Thursday, January 18, 2007

LA's Most Walkable Streets

In a City of 6,500 miles of non-freeway roadways (there are about 160 miles of Freeways in the City of LA), cars are still king. No matter how much investment is made in public transportation options, only a small percentage of people live without a car (by choice or by force). So, in all those streets and parking lots and vehicular oriented infrastructure, where can you actually walk in LA? Remember that hills, appearance, and general safety add to or detract from walkability. A reader asks, so here's the City Nerd list of the 10 most Walkable Streets in LA:

Sherman Way between Owensmouth and Canoga (Canoga Park)
Antique Row and Main Street Canoga Park make this All-America City's main drag an easy place to walk. The store fronts are inviting and the overhang of the shops over the sidewalk make this area a throw-back to the way "Downtown Owensmouth" must have looked.

Olvera Street (Downtown LA)
This vehicle free street may be a bit crowded at times, but you can walk up and down its center and see something new every time!

Los Feliz Boulevard between Cummings and Vermont (Los Feliz)
With wide parkways and historically designated Deador Cedar trees, this street can take you away from the traffic that lines the boulevard just to the east.

Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Vine (Hollywood)
The Walk of Fame and the BID make this star-studded (literally) sidewalk the one to walk on. Though often crowded, it's one the best to walk because the focus is the sidewalk.

Abbott Kinney Boulevard between Venice to Westminster (Venice)
Though the sidewalks arent wide, boutiques, galleries, and unique shops make this a pedestrian area unlike any other in LA.

Ventura Boulevard between Laurel Canyon and Whitsett (Studio City)
Though Ventura Boulevard has a reputation from end to end, this small section calls to walkers with palm trees, landscaped medians, and stores you'd actually want to walk to... one after the other after the other.

Larchmont Boulevard between Beverly and First Street (Windor Square/Hancock Park)
This mini-main street with angled parking and sidewalk cafes creates the ideal commercial core within a neighborhood. This street is often idolized by areas around the City wanting to have "more of that Larchmont feel."

Riverside Drive between Sancola and Clybourn (Toluca Lake)
The Toluca Lake Village has modern conveniences of Trader Joe's and Coffee Bean with that small town/movie studio feel. The four blocks that make up the Village are easy to walk and the pleasant bustle of the day keeps the people moving.

Glendale Boulevard between the Railroad Tracks and the LA River (Atwater Village)
Recently improved Streetscape plan and a 6-year-old Pedestrian Oriented District designation gives this street the appearance and space to let a person walk with ease.

Baxter Street (Echo Park)
Baxter Street (or neighboring Fargo) will give you the best work out - feel the burn on your calves and thighs!

OK, number 10 wasn't as true as it could be. So, what would your tenth suggestion be? You pick: which street in LA City makes your "walkable" list? (And remember, Colorado Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and 3rd Street are not in the City of LA!)

[Note how many of the "walkable" streets are actually boulevards? Is it just mere coincidence?]

Photo courtesy of Friends of Atwater Village


Don said...

You got a lot of my faves on the list right off the bat. I'd throw in Cesar Chavez in Boyle Heights, Melrose where all the funky shops and boutiques are, 3rd street between the Grove and Bev Center.

I would put Larchmont at the top of the list myself, but that's just me. It reminds me of all the downtowns in the San Gabriel Valley cities.

LA City Nerd said...

You've got some good suggestions, too.

Also, the City Nerd list is in no particular order (which is why there are no numbers).

Anonymous said...

I would second the vote for 3rd Street between La Cienega and Fairfax, and add Fairfax Ave. from Beverly Blvd to Melrose. The small storefronts along these streets make for an interesting walk.

Also, regarding most everyone having a car in LA, I would remind that 1 in 6 households in the city have no access to a vehicle. Check out:
for a comparison to other cities. Granted, LA's not up there with SF or NYC, but still 1 in 6 households in a city as big as LA leaves plenty of people without cars.

Anonymous said...

Broadway in downtown LA, between 1st & Olympic

Wilshire Blvd. between Hoover & Wilton

Anonymous said...

My jaw dropped as you didn't include Westwood Blvd. Is there any place in this county where you can enjoy a more beautiful college campus landscaped within an inch of its life, see historic theaters, museums, Little Persia, and finally, a mall.

Anonymous said...

You guys sure don't get out much. Try lovely Pasadena, whe can name ten right there.

Colorado Boulevard, from Orange Grove B. to Sierra Madre B. We do it every New Year's--what a party.

Orange Grove Boulevard--a real history tour of the City of Pasadena.

The circle of streets around the Rose Bowl--walking, jogging, biking, lunch at the golf Course.

Old Pasadena. Lots of streets. Shows, dinner, bars, shopping, even Dr. Drew.

Huntington Drive, San Marino, jogging, walking on a manicured lawn. Lovely shops.

Virginia Avenue, San Marino, leads to the local County cryptopark, Lacy Park. Even though it's a county park, they do it to keep the riff-raff out. Golly!

That's only four. Enough for today.

Peter McFerrin said...

2:39 anon, we're limiting it to the city limits of Los Angeles.

Question: can Trousdale Parkway at USC count, even though it's a private street? It's pretty much the ideal pedestrian promenade: board-flat; shaded in places but sun-splashed in others; lined with beautiful buildings and a great big park; and coherently delineated, with the USC foundation monument at one end and gates at the other.

Nothing in Westwood is pedestrian-friendly. There are too many cars driving in circles looking for free parking.

Anonymous said...

What a treat to read your comments! I posted the question yesterday and I'm glad to see that many of you have chosen our favorite streets. Why did no one mention the Grove/Farmers' Market complex? Is it because it's an enclosed mall? I would also venture to ask, what are the views you have about strolling through outdoor malls like Universal Citywalk, or The Grove, or Century City, or the Plaza in Little Tokyo? Are those real urban experiences?

Nate said...

I'll second the Broadway and Chavez mentions. And I'll say that Huntington between Eastern and Van Horn, in El Sereno, has got huge potential.

Ariel said...

I'd add Main Street in Venice/Santa Monica to the list! A lot of cool stuff to do there and definitely walkable.
I would add the Venice Boardwalk too, but can it be considered a street? :-)

Nice post, Nerd!

Miles said...

Being an Atwater resident, I'm delighted to see our improved Glendale on the list, but I also would love to nominate downtown's Broadway. Simply put, there's no more vibrant street in the entire city during daylight hours.

Anonymous said...

I agree regarding 3rd street between La Cienega and Fairfax. I have a 1920's spanish home just south of 3rd and I can go the entire weekend without getting in my car.

Anonymous said...

How about Degnan Blvd in Leimert Park (near Crenshaw and Stocker)? Eclectic mix of boutiques oriented to people of color. A nice change of pace from all the other examples that are primarily frequented by whitebread folk like me. :)

Wad said...

Great list.

I'll Yelpize it on MetroRiderLA by posting transit access to these streets. Keep your eyes open.

Anonymous said...

Don't be daft. Nobody walks in L.A.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about San Vincente in Brentwood

Anonymous said...

Figueroa, south of York in Highland Park -- lots of small, street-fronting shops, trees, and a Gold Line stop a block away. It looks a little shabby, but who cares about that, eh?

I'd also add Magnolia in the NoHo Arts District between Tujunga and Vineland.

Anonymous said...

Long Beach has quite a few walkable streets/neighborhoods (Broadway, 2nd st, 4th st, Pine, 1st/Elm...), although I imagine this is someone else's baliwick... :(

Anonymous said...

I second Third St b/w La Cienega and Fairfax, Melrose b/w Fairfax and La Brea, and Fairfax b/w Beverly and Melrose, and add: Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz between Franklin and Sunset and, less so, Hillhurst between Franklin and Los Feliz Blvd.

San Vicente in Brentwood is too car oriented to be a pretty pedestrian street.

Anonymous said...

Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. Shops, restaurants, cafes, clubs, galleries and two major parks, all within about eight blocks.

And Broadway downtown, definitely.

The Navigator said...

Ah, hell, someone got to Leimert Park before me. It's a cool place to putz about on foot, but it is a bit remote.

I'd have to say Downtown is seriously overlooked in this list. You don't know LA unless you've haggled over rings in the Jewelry district, eaten smog on Figueroa (I worked downtown for a while), hoofed it through Chinatown or explored that group of buildings that makes up our dysfunctional city government.

Great list, with more than a few walks I can't wait to try, but let's not forget the heart of LA, eh?

mcgeo said...

What about Sixth Street in San Pedro with art galleries and a few good places to eat?

If you want something a little more vibrant, you can try Avalon in Wilmington.

And yes, these are both in LA for those who forget that LA has a harbor.

Anonymous said...

This list provides the basis for a whole new kind of guidebook to LA, urban (transit-served) LA.

As a fairly frequent visitor, I'd have to say that Downtown is not my favorite place to walk in LA. There's a density of activity, but the pedestrian environment isn't very good. There are lots of wide one way streets with high volumes of rushing traffic. Blank towers with no visual interest. Unrelieved concrete heating up the cityscape in summer. Still plenty of dead spots at night. Hopefully there will be efforts to improve these conditions.

I haven't been to all the proposed streets (yet!), but I like Hollywood Boulevard, Main St. Venice-Santa Monica, and 3rd St. in the Fairfax