The Stairways to the Stars

As Los Angeles grew in the 1920s, in large part because of the film industry, city planners built hundreds of outdoor staircases into the hills to connect new homes with public transportation at the bottom. They aren't used much anymore, as residents are more dependent on cars.

The film studios were the first to develop the area, building compact bungalows to house their actors and technicians. Both Chaplin and Disney lived here.

Movie carpenters would build sets during the week and homes at the weekend. Charles said this accounted for the local architectural hotchpotch that is often ridiculed. A Moorish castle next to a Spanish villa, next to a Tudor mansion - the carpenters were inspired by whatever they had been building on the studio backlots that week.

Our second staircase was thankfully unobstructed. Here, in 1932, Laurel and Hardy tried and failed to move a piano to the top in The Music Box. The film won an Academy Award. I'd seen it over and again as a child and remembered it fondly.

There were now buildings either side but it was still quite recognisable. For such a historic landmark it was still remarkably unkempt, its history simply marked by a defaced granite plaque inset into one of the lower steps.

Take a tour of those staircases both then and now with Charles Fleming of the L.A. Times and Zeb Soanes of the BBC. Link -via Dark Roasted Blend

(Image source: The Music Box)


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