An Urban Oasis with a Drizzle of Grit

Silver Lake, a zesty, once-hidden gem is enticing chic millennials from all walks of white.

Art by Felipe Flores

Decidedly hip yet unquestionably gritty, Silver Lake offers plenty of lush, leafy greens — and not just at its farm-to-sidewalk restaurants, where Instagram infuencers and improv comedy stars sit on milk crates and read menus hastily scrawled on discarded brown paper bags. So, too, is there greenery in the hidden parks that wrap around the East Side neighborhood like a woman in reclined butterfly pose.

David Paynesfield, who moved to Silver Lake six days ago, said he was going for a walk with his three golden retrievers when he looked up and noticed a canopy of towering trees. “I couldn’t believe this was all right in my backyard,” says an awe-struck Mr. Paynesfield. Mr. Paynesfield grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an area he describes as “the Bushwick of Ohio,” and attended college in Amherst, Massachusetts, “the Bushwick of Massachusetts.” After college, he landed a six-figure job and was finally able to relocate to the “Bushwick of Brooklyn.” But eight months after purchasing a modern $1.3 million condo there, he says he became burned out on the urban grind of New York.

All art, including header, by Felipé Flores

“The Williamsburg farmer’s market is great, but it’s only open for three months out of the year. Where’s a guy supposed to get an avocado in March?” he says. “Plus, they kept saying the L train was going to close for repairs to accommodate overcrowding. Why stick around to find out when you can just move?”

Mr. Paynesfield sold his Bushwick condo for $2.8 million and now resides in a cozy three-bedroom, five-bath craftsman he purchased behind Intelligentsia Coffee, in a hilled area that satisfies his year-round craving for avocados. He works one day a week maintaining a website that sells custom urban surfboards to tech gurus. He says he loves the neighborhood’s walkability. “As far as walking goes, you really can’t beat how walkable it is here,” he says while taking a walk.

In nearby Los Feliz, which boasts the rustic grittiness of Silver Lake with a sprinkling of Hollywood glamour, Brooklyn transplants Brent and Rose Wilshire were settling into their new home when they discovered a little-known hidden gem called Griffith Park.

“We stumbled onto this little park near our house,” says Mrs. Wilshire, who runs a boutique interior design consultancy specializing in luxury doghouses. “And we were like, ‘I can’t believe we just found this here. Does everyone know about this place?’”

All art, including header, by Felipé Flores

The Wilshires, who both grew up in Bloomfield, Iowa, had called Portland, Oregon, home for almost six months before making the jump to Los Angeles. The polyamorous couple now reside in a recently renovated five-bedroom, eighteen-bath midcentury home they purchased for $4.2 million from the musician Steve Aoki.

An avid ice sculptor, Mr. Wilshire says he finds artistic inspiration in the authentic ebullience of the local community. “Every morning I get a cucumber seltzer at a nearby matcha bar that has a sign in the window that reads, ‘Immigrants are welcome here,’ and I think that’s really beautiful, but also important,” he says. “I love the spirit of the people here. So many of the faces I see remind me of my niñera growing up.”

A few miles down Sunset Boulevard, Drang Blaanshky and his wife, Rugrritro, had just pulled their U-Haul into the driveway of their six-bedroom, four-bath Echo Park home when they got out of the cab and took a deep breath.

“The fresh Los Angeles air hit me and I thought, ‘Wow, how long has this stuff been here?’” says Mr. Blaanshky, who admits he was worried about how all the smog he’d heard about would affect his twin Labradoodles. “Is everyone breathing what I’m breathing?’”

But the oxygen isn’t all Echo Park has to offer the Blaanshkys, who own a business that supplies handmade CBD oils to vegan brunch restaurants and goat yoga studios. Their property offers enough private outdoor space for Mrs. Blaanshky’s stem cell garden as well as for Mr. Blaanshky to practice axe throwing.

There’s also plenty of urban exploring to be found amid the area’s antique IKEA retailers, third-wave condiment shops, and Hit Clips-only music stores. Mr. Blaanshky has made a Sunday morning habit of frequenting the nearby flea markets. “Can you believe I got this for under $250?” he says, pointing to his vintage T-shirt, featuring the cover of Dr. Dre’s 1992 album, The Chronic.

Mr. and Mrs. Blaanshky say they’re not sure how long they’re planning on calling Los Angeles home. “I think we’ll probably stay until the neighborhood gets too gentrified,” Mr. Blaanshky says while taking a hit from a Juul. “Once those kinds of people move in, it’s over.”

This article appears in Vol. 2, Issue 2 of The LAndClick here to pre-order your copy.