The New York City Walking Tour of Los Angeles – The New Yorker
Welcome to the New York City Walking Tour of Los Angeles! We are so excited to bring our popular Manhattan pedestrian audio tour to the City of Dreams. While some say that L.A. was built for the automobile, and that people on foot are third-class citizens who deserve to have garbage thrown at them, and that we will regret trying to expand our business into this incoherent, patchwork sprawl, we say, “Hooray for cardio!” Now get ready for an unforgettable fourteen hours.
Once you’ve laced up your walking shoes and signed your liability waiver, we can begin. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so please try to maintain a steady pace of between 3.8 and 4.2 miles per hour. You should be walking so fast you almost have to run.
Our first stop is the iconic Chinese Theatre. Built in 1927, it has hosted countless premières of classic films that we don’t have time to list. In the courtyard, you’ll notice the famous handprints and footprints in cement. If you hustle, you’ll have time to put your hands in one set of prints. There’s usually no line at Adolph Zukor’s square.
Walk briskly west now, steering clear of the costumed characters who want you to pay them to pose for pictures, and who emanate a palpable sadness. Take a moment to notice (without slowing down!) the Walk of Fame, studded with gold stars commemorating Hollywood’s greatest legends, and also so many not-legends.
Let’s pick up the pace as we travel toward, but not all the way to, the world-renowned Sunset Strip. That Trader Joe’s used to be Schwab’s Pharmacy! Humphrey Bogart’s first house was pretty much on the exact site of that Chipotle! Sure, Los Angeles retains almost none of its history, but who has more new banks?
Take a right and lightly jog up and over Laurel Canyon to the San Fernando Valley. Like so many roads in L.A., there’s no sidewalk here, but at least you’re able to move a lot faster than the snarl of cars around you that are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a weekday afternoon for some reason. If it’s because of a mudslide, fast forward to the part about Silver Lake.
If not, welcome to the San Fernando Valley! They make porn here. And also sitcoms. Not much to see. Some people feel that this portion of the tour would have been better spent going to the beach, and those people are free to start their own walking tour. Now catch your breath and change out of your bloody socks, because the real workout is yet to come.
Head three miles east, over the Cahuenga Pass and back into Hollywood, unless it’s summer and there’s a concert at the Bowl, in which case you should probably spend the night on this side of the hill.
Now we’re going to push through the pain east on Sunset for several long and scary miles—past pawnshops, vape stores, and way more Scientology buildings than you expected. You’ll find yourself wondering if there wasn’t a better order in which to visit these different parts of town, but rest assured: every option is terrible.
Welcome to Silver Lake! If you’ve taken our New York City Walking Tour of Brooklyn, you may see some familiar faces, because more than ninety per cent of these local residents used to live in Brooklyn, in studios that are one-eighth the size of the three-bedroom Craftsman homes they are now renting for half the price. Five of the previous six winners of the Best Eighties Horror Movie Podcast Award at the Streamies work at the coffee shop on your right!
Take less than a minute to check out the great view of downtown L.A. to your left, because this is as close as you’re getting to it. If it’s daytime, the only pedestrians downtown are serving jury duty and you will be impanelled if spotted on foot, and if it’s dark you’re basically asking to recreate the zombie sequence from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video without the dancing, so we’re skipping it.
You’ve reached the end of the tour. Congratulations! Not many do. If your Fitbit has run out of power or melted, you just did approximately thirty-four thousand steps. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the City of Angels the way that some people argue it was never meant to be seen. But maybe if they pulled over and walked the roads you walked today, they’d understand that there is beauty in this city’s formlessness, and that what unifies all its residents, regardless of where they live, or how successful or beautiful they are, is one simple idea: that everywhere you need to go is hard to get to and it’s going to take longer to get there than it should.
Please exit through the medical tent on your left and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.