I’m a Southern California native who never meant to live in Los Angeles. I’ve now lived here twice—interrupted by a three-year stint in New York City.
I’m asked about New York versus Los Angeles often enough that I now have a canned reply: I had a deep love affair with New York City, but Los Angeles and I are friends.
Over the last three years, that friendship has grown and deepened to (what I hope is) a mutual affection, and this is largely due to my neighborhood: Silver Lake. When I moved back to Los Angeles, nearly all of my friends had left the city, and my neighborhood became my most reliable companion.
Silver Lake reminds me a lot of the East Village, where I lived in New York. It has gentrified, but hasn’t lost all of its grit. It is overrun with millennial creatives (like myself), but is also home to families and residents like my mom’s artist friends who have been living here for decades. To outsiders, the neighborhood is viewed as “hip,” even though there are trendier neighborhoods that young people are flocking to (i.e. Highland Park).
Silver Lake also has a rich history: It was the home to Disney’s first studio; one of the first gay rights protests happened in front of the Black Cat; and Laurel and Hardy filmed a now lost-to-the-world film on what we know as the Music Box Steps.
But what appeals to me most about Silver Lake is the community. Nearly all of my needs are met within a 10 minute walk, and during that walk, I’m likely to bump into someone I know. I’m greeted by name at a local pet store, a coffee shop, and by instructors at my yoga studio. I not only know my neighbors, but I’m friends with them. In a city stereotyped for car culture and the shallow film industry, I never expected to find community. But in Silver Lake, but I did.
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