There is certainly nothing cookie-cutter about Silver Lake, CA — it’s as diverse as the people living in it. Silver Lake is home to many artists, writers and musicians, like Beck and the late Elliot Smith, just to name a few.
Thanks to its neighborhood feel, Silver Lake is the perfect area for young people looking for an eclectic spot, diverse families seeking out good schools and a community vibe, and gay couples who were some of the first to gentrify the area.
Silver Lake is continually growing — with an ever-increasing mix of stylish boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and everything in-between. But it’s managed to hold on to its unique charm.
Silver Lake, CA is located five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, CA and just east of Griffith Park. It is divided between the Zip Codes of 90039 and 90026, with part of Sunset Junction in 90029 and with parts of Hyperion and Fountain Avenues in 90027.
As of the census of 2000, there are 44,351 people in the neighborhood. The racial makeup of the neighborhood is 57.35% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race, 40.53% White (21.24% non-Hispanic white), 2.74% African American, 1.10% Native American, 16.58% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 33.25% from other races, and 5.65% from two or more races.
The area gets its name from the Department of Water and Power’s Silver Lake Reservoir, which was named after Herman Silver, a member of Los Angeles’ first Board of Water commissioners. The Department of Water and Power established these reservoirs in the early 1900s as part of the citywide system of water storage and delivery that today has only 10 open reservoirs remaining.
Before the turn of the century, the area was originally called “Ivanhoe”. The story goes that a Scotsman named Hugo Reid, upon seeing the rolling green hills of the area, was reminded of the hills of his homeland in Scotland. Reid named the area after a famous Scottish novel Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. Many of the streets in Silver Lake have Scottish names, or names that are related to characters from the novel, such as Herkimer, Rowena, Kenilworth, Ben Lomond, Hawick, St. George (as in St. George and the Dragon).
During the 1930s, Walt Disney built his first large studio in Silver Lake, CA at the corner of Griffith Park Blvd and Hyperion, now the site of Gelson’s Market. A few blocks away on Glendale Blvd was the studio of Tom Mix. The location is now occupied by the Mixville shopping center. It is rumored that Mix buried his steed “Tony, the Wonder Horse” on the property. The famous flight of stairs in Laurel and Hardy’s film The Music Box is located between Descanso Drive and Vendome Street.
Silver Lake Architecture
Many famous Modernist pioneers in architecture were commissioned to build homes in Silver Lake: Raphael Soriano, R.M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gregory Ain. While many of these architects created Avant-garde buildings in the 1930s, Spanish Mediterranean, with stucco, arches, and roof tiles, is the defining style of Silver Lake.
In the twenty-first century, a new generation of architects emerged in the area, and architects like Barbara Bestor, Gustavo Gubel, Sean Briski, John Southern, Ricardo Accorsi and Ana Henton began designing standout homes.
Entertainment, Restaurants and Nightlife
One of the highlights of living in Silver Lake, CA is the Sunset Junction Street Fair during the late summer. It’s a perfect example of what living in Silver Lake is all about — great music and art, incredible food, and out of this world people watching.
Silver Lake Reservoir
A major bonus to living in Silver Lake is the Reservoir. Yes, since 9-11 a chain link fence has surrounded it. But trust us, you will grow to love it. It’s the perfect place to take a jog or walk the dog. There is even a dog park, so after your stroll, you and the pooch can toss around the ball.
LAMILL Coffee Boutique
Some days you want to grab coffee to go, but other times you want a total coffee experience. If you have a minute to chill over your cup, you must head over to Silver Lake’s LAMILL Coffee Boutique. They have impeccable service and amazing coffee–in an Alice in Wonderland goes to Bergdorfs setting. LAMILL has several brew methods to choose from: the Clover machine, the Chemex pot, the Siphon Brew, the French Press and more. If you want to grab a bite to eat with your brew, LAMILL also provides a delicious menu.
Silverlake Wine2395 Glendale Blvd. LA, CA 90039 (323) 662-9024
Silverlake Wine focuses on boutique wines from around the globe in all price ranges. They also have an eclectic selection of spirits, micro brew beer and sake. Silverlake Wine has super low-priced wine tastings every Sunday, Monday and Thursday, as well as private parties, a wine of the month club and more.
Red Lion Tavern2366 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039 (323) 662-5337
If you’re looking for a laid back spot to grab a beer in Silver Lake, Red Lion Tavern is the place. Not only does it have a reasonably priced menu full of German delicacies like sausage, bratwurst and spaetzle, but they also have an outdoor beer garden and an incredible beer selection.
The primary purpose of the Silver Lake Residents Association is to promote and maintain the most desirable environment in the Silver Lake area and to contribute to the welfare of the community at large—this includes activities with the LAPD Northeast Community Police Advisory Board, Neighborhood Council involvement, and the Silver Lake Improvement Association (SLIA) to work on the Silver Lake Reservoir Master Plan. They also sponsor an annual block party!
CSSLR was established in 1988 in response to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s proposed water quality projects at the Silver Lake Reservoir Complex. It is a single-issue organization that focuses on Silver Lake Reservoir issues.