The architecture of Silver Lake was developed hand-in-hand with the film industry. Like a mighty wave, the creative individuals captivated by the magic of Hollywood were drawn by the thousands to Southern California to “make their mark” by seeking employment but also needing a place to call home.
The beautiful hillsides of Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silver Lake were often the preferred locations for these early pioneers. As Los Feliz and the Hollywood Hills became too expensive, homebuyers and renters looked eastward towards Silver Lake. At the same time, as new architectural styles were coming into fashion, the architects who were designing them found greater acceptance for their often avante garde designs in the cultural mix of Los Angeles. As a result, the works of Modernist pioneers like Gregory Ain, R.M. Schindler, Raphael Soriano, John Lautner, and Richard Neutra are literally sprinkled throughout our hillsides. Following in their footsteps, a new generation of architects has emerged in the 21st Century, including such luminaries as Gustavo Gubel, Sean Briski, John Southern, Ricardo Accorsi, Ana Henton, and many more.
During the 1930s, Walt Disney built his first large studio here, at the corner of Tracy and Hyperion, on the property now occupied by Gelson's Market. A few blocks away, in Echo Park, was the studio of Tom Mix, on the 12 acre property now occupied by a Public Storage building. It is rumored that Mix buried his fabled steed, "Tony, the Wonder Horse" at the very center of the property. Famed architect, Richard Neutra, designer of many homes in the area, built his office on Silver Lake Blvd, which is still there.
Originally named "Ivanhoe" and later "Edendale," the neighborhood was named after the man-made reservoir which lies at its center. The reservoir is actually divided into an upper and lower section; the upper section retains the name Ivanhoe while the lower section alone is properly known as Silver Lake. The reservoir currently provides water to communities in South Los Angeles but is in the process of being decommissioned. Silver Lake's water resources will be replaced by an underground reservoir in Griffith Park, while the existing lake will be converted to recreational use. The transition is already underway with a walking/running track being completed around the perimeter and a dog park and a nursery school on the east side of the lake.
Silver Lake also has a long and proud community activist history. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (SLNC) was formed in the early 2000s and certified in February, 2003. Its 21-member Governing Board has been elected each September thereafter. The SLNC is widely considered a leader in the burgeoning neighborhood council movement, and often cited as the ideal example of a grassroots/government hybrid. In addition, the Silver Lake Residents Association, Silver Lake Improvement Association, Committee to Save Silver Lake's Reservoirs, the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce and Neighbors for Peace & Justice, are all quite active in the area.