Silver Lake

Silver Lake is a hilly neighborhood east of Hollywood and northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Silver Lake is inhabited by a wide variety of ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but it is best known as an eclectic gathering of hipsters and artists.

The neighborhood was named for Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver, who was instrumental in the creation of the Silver Lake Reservoir, located within the neighborhood.

Silver Lake contains some of the most famous modernist architecture in North America. Architect Richard Neutra, designer of many homes in the area, built his own home on Silver Lake Boulevard. The house still exists, and is visited by architecture fans and students. Neutra's offices were nearby on Glendale Boulevard. The building signage bears the name of his firm. A block east of Silver Lake Blvd. and near Neutra's home is Neutra Place, home to several homes he designed.


Silver Lake is divided between the ZIP codes of 90039 and 90026, with part of Sunset Junction in 90029. Hyperion and Fountain Avenues separate Silver Lake from Los Feliz.

Silver Lake is bordered by Atwater Village to the north, Echo Park to the east, Echo Park's Historic Filipinotown to the south, Virgil Village to the southwest, East Hollywood to the west and Los Feliz to the northwest.  


In the community of Silver Lake lies the namesake reservoir composed of two basins, with the lower named Silver Lake and the upper named Ivanhoe. The lower body of water was named in 1906 for Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver, and in turn lends its name to the neighborhood. The upper body received its name after the 1819 Sir Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe.

The reservoirs are owned and maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and currently they provide water to 600,000 homes in downtown and South Los Angeles. At capacity, they hold 795 million gallons of water. The Silver Lake Reservoir's water resources will be replaced by an underground reservoir in Griffith Park, slated for completion in January 2015.

The reservoir is surrounded by a recently completed jogging path that measures to 2.2 miles around the reservoir. The reservoir is also home to three parks, the Silver Lake Dog Park, the Silver Lake Recreation Center and the Silver Lake Meadow (opened April 2011). The Silver Lake Recreation Center contains numerous facilities including indoor and outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts and offices for local amateur sports teams.

As of 2010, Silver Lake is represented by Los Angeles City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council was formed in the early 2000s and certified a part of the City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council system in February, 2003. Its 21-member Governing Board is elected for two-year terms in March. Recent projects have included 'Street Medallions', created by artist Cheri Gaulke, and 'ArtCans' created by several different artists and groups.
During the 1930s, Walt Disney built his first large studio in Silver Lake at the corner of Griffith Park Blvd and Hyperion Avenue, 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 neighborhood is crisscrossed by numerous municipal staircases that provide pedestrian access up and down the neighborhood's signature hills. Among these are the Descanso stairs, Redcliffe stairs and the Music Box Stairs. The famous flight of stairs in Laurel and Hardy's film The Music Box are located between lower Descanso Drive and Vendome Street, as it winds up and around the hill. Gentrification has intensified in the neighborhood, including the opening of many independent boutiques, coffee shops, fitness studios, and restaurants.


Since the 1990s, Silver Lake has become the center of the alternative and indie rock scene in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is home to two major street festivals each year: the Silver Lake Jubilee, held in May and the Sunset Junction Street Fair, held in August. The Silver Lake Jubilee, a more recent addition, features live music by local musicians, local artists and community businesses. The Sunset Junction Festival features nationally known musicians and has featured such acts as Andrew McMahon, Autolux, Beck, Beth Hart, Bon Harris, Bret McKenzie, Chuck Ragan, Darker My Love, Earlimart, Eels, Elliott Smith, The Elected, Eulogies, Giant Drag, Irving, Jane's Addiction, Joey Waronker, Karen O,Local Natives, Lou Barlow, Mia Doi Todd, Mr. Criminal, My Imaginary Friends, Pavement, Piebald, Porno for Pyros, Possum Dixon, Moving Units, The Shore, Henry Rollins, Rilo Kiley, 8 Bit Weapon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roddy Bottum, Scarling, Sea Wolf, The New Limb, The One AM Radio, Tom Waits and Imaad Wasif.

The band Silversun Pickups took its name from the strip mall at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Silver Lake Boulevard. Since the indie rock music scene is particularly prominent in this neighborhood, comparisons are often drawn between Silver Lake and New York City's Williamsburg district. As a result, it is sometimes referred to as the "Williamsburg of the West". Dangerhouse Records was named after a house located on Carondelet Street. Dangerbird Records was founded in Silver Lake, and is currently located in Silver Lake. Silver Lake has also been the home of independent record label Epitaph Records for many years now. It is the setting of the song "From Silver Lake" by Jackson Browne, as well as the song "Sleepless in Silverlake" by the band Les Savy Fav.

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