A Place in the Sun

LA’s burgeoning Silver Lake neighborhood scored big last week, gaining not only LA’s second bike corral but reclaiming a snippet of public street for the public’s use with the city’s first street-turned-pedestrian-plaza.

“Sunset Triangle” is based on the scrap of land left where Griffith Park Boulevard angles into Sunset a block or so east of Sunset Junction. Now the short bit of Griffith Park between Edgecliffe and Sunset has been closed to cars and opened to unarmored human beings (though it’s briefly interrupted by an access strip to a bakery’s parking lot).

Although the project’s announcement touts its resemblance to the also-triangular Times Square treatment in Manhattan, they are nothing at all alike: Sunset Triangle is a neighborhood space, long used as a mini-park, where a farmers market sets up twice a week–and it is not in the heart of town, nor is it a tourist district. While it would be wonderful to see a pedestrian plaza at Hollywood and Highland, in the Miracle Mile, somewhere on Ventura, or Downtown (where My Figueroa might actually make it happen), in a way this is better: Sunset Triangle is primarily for Angelenos.

Silver Lake is already a bike-enriched neighborhood, and replete with sidewalk strollers, dozens of bistros, cafés, coffeehouses, restaurants, pubs, bars, and breweries, and a dizzying selection of boutiques ranging from the ordinary to the esoteric. It’s the perfect location for a true public square where people can mingle and linger freely, sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying a sandwich, or just chatting up their neighbors, without having had to wrestle a two-ton prosthetic down the crowded lanes and into a rare parking space. You just walk in or ride your bike–as so many do already–sit down, and enjoy life.

What a concept, eh?

It’s also at the intersection of two bike lanes: the one on Griffith Park feeds in from North Silver Lake, starting just short of Hyperion and Rowena, and the Sunset Boulevard lanes connect the plaza to Downtown, Echo Park, East Hollywood, and the main part of Silver Lake.

It took the residents of Silver Lake six years to get this plaza built, so if we want more, we’d better start now!

I’m sure there are neighborhoods all over LA that would love a square of their own–or even a triangle.

A version of this article by Richard Risemberg was originally published in Flying Pigeon LA.