A few days ago I had the opportunity to go on a walk with Bob Inman. Bob is the author of A Guide to the Public Stairways of Los Angeles. The book describes over 260 public stairways within the city limits of Los Angeles.
If you’ve read any of the other posts in this blog about public stairways, you know that they are great places to wander and for exploring a neighborhood. I was especially excited to walk with Bob as he has an incredible knack for finding stairways and pedestrian friendly passages. I knew that there was much I could learn from him.
Bob and I met in downtown Santa Monica and immediately went down a stairway and overpass combination that took us off the bluff and down to the beach. We took a right and headed north to the Los Angeles – Santa Monica border. There we headed inland along Ocean Avenue. If you are interested in doing a similar walk, you can look at the section in Bob’s book about Rustic Canyon. Charles Fleming also has a Rustic Canyon walk in his book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.
As we walked up Ocean, we spotted a staircase on the other side of the street. It turned out that that particular staircase is not in the current edition of Bob’s guidebook. We decided to go up the stairs to see if they connected to anything else. When we turned right we ran into a dead end. When we turned left, we found a long walk that ended at another staircase that took us back Ocean.
This is a good example of one of the basic principles of wandering; that is, going out with “beginner’s mind.” When you are open to all of the possibilities, you are setting yourself up to make unexpected discoveries such as finding this walkway. It is the poking and probing around to see what you can find and where you can go that makes urban wandering and exploring so much fun. You can cover a route a dozen times and still find something new.
Bob took good notes on the stairs and will include them in the next edition of his guidebook. He also told me that he plans to expand the next edition of the guidebook to include pedestrian walkways, trails and shortcuts. It should be the ultimate resource for the Los Angeles area foot traveler, and I personally can’t wait for it to come out.
That new stairway we found led us right to the foot of the famous 4th Street steps of Santa Monica. The 4th Street stairway is very steep and with 189 steps it is the favorite place for many people to work out. As we climbed the steps, runners in both directions were squeezing by us. When we reached the top of the stairs at Adelaide Drive, there were people waiting for their turn to run down and then back up. If you’re an avid stair walker, you’ll find this a bit out of character as you usually have a stairway to yourself.
We then headed east on Adelaide Drive to another stairway that is also a favorite work out place.
This time we went down. At the bottom of the stairs, we took a right and headed to the Rustic Canyon area where we would find more stairs and incredible houses. For the rest of the walk we had the stairs to ourselves. Here is what we saw along the way.
We eventually made it back to Santa Monica where we started. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we then headed to Venice to check out some walk streets. I’ll describe them in the next post.