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The LA (secret) Staircases, Part One

Probably the only thing more elaborate than the Los Angeles freeway system it the system of “secret” staircases that lace the city and were once part of the overall transportation system along with the famed Red Car electric streetcar system.

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I promised myself not to call them the LA Secret Stairs as is seems every other person that has written about them has done.  There is nothing secret about the Los Angeles stairs.  Chances are if you live in one of the hilly parts of town, particularly Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz or anywhere along the Santa Monica mountain range, you have one or more in your neighborhood.

LA Staircases
The Micheltorena Stairs just off of Sunset in Los Angeles

As homes were built in the parts of town with with steep hills, the staircases were installed so residents could get down to the Red Car stops in the “flatlands.”  The Red Cars were the nickname given to the Pacific Electric railway cars.  It was the largest electric railway system in the world in the 1920s.

What makes these staircases special are the artists who have taken it upon themselves to turn them into canvases, and a few movie producers that decided they were perfect locations for their films.

Today, Zeus Lee, who we hope you will be seeing a lot more of on our LA videos takes you to see three sets of painted stairways in Silverlake.  Once you find a place you can easily walk from one set of stairs to the next.

If you are visiting Los Angeles and are looking for some not so touristy places to visit that are decided Los Angeles, then check out these “secret” stairs.

We begin with the Micheltorena Stairs.  There are probably more photos of this staircase with the big heart painted on them on Instagram than any other staircase in the world. Probably because it is one of the most picturesque and it is visible as you drive by on Sunset Blvd.  The staircase is 177 steps long.  Once you reach the “top” you will find there are still two more sections to go, crossing a street each time you move on to the next set of stairs.  This is typical of all the LA staircases.

The Micheltorena Stairs were painted and signed by artist, Corinne Carrey (@corrinecarrey) with the hashtag #StairCandy.

The Murray Stairs, aka The Piano Stairs in Los Angeles

Micheltorena Stairway
3400 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Just across the street beside the Ali Mama Cafe are the Murray Stairs, also painted by Corinne Carrey.  There are perhaps better known as The Piano Stairs as Carrey painted them to resemble the keyboard of a piano. Corrine signed them with the hashtag #StairTempo.  Be sure to watch our YouTube video as Zeus learns the piano on the 90 step long keyboard.  Be warned, he is just learning, don’t expect to hear Chopin as he plays the steps!  Oh, and while you are there take a second to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and share it with your friends so they can explore the stairways too!

Murray Stairway
3229 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Music Box Steps are the most famous, least decorated and the only set you could consider “hidden” of the three.  Hidden stairs because you have to walk a half a block off of Sunset before you see the street sign saying The Music Box Steps at the base of the stairway.

How about that.  The only “secret” staircase on our little tour is also the only staircase in Los Angeles that has a street sign dedicated to it.

La stairways
The Music Box Steps in Los Angeles are a favorite attraction for tourists and film history buffs.

The Music Box Steps aka the Music Box Loop make up a total of 705 steps. Its name and fame stem from a 1932 Laurel and Hardy film entitled The Music Box where the guys tried to push a piano up these exact stairs between Vendome St. and Descanso Drive. It is one of the silent film stars’ most iconic works as the slapstick comedy team attempts to drag a massive piano up the long flight of stairs!  In 1997, this film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Though no artists have taken it upon themselves to “artify”, as Zeus puts it, the staircase, it draws thousands of tourists and hollywood history buffs to view one of the most iconic movie sets of the classic Hollywood era.  Yes, The Music Box Steps are a movie set.

To get to the Music Box Steps, simply go south east on Sunset a couple of blocks to Vendome Street.  Go south on Vendome and about a half a block down you will see a sign saying Music Box Steps.  The intersection is Vendome and Del Monte Streets.  You can also just type Music Box Steps into Google Maps and they will pop right up.

portrait photographer

Narrated by: Zeus Lee
Produced by: Mark Stout
Background Music:
Babylon – Disco Ultralounge by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

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