America’s most charming walkable neighborhood is in…

Los Angeles!

Yes, you read that correctly. The city known for miles of freeways and lengthy traffic jams is also home to what this retired urban planner feels is the most charming walkable neighborhood in the United States. In fact, Los Angeles has many charming and walkable neighborhoods, but Hollywood Heights particularly stands out due to its fascinating history, charming scenic vistas, beautiful landscaping, and outstanding architecture.

100-foot tall High Tower Elevator (ca 1920)

As the Hollywood Heights neighborhood was being developed in the early 1900s, the steep terrain was unsuitable for motor vehicles. As a result, much of the street network and parking were kept to the lower elevations, while a series of interconnecting walkways and stairways were built to access and link the residential community. The High Tower Elevator was also built to link parts of the neighborhood. Please notethe elevator is private and only accessible to residents of the properties surrounding it.


Some areas of Hollywood Heights, particularly the High Tower area, you might think you were in Italy given the rolling hills; stunning landscaping; stairways linking homes, streets, walkways, and other stairways; as well as the High Tower Elevator. Granted it is not the most accessible place for people with disabilities or some seniors, but Hollywood Heights certainly exudes an era of classic elegance and urban design that is seldom seen anymore in the United States.

View to the south from the East La Presa Walkway near the High Tower Elevator

We spent much of the afternoon exploring Hollywood Heights and nearby Whitney Heights on foot. Hopefully, at some point, a context-sensitive outdoor urban escalator or public elevator could be suitably designed to allow people with disabilities and older residents improved access to/within this serene community. Above and below are a series of snapshots from the area showing the charm and walkability found in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood of LA. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we loved visiting this delightful urban oasis of walkable and scenic beauty. Peace!

Approaching the High Tower Elevator along the East La Presa Walkway/Stairway

Looking southeast towards High Tower Drive from the East La Presa Walkway

Looking east down a small portion of the impressive Paramount Stairway

Landscaping along an upper portion of the Paramount Stairway

Lovely tile resting bench along the walkway network.

Downtown LA from the Paramount Stairway

Map of Hollywood Heights – Source:

Leave the car below and trek the stairs. Or, for some – take the High Tower Elevator

Rockledge Walkway and Stairway

Another view of LA from the Paramount Stairway

One of many decorative front gates found along the paths and stairs.

It is impossible to resist the charm of the High Tower.


If you find urban stairways such as these in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood of LA, as compelling as I do, here are three books on the topic that are available through*. I know I am looking forward to reading the two about Los Angeles that I bought following our adventure.

Link – Secret Stairs of LA ……..Link – Stairway Walks of SF ……..Link – Pittsburgh Steps

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using the above links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


This entry was posted in Active transportation, Alternative transportation, architecture, art, books, Cars, cities, civics, culture, density, engineering, entertainment, environment, fitness, fun, geography, health, hiking, historic preservation, history, Housing, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, Maps, mountains, nature, new urbanism, parking, pictures, place names, placemaking, planning, product design, recreation, skylines, spatial design, technology, third places, topography, tourism, traffic, trails, transportation, Travel, urban design, urban planning, walking, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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