Micheltorena Stairs

Micheltorena Stairs Silver Lake

LA's Secret Staircases

There are hundreds of hidden stair streets throughout Los Angeles, with several concentrated around the hilly Eastside neighborhoods. Many have been painted by street artists like the Micheltorena Stairs shown above, this staircase in particular makes more appearances on Instagram than any of its counterparts, mostly because it is easily spotted from Sunset Boulevard and they are painted with hearts and vibrant hues. The installation is entitled Stair Candy and Blooming Hearts, which is part of a larger street art project called Street Hearts. Corrine Carrey, a local artist, started the project in 2013 when she noticed a bougainvillea growing on the side of the 101 Freeway in full view of commuters, she groomed the bush into the shape of a heart as a gift for her fellow Angelenos, and that lead to other Street Hearts like the Micheltorena Stairs and the nearby Hamilton Stairs. 

Why Are There Secret Stairs in Los Angeles?

Before the automobile became a household item, LA was a rail town, Angelenos used a network of street cars to get around the city and beyond to places like Orange County and the newly developed Inland Empire. Angelenos enjoyed not one but two major rail systems, the red cars and the yellow cars who were in fierce competition with reach other. Stair streets were built to make it easier for people, especially women and children, to get to stations where street cars would stop to load and unload passengers. Some of the steepest hills in the nation are found in the Eastside (i.e. Baxter Street), stair streets helped people traverse those hills to go on about their daily lives. Once cars took over, people forgot about the stairs, overgrown vegetation often concealed the right of way to the stairs putting them out of sight and out of mind. 

Pictured: Upper Section of the Micheltorena Stairs—Stair Candy and Blooming Hearts by Artist Corrine Carrey.

Pictured: Upper Section of the Micheltorena Stairs—Stair Candy and Blooming Hearts by Artist Corrine Carrey.

Corrine CArrey's Blooming Hearts

Corinne Carrey adorned three staircases in Silver Lake, the lower section of the Micheltorena Stairs, the upper section (shown above), and the Hamilton Stairs around the corner. The latter is entitled Stair Tempo, the stairs are painted to resemble synthesizer keys with a large red heart in the middle of the stack. Stair Tempo was a tribute to her dad who played the synthesizer in the 80s.

Discover Los Angeles featured the Micheltorena Stairs in their latest campaign.

Film & Television Appearances

The Micheltorena Stairs recently made it into a campaign by Discover Los Angeles (featured above), the campaign is entitled #EveryoneIsWelcome, a rebuttal to the White House's failed travel ban. They were also featured on the Netflix original series, "Love" in an episode where the two leads walk past landmarks in Silver Lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz.

All photographs by Natalie Escobedo.

All photographs by Natalie Escobedo.