In many ways Silver Lake resembles San Francisco or even Rome: it is a vibrant and eclectic assemblage of small neighborhoods, each with its own hill. The centerpiece is, of course, the lake itself, actually a pair of reservoirs named in the early part of the century for a Mr. Silver. This large body of water is an urban Los Angeles anomaly: where else can Angelinos enjoy close-in vistas of a shimmering lake, downtown Los Angeles and the basin, Glendale–with the whole ringed by the Hollywood Hills and San Gabriel Mountains? Silver Lake’s site, to say the least, is unparalleled. This combination of natural and man-made beauty is what drew pioneer architects of world renown to Silver Lake from the 1920s through today–and what has sustained Sliver Lake as a perennial favorite among homeowners.
Silver Lake lies north of the Hollywood Freeway to the Golden State Freeway from Hyperion Avenue on the west to the Glendale Freeway on the east.
Moreno Highlands is what Silver Lake residents refer to as “prime” Silver Lake. Located on the west ridge above Silver Lake itself, Moreno Highlands is a treasure. Originally planned by oil heiress Daisy Canfield and her matinee idol husband Antonio Moreno as a tile-roofed Mediterranean hilltop village, Moreno Highlands is one of the most homogeneous neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It is characterized by terraced, winding streets with panoramic vistas of the lake on the east and of the basin to the ocean on the west. Many lucky homeowners enjoy both views. There are no sidewalks (residents seem to use the streets as extensions of their driveways and meet their neighbors while walking dogs or kids), and all utilities are underground lest the vistas be obstructed. The local elementary school is a big draw for young families. Pride of ownership is among the highest around; it’s actually hard to find an obvious “fixer” in prime Silver Lake!
A special note about Moreno Highlands is that some of the finest domestic architecture of the mid-Twentieth Century is tucked among the elegant Spanish, Mediterranean and other character revival homes. Open any book on the International Style and you’ll find example after example of homes by R. M. Schindler, Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris and their contemporaries located in Moreno Highlands. (The Richard Neutra “colony” of ten homes, including his own “VDL” house is located just across the lake from Moreno Highlands.)
The areas surrounding Moreno Highlands have similar kinds of homes, but are generally on the more affordable side. There are pockets of architectural note such as the “Neutra colony” mentioned above. East of Silver Lake Boulevard lie many notable Streamline Moderne homes, mostly by William Kesling. Notable modern homes are sprinkled throughout the area, including some of recent construction. Silver Ridge Avenue is almost a colony of mid-century masterpieces in itself. South of Sunset Boulevard the homes tend to be older and the most affordable in Silver Lake.