los Angeles and South Pasadena. Image It was established in 1903 by the Free Methodists church group who bought the land to establish a school.  Today this community has a population of 3500 and has a small town feel.

Charles only found out about Peanut Lake a couple of months ago and I’ve never heard of Peanut Lake until Charles mentioned it as his April stairwalk.   This walk was actually a lot different than the stairwalk in his book.  Unlike the one in the book, Imagewe didn’t pass through downtown Hermon but instead took some stairs that led us to a path and a fire road leading up to the top of the mountain.  There are no signs indicating which way to Peanut Lake or that there is even a lake.  Image From here you can take in a great view of downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains.  My friend Lili kept saying how she felt like she was in another country.  It really has a mountainous Imagefeel and look to it. I don’t know how the lake came to be and neither did Charles.  In fact, most of the people in the group never heard of Peanut Lake.  Charles said to the group that he enjoys introducing people to new places.  I am so glad for these stairwalks because I get to see and explore places I never knew about. 

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Peanut lake

As I was walking I could see a lot of other trails going who knows where.  ImageI will return here one day with friends and hike some of the other trails.  Of course I will take the road leading to Peanut Lake.

For more information about Peanut lake and how to get there go to Charles Flemings article in the Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/19/health/la-he-la-walks-debs-park-20130119

 

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Stairwalk with Charles Fleming and Bungalow Heaven

For his February stairwalk, “Secret Stairs” author Charles Fleming, took stairwalking enthusiasts to Mt. Washington, which is walk #5 from his book.

Charles Fleming

Charles Fleming

Charles met everyone at the metro station and we did the walk in reverse than what it is in the book.  It seemed easier this way since we were walking down some of the longer stairs instead of up.  After about what seems to be half way, a woman who lives in the area saw us and suggested to Charles that we take a short cut across a field.

stairs up stairs downHe had heard about this shortcut but didn’t know exactly where it was so the woman led us. arched plant

Shortcut

Shortcut

Actually, I was a little out of breath after climbing up the stairs and was glad Charles decided to take the shortcut.

After taking the shortcut we arrived at the Self Realization Fellowship.  Formerly the Mount Washington Inn, the bankrupt property was bought by Paramahansa

Former Mt. Washington Inn

Former Mt. Washington Inn

Yogananda in 1925 and turned into the international headquarters for SRF.  The Center, closed Sunday mornings for services and meditation, was closed when we arrived.

Self Realization garden

Self Realization garden

I have been to the SRF a couple of times and on previous visits was able to stroll the beautiful grounds with its meditation garden, Japanese garden, and wonderful vista of Mount Washington and surrounding areas stretching out as far as the eye can see.  SRF is open every day.  On Sundays it opens at 1:30.

A railroad took visitors from the bottom of Mount Washington to the hotel.  The roads were unpaved dirt roads and with the advent of the automobile, the dirt roads weren’t accessible by car. Also with the automobile, people were traveling further distances.  Eventually, the railway company declared bankruptcy and the hotel closed. The

Outside gate of Self Realization Fellowship

Outside gate of Self Realization Fellowship

train’s ticket office is now an apartment building and sits across the street from the Southwest metro stop.   It is here that Charles ended his walk.

Metro station

Metro station

My friends and I hopped back on the metro and took it a few stops where we got off and walked to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

Hearing rave reviews about the food, I have always wanted to eat here.  In 2012, the restaurant was voted best soul food in Pasadena and CBS declared it

Roscoes Chicken and Waffles

Roscoes Chicken and Waffles

as having the best macaroni and cheese.  Roscoe’s did not disappoint and we all enjoyed our food immensely.

Afterwards we continued our journey and walked a short distance to an area known as Bungalow Heaven.  These early 20th century craftsman style homes were built during the arts and crafts period and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  We were able to go inside a couple of these homes; one was for lease and the other for rent.

house3 house2 house1

I’m not sure how many miles we walked but it was a full eight hours, minus the time we were sitting to eat.  I sure felt it in my legs the next day.

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January stairwalk

For the first stairwalk of 2013, the Secret Stairs meet up group did stairwalk #25, Swans Way, Imagefrom the book “Secret Stairs—A Walking Guide to the Historical Staircases of Los Angeles” by Charles Fleming.  This walk offers great views of Silver Lake Reservoir and downtown Los Angeles. There arecactus garden also many interesting houses with a variety of architectural styles.  According to the book, this area has some of the longest, steepest staircases in the city.  Often times you can see people training and doing cardio on these streets.   Just walking them Imageis a workout in itself.  After the walk we returned to our starting point, Lamill coffee.  There was a optional walk for those who wanted to do a fast workout pace.  My friends and I chose to eat breakfast at Lamill.  Lamill coffee has a large selection of coffee’s from around the world.  After breakfast we browsed through the stores and boutiques on the block.  Yolk is one of the interesting stores we went in.  It has a nice selection of unique Imagegifts—candles, pillows, books, slippers with rabbit ears made from alpaca and a children’s Imagesection towards the back of the store.  It’s hard to miss Yolk with its brightly colored building—blue with yellow stripes, a bright yellow door and white with red stripes.

Across the street from Yolk is a metal sculpture located between 2 buildings.  The sculpture was designed by Materials and Applications Architecture and Research.   The goal of sculpturesculpture and chairsMRA is to increase public participation in the built environment and to inspire visitors to examine their surroundings while they explore the latest ideas in architecture and design.  For more info on MRA and sculpture 2the sculpture, visit http://www.emanate.org.

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Hollywoodland

For my last stairwalk of 2012, I took my niece on her first stairwalk.  beachwood stairssteps I chose Beachwood Canyon, walk #34, from the book “Secret Stairs” by Charles Fleming, because this is one of the most beautiful staircases I’ve seen. mural-on-house I also love the neighborhood with the different architectural styles of the homes and the stunning views of Hollywood, Griffith Park Observatory and downtownview Los Angeles.

Debbie Reynolds house

Former home of Debbie Reynolds

One of the first things my niece noticed was the homes were all different styles, and not made from one cookie cutter design.   I told her that is one of the main reasons I like these stairwalks.  One of the famous homes on this walk was previously owned by Debbie Reynolds.  Next to that houseReservior'jpg is a trail that leads to Hollywood Reservoir.

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Hollywoodland arch

The 148 step staircase is cut from the same granite stone the Hollywoodland arches are made from.  Beautiful planters and benches line the middle of the stairs. At one time a stream ran down the middle.

Located at Beachwood and Woodshire drive, this is a cultural-historical landmark.  A plaque at the bottom dates its construction as 1928.

Hollywoodland was intended to be a gated community with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and riding stables.  Residences were tosign include Bugsy Siegel, Humphrey Bogart, and Bela Lagosi.  The stone arch that was to be the entrance to Hollywoodland still stands. From here you can see the famous Hollywood sign.  The sign was erected in 1923 to advertise Hollywoodland.  4,000 light bulbs were embedded in the sign that spelled out “HOLLYWOODLAND” and flashed “HOLLY” then “WOOD” then “LAND” repeatedly.  In the late 1940’s efforts were made to repair the sign.  Hollywood signThe Department of parks removed the “LAND” portion and the light bulbs because the electricity would have been too costly.  Since then the sign has undergone several renovations with letters being replaced and repainted. ImageCelebrities including Hugh Hefner, Alice Cooper, and Gene Autry are a few of the celebrities who have donated money to save the sign.

Oh how I wish I could have seen the sign with its flashing bulbs back in its heyday.

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Stair Lighting Ceremony

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Tom La Bonge

On Monday, January 9th, I and two of my friends attended the stairway lighting ceremony for the St. Andrew stairs in Los Feliz, California.  It was a small gathering of about 20 people including a couple of news channels and cable channel 35. The stairs have been around since the 1920’s and were used to connect the streets to the trolley. At one time there were plans to have the stairs lit but those plans never happened, probably due to the depression.  Now, more than 80 years later, funds finally became available and the stairs now have their lamp posts.  ImageIt also took the neighbors to agree to have the stairs lit.  Surprisingly, there are some stairs in some neighborhoods that are not lit because the neighbors don’t want people hanging around the stairs or walking them after dark.  They consider the stairs a nuisance.  However, lighting the stairs makes them safer and actually gets rid of the unsavory characters that party and liter, ruining the appearance of the stairs which were meant for everyone to use and enjoy.

Councilman Tom La Bonge did the honors of turning on the switch.  He gave a short speech and was accompanied by people from the Los Angeles Department of Streets and some of his staff. Before the city decided to light the stairs, the stairs were littered with bottles, cigarette butts, broken glass and graffiti.  ImageOn this day, I could smell the fresh paint that now covers up the graffiti and I did not see any debris.  ImageTom took to the podium around 4:45 and the lights went on after his shirt speech.  It was beautiful to see the sun setting over Los Angeles and the stairs, casting a golden orange hue over everything and making for great photos. My friends and I and a couple of cameramen stayed after everyone left so we could see the stairs lit up at night. 

 Image

The stairs have 153 steps with benches along the sides where the landings are.  Half way up there is a rounded patio which offers a great look-out point to downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and surrounding areas.  Image Quite a sight to behold as the sun was setting and night fell on the City of Angels.  These stairs are one of my favorite because of the stunning view and are the same stairs that can be seen behind me on the top of my blog. I’m thrilled that these stairs are now lit and cleaned up.  I’m looking forward to more historic staircases being lit. 

For anyone interested in visiting the stairs, they are located at 1950 St. Andrew, north of Franklin Ave in Los Feliz. Image They are also included in the “Secret Stairs” book by Charles Fleming under walk #29, Los Feliz –Griffith Park Loop.

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Grand Park

On this 90 degree hot November morning, my friends and I joined about 100 other stair walkers for a tour of Grand Park, led by Secret Stairs author Charles Fleming.

Charles Fleming presenting Mark Rios with a copy of his Secret Stairs book and a T shirt.

The designer of the park, Mark Rios, gave a very interesting talk about the park.  Grand Park was ten years in the making and opened in  July 2012.  This twelve acre park, located in downtown Los Angeles on Grand Avenue, connects the Music Hall to Los Angeles City Hall. Mr. Rios said the city wanted the park to be a representation of all the different cultures that make up Los Angeles.  Meetings were held with different communities and ethnic groups to find out what people wanted and how to incorporate all the diverse cultures into the design of the park. There are several gardens with plants representing the different countries which are native to the diverse Angelenos.  The park is dotted with 350 pieces of iconic bright pink furniture.  Pink, a color chosen in order to make the park stand out and be different from other parks.  It was also decided not to bolt the furniture down so that people can move the furniture to suit their needs.  The consensus was that if people felt that the park belonged to them, then they would not steal the furniture.  I am glad to report that not one piece of furniture has been stolen.  There is a very long table in the park which can be used for large gatherings.  The table looks like it can seat 40 people and the idea is to have a place where people can come together and celebrate their ethnicity and culture.  There is also a stage with outlets to hook up lights, instruments, etc. for concerts.   Free concerts are held in the park.  Some of the concerts that take place at Disney Hall come to Grand Park, where people can attend for free.   Other design elements of the park include a dog park, an area for food trucks, farmers market, and a section with a tiered garden with cement blocks which can be used as seats.  These are located directly across from Los Angeles City Hall so people can watch special events.

The park cost 54 million dollars and money came from a developer who paid a non-refundable 54 million dollars for a 100 year lease on the land.  When the real estate market went down, it became too costly for the developer to build and the money was used for Grand Park.

After Mark Rios finished his talk, Charles led us to some stairs that are not included in his book.  Because it was very hot, Charles shortened the walk.

After the walk, my friends and I went a few blocks over to Olvera Street to eat.

Olvera Street

We also toured Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles which was built in 1818. Olvera Street and El Pueblo Historical Square (which is located right next to Olvera Street) were very crowded with the Dia de Los Muertos(Day of the Dead) celebrations taking place.

Avila Adobe

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration honoring loved ones who have passed.  It is believed that the spirits come to visit their families October 31st and leave on November 2nd.  We watched Dia de Los Muertos dancers with their painted faces and colorful costumes and mariachi bands perform at the El Pueblo Square Pavilion. Colorfully decorated altars honoring the departed were set up in the square.

La Plaza Mexican American Museum was open free of charge with Dia de Los Muertos art and paintings.  The art is very colorful and creative.

All in all it was a full day.  I did not realize the Dia de los Muertos activities were happening and very much enjoyed the festivities.  I never knew about the museum and was glad to view the art for free.

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