It’s hard to resist the allure of Silver Lake. Set in a gorgeous landscape, the shimmering expanse of its namesake reservoir surrounded by lush flora, this hilly neighborhood is dotted with architectural homes built by the likes of R.M. Schindler and Richard Neutra. The thoroughfares of Silver Lake Boulevard and Virgil Ave are abrim with creative energy, offering all the stylish shopping and dining one can possibly wish for (who could say no to a breakfast meeting at Sqirl? And what’s a better spot than the Dream Collective to pick up a perfect gift made by a local artisan?).
Today, owning a home or commercial real estate in Silver Lake means being a part of Los Angeles’ best loved neighborhood; but what was it like before our time? Here are some fascinating Silver Lake facts that illuminate the layered history of this amazing enclave:
Did you know? Sunset Junction – where Sunset Boulevard meets Santa Monica Boulevard, and where you’ve likely gotten your morning coffee at Intelligentsia, is a hugely important location in the history of LGBTQ rights. It is there where the first documented demonstration for gay rights took place in the US. On your next night out, be sure to stop by The Black Cat – originally established in 1966, this atmospheric bar was the very site of one of the first demonstrations protesting police harassment of LGBT people.
Fun fact: Silver Lake was once the geographic heart of moviemaking. In 1910’s, it was a part of a region called Edendale, which boasted the biggest film studios on the West Coast. In the 1920’s, a man Tom Mix, who was a popular star of early western films, built an elaborate frontier town set – replete with with a dusty main street, a saloon, sheriff’s Jail, bank, doctor’s office, and the simple frame houses typical of the early Western era – at what is now a corner of Silver Lake Blvd. and Glendale Blvd. The compound became known as Mixville and was in operation though 1930’s, setting the stage for many a western classic.
In the same decade, Walt Disney had set up his first animation studio – right at the corner of Hyperion and Griffith Park, where Gelson’s Market stands today. Feel like to re-living the old Hollywood days? Step onto a steep staircase located at the intersection of Vendome, Del Monte, and Reno (also known as Del Monte Triangle) and experience one of the most iconic set pieces of the classic Hollywood era, as seen in the iconic film made by the comedic duo of Laurel and Hardy, the 1932 talkie “The Music Box”.
THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Silver Lake became home to many Russian emigres that fled the Soviet Revolution of 1917. Amongst them was Maria Rasputin, the daughter of Grigori Rasputin, a notorious Russian mystic and the confidant of the last Russian Tzar. After the revolution, Maria had a turbulent life that saw her briefly sheltered by the imperial family before fleeing to Europe, where she began working as a dancer and a circus performer. She came to United States as a lion tamer for the Ringling Bros., and was dramatically billed as “The Daughter of the Mad Monk” After being badly mauled by a bear, Maria left the circus, married and divorced an Angeleno, and eventually settled in quiet duplex located at 3458 Larissa Drive in Silver Lake, where she remained for the rest of her life. A marker of that time? The Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Silver Lake; established in 1923 by the members of the Russian Emigré community, its traditional Russian architecture of white walls and onion domes remains a rare vestige of that tumultuous era of political upheavals.
Enamoured by Silver Lake’s charms? Stay tuned for a beautiful listing we have coming up in just a few days, and do get in touch should you have any real estate needs or questions – we’d love to help!