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About the Silver Lake Community, Los Angeles, California

History  / Early Film Connection / Architecture / Red Car Lines
/ Recreation Center / Residents Associations / Neighborhood Council

bullet Location

The Silver Lake area is located just five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and just east of Griffith Park. The district 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 city-wide system of water storage & delivery that today has only 10 open reservoirs remaining.

One reservoir that was taken out of is the Rowena Reservoir at the intersection of Hyperion and Rowena.  The reservoir was replaced by an underground storage tank, but the Department of Water and Power agreed to restore the water views residents had.   Photo Tour

See Old Real Estate Flyers

See Old Newspaper Articles

Silver Lake, California, 1999
Silver Lake Reservoir, December, 1999


bullet Silver Lake's Early History

1941 View of Silver Lake
1941, Silver Lake, California
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The area was originally called "Ivanhoe" before the turn of the century. A Scotsman named Hugo Reid, upon seeing the rolling green hills of the area, (obviously this was in the winter!) thought they reminded him of the hills of his homeland in Scotland. He 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).

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bullet Early Film Connection

The Silver Lake and adjacent Edendale and Echo Park areas were home to many early motion picture studios.  The Mack Sennett Studios, Tom Mix, Disney, Monogram (which is now KCET) Talmadge (ABC), were located here and drew creative people to the area. 

According to the Echo Park Historical Society, the Mack Sennett studios were on both sides of Glendale Blvd and one of the old studio buildings is now Public Storage building.  The AM/PM gas station across the street is where the "cyclorama" was located.  This was a revolving set which provided a moving landscape for the performers, who could run in place.

Many locations in Silver Lake and Edendale/Echo Park appeared in these early motion pictures.  For example the famous Laurel and Hardy short film "The Music Box" was filmed here, and many of the Keystone Cops chase scenes were shot along Glendale Blvd.  Many of these early films are still showing at nearby theaters.

Not only was area home to many of the early studios, numerous filmmakers actors, directors, etc. also lived in Silver Lake.  These included Gloria Swanson, Laurel and Hardy, Antonio Moreno,  and many others.

The City Planners saw the potential of a premium, residential development and made the investment in underground utilities and cement streets. In the 1920’s & 1930’s developers  were encouraged to build by the city and were attracted by the hills and the blue jewel focal point that is Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs.  Probably the most well-known developer was the silent film star Antonio Moreno. He modeled his development (the Moreno Highlands) after Mediterranean villages he visited while on his honeymoon and his landmark home, the Canfield-Moreno Estate set the architectural theme for many of the homes in the hills on the west side of the reservoir.

See More Studio Photos
See more Studio photos



The Music Box Steps then
From the Music Box

and today
Music_Box_Steps_Today.jpg (24242 bytes)

923 Vendome
across from 
Del Monte Park

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bullet Architecture

  More on architecture

Many now-famous architects, Neutra, Schindler, Lautner, Wright, Ain, to name a few, were commissioned to build residences. While many of these architects created avant garde buildings in the 1930s, Spanish Mediterranean, with stucco, arches, and roof tiles, is the defining style in Silver Lake. Local realtors point out that there are more architecturally significant homes per square mile in Silver Lake than in other area of Los Angeles.

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bullet Red Car Lines

Red car Line
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Car Line Photos

In addition, the Red Car lines were located along Riverside Drive (Route 66) and along Sunset Blvd providing good public transportation that was essential to attracting residents. Some of the Red Car bridge foundation still exists at Riverside Drive & Fletcher. This attractive, Mediterranean style community, overlooking the water continues to attract those who want an oasis in the City.


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bullet Schools

While the primary purpose is both a water storage and delivery facility, the reservoir property provides both a focal point and affords quality of life benefits to the community. In addition to the obvious open space, water and greenscape view shed, the Neighborhood Nursery School (at the corner of Armstrong & Tesla) serves to help bind the community together. It has been in existence for over 50 years, and children of children of children of early attendees are happily participating at this parent-owned cooperative school. See other schools in the Silver Lake area.

Neighborhood Nursery School

Neighborhood Nursery School


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bullet Recreation Center

Silver Lake Recreation enter
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a larger view

The Silver Lake Recreation Center just below the Silver Lake dam, represents 10 years of joint effort between the community, the Council office and the Department of Recreation and Parks. This new building provides a beautiful and suitable facility for this vibrant neighborhood. In the same manner that the Silver Lake community worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks to build a new recreation center, the community is working with the Department of Water and Power on a Master Plan for the Silver Lake Reservoir complex.
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bullet Residents' Associations

As evidenced by the Recreation Center and Master Plan activities, Silver Lake citizens have a reputation for being active on community issues.

bulletThe Silver Lake Residents Association (SLRA) and the Silver Lake Improvement Association (SLIA) are highly involved with neighborhood beautification, traffic, crime prevention, and land use issues.
bulletThe Committee to Save Silver Lake’s Reservoirs (CSSLR) is a single-issue organization that focuses on Silver Lake Reservoir issues.
bulletGSL2000 was formed in summer 1997 by representatives of SLRA, SLIA and the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce and   has been working diligently to beautify through landscaping and murals the area surrounding the Silver Lake Blvd. underpass to the 101 Freeway.

The residents take a lot of pride in their community and care what happens to it.

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