Hidden Hollywood: Hightower and Whitley Heights

Nobody walks in LA, according to those famously catchy lyrics, but the neighborhoods of Hollywood Heights make it worthwhile to strap on those walking shoes and defy the stereotype.

Hollywood is probably not the first neighborhood that springs to mind when you think of places for a relaxing walk. But in the hills, just a few blocks away from the tourist madness at Hollywood/Highland, lie the quiet retreats of Hightower and Whitley Heights.

These residential neighborhoods boast winding streets, concealed staircases, historic homes, and charming bungalows. Bonus: All the uphill makes for a great butt workout.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum (2100 North Highland Ave). is the best place to start. The parking lot here is free, and the tiny museum is worth a stop in and of itself. Housed in the restored Lasky-DeMille Barn (c.1895), the museum features historic photos, props, and other mementos from Hollywood’s movie heyday.

At the corner of Camrose and Highland, there's a walled park that's open to the public with a shady picnic area, perfect for a lunch stop


Once you cross Highland Ave. and head up Camrose Drive, you’re officially in the Hightower neighborhood. Beyond its secluded feel and its charming homes, this neighborhood has a special secret.

You may notice the collection of stand-alone garages bunched together, without houses attached, at the bottom of hills. That’s because many people in this neighborhood can only reach their homes via footpath (pedestrian-only) or elevator. That’s right, elevator!

Only residents have keys to use the private High Tower elevator, but it’s definitely worth a look. To reach it, head up Camrose and turn right on High Tower Road, where you will see the street’s namesake looming above.

To get a closer view of the tower, turn left from High Tower Road onto the Los Altos Place pedestrian footpath – a pleasantly shaded walkway. Then turn right on Broadview Terrace, another pedestrian path, and head up the stairs. At the top, you will be treated to an up-close look at the top of the elevator, as well as fabulous views of the downtown skyline.

Whitley Heights

With more of a prosperous, old Hollywood feel than Hightower, Whitley Heights boasts stunning Mediterranean-style homes, many dating from the 1920s, when stars like Judy Garland and Charlie Chaplin called this home. To me, Whitley Heights feels more neighborly and less secluded than Hightower.

To reach this neighborhood, it’s best to go back to the starting point at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. From here, head up Milner Road and wind your way up the hill. Alternatively, ascend the hill via the Whitley Terrace Steps next to 6776 Milner.

Please note that my inspiration for this walk came thanks to Walking LA
– a fabulous book of LaLaLand walking tours by Erin Mahoney – that I recommend to anyone looking for off(and some on)-the-beaten-path adventures. (Note: She gives much more detailed walking directions than I do with maps and the works)

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Jeanne St.Shaw said...

My home in the 60's.House on the left of elevator.,downstairs apt.Mama Cass lived in the apt, on the right.Milano Kay was a close friend.He is the son of The Kays.I saw the Beatles and many other concerts from behind Milano's house,which looks down on The Hollywood Bowl.There were no elevator keys at that time. Jenna St.Shaw

Karen said...

You will enjoy Charles Flemings Secret Stairs- A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. He has stairwalks that cover Hightower and Whitley Heights, stairwalks # 36 and 37. You can read my stairwalking posts at www.stairwalkinginLA.wordpress.com