The 18th edition of the Great Los Angeles Walk returns on Saturday, November 18, 2023! (Always the Saturday before Thanksgiving.) Details to come.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK 2009: Eight Hours and 17.4 Miles Later, We Did It!

OK, so it was a tad longer than expected. I had promised 13.5 miles, but walker Will Campbell's mileage counter said 17.4 miles. That sounds a lot more impressive, so let's go with it!

For the fourth annual Great Los Angeles Walk, we decided to make it more about just walking down a major Los Angeles boulevard. With so many amazing homes, buildings, mansions and churches in the West Adams district, it made sense to do Adams.

But I also wanted to start the walk at some place grand -- and the Shrine Auditorium fit the bill. (Plus, we were able to walk by the always cool Felix Chevrolet.) But with Adams' interesting sights petering out by Mid-City, the solution was obvious: Let's finish the walk on Washington -- and for the first time, wind up in Los Angeles City Limits (Venice Beach) rather than Santa Monica.

So approximately 250 of us gathered early in the day (some had been up super early, parking in Venice and then taking the bus out east) for the event. We started at the Shrine at about 9:30 in the morning (accounting for stragglers, and folks spinning the Yelp wheel), and after I smartly eliminated a plan to walk down to the Coliseum, we headed north on Figueroa.

It was at the St. Vincent de Paul church that West Adams Heritage Association member Laura Meyers told us about the history of West Adams -- including the endangered Woolen Mills Zanja, the last evidence of the concrete irrigation system that brought water to folks down there more than a century ago.

We then headed West on Adams, through Mount St. Mary's campus (where the amazing Doheny Mansion stands), through St. James Park (Stearns/Dockweiler mansion) and back down to Adams (Second Church of Christ Scientist, now closed). Another detour took us down Hoover, to see beautiful Victorians like the Cockins House, the Salisbury House and the Forthmann House. Back to Adams again by way of 27th and Magnolia, we saw the Roger Williams Baptist Church, the Menlo Ave. National Register Historic District, the First AME-Zion church and the Van Buren Place Historic District.

It was then up Normandie to hit the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery at Washington, and later the Ray Charles RPM International recording studios. Back down Gramercy, we saw the Marvin Gaye house (right smack next to the 10!). We walked through the Kinney Heights and Gramercy Park neighborhoods and got back to Adams, where we saw the Britt Mansion (now home to LA84) and the Fitzgerald mansion.

It was then another detour, on Arlington to see the Six Feet Under house and the South Seas house. Back down 4th, we saw the Gray Residence (used on "Numb3rs") and then on Adams gaped at the Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley estate and the MacGowan mansion. We walked to the McCarty Memorial Christian Church, then turned around and headed up 10th to Washington -- and through Mid-City (spotting Magic Johnson at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center!) to our midway point, the Atomic Cafe.

Whew! The second half of the walk wasn't nearly as eventful, but we took Washington through Culver City, past Marina del Rey and finally to the Venice Beach pier.

And then we celebrated at Venice's Baja Cantina.

It was cool to hear from a number of USC grads who noted that they lived around there for four years -- yet had never ventured out into the neighborhood. (It's definitely a much safer and gentrified area than it once was -- but I know several of you were warned by cops to be careful!)

I've uploaded a ton of photos at our Flickr group site: If you were on the walk, feel free to add your pics to the group as well!

And please send me the web addresses to your blog posts and photo collections, we'll post all the links here, for easy access.

THANKS to the West Adams Heritage Association (especially Laura!) and the Mid-City Neighborhood Council (especially Bruce Durbin) for making this walk extra special.

Now, some shots from my camera:

Will and Joni, ready to go!

And they're off!

Thomas Stinson mansion

The crowd gathers in the St. Vincent de Paul parking lot for a talk from WAHA's Laura Mink

Marching down Adams

Doheny Mansion

Cockins House

Forthmann House

First AME-Zion Church

I'm not sure what's going on here, or whether it makes me want to cash more checks.

The imprisoned trees of Washington Blvd.

Ray Charles' RPM recording studio

Marvin Gaye house

"Six Feet Under" house

House used in "Numb3rs"

South Seas house

McCarty Memorial church

You hear that, 10 Freeway? No stopping at any time!

Crossing over the 10

We're on camera!

The Great LA Walk's big celeb sighting: Magic Johnson, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

Cool "GEM" sign on Washington

Walkers take a break at the Atomic Cafe

The Mid-City Neighborhood Council provides a rest stop at the Atomic Cafe for walkers


The youngest walker -- 4 mos. old! (Blogger Baby 2.0 was in the car, so he doesn't count.)

Apparently you can put a price on romantic notions -- and they're half-off!

Wedding at the Culver City City Hall.

Winner for sketchiest business on this year's route. A few walkers poked their head in and asked what he sells -- and he couldn't tell them!

Now that's a wash that went horribly wrong.

One of several groups to make it to the very end.

We'll see you again next year, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 for the fifth annual Great Los Angeles Walk!



Green LA Girl

Frenchy But Chic

And check out the Great Los Angeles Walk 2009 Flickr photo pool for pics from the event!

One Walker's Great Los Angeles Walk Video

Thanks to Great Los Angeles Walk participant Prints Charmn for uploading this video, which includes a few highlights from this year's event.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Map of This Year's Great Los Angeles Walk Route

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2009 is Tomorrow!

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2009 takes place tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.! For those of you walking, a reminder: You that you should make sure you have a transportation plan in place, so you're not stranded after walking all day!

The best option for those of you without anyone picking you up is to carpool... or to PARK IN THE MORNING in Venice, and take the bus all the way to USC/Shrine Auditorium BEFORE the walk. (That way, your car is waiting for you when it's all done.)

Also, a reminder: This isn't a race! We're going to take our time zig-zagging through West Adams to take in some of the best-loved historic homes in Los Angeles. We'll see the house from "Six Feet Under," the house from "Numb3rs," the home where Marvin Gaye died, Ray Charles' music studio, classic mansions and so much more. How fast or slow you walk is up to you -- but if you leave us all in the dust, you're gonna miss the fun of doing the Great LA Walk -- experiencing a part of the city you wouldn't usually see by foot.

It's always hard to time these things, but we'll probably hit the Atomic Cafe in Mid-City -- the official half-way mark of the walk -- at noon or so. Atomic can accomodate a lot of us, but there are other restaurants around the same area too -- we'll have the details tomorrow. The walk will start back up again around 1:30 from Atomic Cafe.

WEATHER: It's looking good for a walk! Weather Channel says to expect partly cloudy skies and a high of 66 degrees. You know how temps fluctuate here, especially at the coast -- so be prepared to be hot at mid-day and then chilly at the afterparty.

A quick reminder: This is a loosely organized event. We're all coming together to have fun and walk L.A. streets -- but this is not backed by any major organization. We're all responsible for ourselves -- so make sure you have money for meals (and drinks at the afterparty!), transporation set up and... sunscreen.

I'll be updating mile by mile, as well as when we stop and start, take breaks, etc. at

Here are a few more people who plan to Twitter:


We'll see you on Saturday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great Los Angeles Walk Afterparty To Be Held At Venice's Baja Cantina

We have a GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK afterparty venue!

Venice's Baja Cantina restaurant is on board to help us celebrate, and has plenty of room for walkers to hang out after our 13 mile urban hike!

The room will be roped off from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (make sure to get your own tab, so you're not stuck paying for someone else's food and drink!)

Baja Cantina is at 311 Washington Blvd, Venice 90292; (At Sanborn Ave).

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2009: TENTATIVE Route Map

Unlike past Walks, this year we're going to take a bit of a zig zag in the beginning in order to take in and really appreciate the homes and architecture of West Adams. This is a rare opportunity to see the sights up close!

Here's the Map, Part 1:

View Larger Map

Here's the alternate Part 1 map, if we decide to include a detour through USC and by the Coliseum:

View Larger Map

And here's the rest of the route -- Map Part 2:

View Larger Map

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2009 FAQs

The response to this year's Great Los Angeles has so far been amazing! It's on track to be our biggest yet.

A few things to note (and there will be more emails later this week):

If you are planning on Tweeting the walk, please send us your Twitter account name ASAP! We'll be compiling them so folks at home can follow along all day. Send 'em to this email.

Also, we're still looking for a venue for the afterparty in Venice Beach. We'll be ending up at Washington and Speedway (aka the beach), so spots around there would be great. If you have any suggestions, please let me know ASAP.

And now, the Frequently Asked Questions:

1. WHEN/WHERE? Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 -- the Saturday before Thanksgiving, like we do every year. We're meeting on the side of the Shrine Auditorium, on Jefferson (across the street from USC Parking lot D); people will start to gather in the front of the historic auditorium around 8:30 or so. Just look for the crowd of people who look like they're about to embark on an urban hike. This year, we'll have a speaker or two to kick things off; we'll probably leave the Shrine at about 9:30.

2. WHO? We're expecting over 150 hikers this year. We're still taking RSVPs at franklin_avenue(at)yahoo(dot)com... but we'll take anyone who shows up too!

3. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? C'mon, it's completely free! But you're on your own when it comes to lunch, dinner, water, etc. So don't forget to plan accordingly.

4. WHAT'S THE PATH? From the Shrine, we'll hike up Figueroa until we get to Adams. From there we start to head west on Adams -- but we'll also be taking a few detours onto side streets north and south of Adams in order to take a look at classic Los Angeles architecture and homes. Later, we'll make our way up to Washington and walk through the Mid-City district. We keep on walking down Washington, and through Culver City, before eventually finding our way to Venice Beach and the ocean.

5. WHAT IF I CAN'T GET THERE THAT EARLY, OR DON'T WANT TO START THAT FAR EAST? Just wait for us somewhere on the path and join in once we pass by. Several hikers will be Twittering as well -- including us, at @greatlawalk. Check one of those Twitter accounts to figure out where we are.

6. HOW LONG IS THE HIKE? 13.5 miles. That's five miles less than last year's, which is why we'll be taking more time this year to explore side streets. IMPORTANT: This is not a race. Sure, you can sprint all the way to the end, but where's the fun in that? There's no prize for who gets there first. Instead, take a breath, and join the bulk of us as we leisurely stroll toward the ocean and stop frequently to take in the sights.

7. WHEN WILL WE GET TO THE END? With so many hikers, people will eventually start to space out. Impatient, faster walkers might get there soon after lunch. But the bulk of the walkers will get there around 4.

8. WHAT ABOUT LUNCH? We'll be taking a lunch break -- probably around 90 minutes or so -- in the Mid-City area. The Atomic Cafe is preparing a Great Los Angeles Walk special for participants, and the Mid-City Neighborhood Council will be on hand to pass out water and goodies. There are more hikers than the Atomic can handle, but there will be other eateries in the vicinity as well. We'll have a list of many of them to pass out during the walk. We'll then alert everyone via Twitter when we're set to restart the hike again.

9. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WALK IS DONE? We'll take a group photo at the ocean... and then celebrate in Venice at a destination to be announced later this week.

10. HOW DO I GET HOME? We've tried in the past to arrange for a bus to take stranded walkers back downtown -- but didn't get enough takers.

My advice: Either plan with a friend and get to Venice Beach around 8 a.m., parking one car, then carpooling to USC (where you'll park the other car). OR: Park at USC, walk to Venice, then eventually take Metro back to USC. OR: Park at Venice Beach at 7 a.m., allowing yourself enough time to board a Metro bus to USC. Traffic's light that time of morning, so the bus ride is relatively quick. And that way, when you arrive in Venice, your car is waiting for you.

Head to for more info on Metro options, including a link to the Metro's Source blog, in which several bus options are given.

11. WHAT SHOULD I WEAR/BRING? Loose, comfy clothing. I'd wear shorts, a t-shirt and then bring a jacket -- it gets chilly at the beach in the evening. Also, tennis shoes... sunglasses... a hat... sunscreen... extra socks... a blister kit (optional, of course -- I haven't brought one, although Band-Aids are a good idea)... and most importantly, a camera! We'll all be documenting it and posting pics later.

Several of you have ordered Great Los Angeles Walk T-shirts, which is cool ( but not mandatory. For the rest of you, I suggest white T-shirts -- so we can all recognize each other as Great LA Walk walkers!

12. HOW SHOULD I TRAIN FOR THIS? It's not a marathon, so training isn't really necessary. I suppose you should walk around your neighborhood in the days before hand... but I'd avoid any big gym routine the day before, so you're not sore the day you're hiking. But other than that... I didn't train at all for the first three walks, and came out just fine.

13. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Why not? There's no special reason, no charity, no protest, no issue we're promoting -- other than a passion for Los Angeles. In 2006, I organized our walk down Wilshire to mark my 10th anniversary in Los Angeles. But it was so much fun, and it was a chance to meet so many new people, that we did it again in 2007, down Pico, and in 2008, via Sunset and Santa Monica Blvd. It's the Saturday before Thanksgiving as well, so somehow I don't feel as bad gorging on sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie a few days later. And hey, it'll be a cool conversation piece at your holiday party.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mid City Gets Into the Great Los Angeles Walk

GREAT NEWS from the Mid-City Neighborhood Council! They'll be sponsoring a water and supply station for this year's Great LA Walk! Here are the details, from Bruce Durbin of the Mid City Neighborhood Council:

The Mid City Neighborhood Council is going to sponsor a "Water & Supply Station" for the Great LA Walk. We will be setting up a table outside the Atomic Cafe, located at 5001 W. Washington Blvd. (on Washington, a block west of La Brea).

We will have free bottled water, snacks, sunscreen/band-aids, and also a limited number of token items to show our appreciation for this year's walk participants.

The Water & Supply Station will be set up between 10:30 and 2:30 - that should be enough time for participants to get to and out of Mid City. Also, Tony Shibatta, owner/proprietor of the Atomic Cafe, will also be offering a lunch special to GLAW participants.

Our particular stretch of Washington (between Crenshaw & Fairfax) has seen some positive changes in the last 5-10 years. The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center is finally beginning to regularly book mid-size theater, music and dance events, and business facade & sign improvements as well as landscaped medians were completed on the strip as part of a CRA grant.

New Korean & Salvadoran restaurants have been doing brisk business and although the economy has put a strain on financing, we think that the Midtown Crossing Shopping Center located at the junction of Venice/San Vicente/Pico) will eventually finish Phase II.

Atomic Cafe opened about two years ago and it was a total "game-changer" in that it finally brought out all the people in the neighborhood who were previously not interested in eating within their neighborhood. It has become an ad-hoc community gathering spot. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making concerted efforts to attract some of the galleries/studios and other small businessess which may be getting priced out of the Culver City Arts District. We hope you enjoy our neighborhood!

For more on NHPAC (it replaced the old Ebony Showcase Theater): Click here.

Thanks to Bruce and the Mid City Neighborhood Council! More details to come over the weekend!