Silver Lake Neighborhood Council History Collective/Bob Herzog Memorial Archives
Scope and Content
The archive documents the oral histories of long-term residents, business owners, artists and other interesting residents of Silver Lake and nearby communities. It includes over fifty video interviews involving more than seventy people including memories from the great-grandchild of a slave, a Japanese-American doctor who was interned at the Santa Anita racetrack during World War II as well as many people who have lived all their lives in Silver Lake. The History Collective continues its work as of this date in 2012, interviewing 6-8 subjects each year. Those videos will continue to be sent to USC to further expand the archive.
- 2005 - 2011
- Herzog, Robert (Person)
- Masterson, Michael (Person)
- Gold, Bea (Person)
- Silver Lake Neighborhood Council History Collective (Organization)
Language of Materials
English (with some interviews in Spanish)
Conditions Governing Access
Advance notice required for access.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
The Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California is located northeast of downtown, in an area once known variously as Edendale and Ivanhoe, a beautiful landscape of hills and glens southwest of the Los Angeles River. The region became known more popularly as Silver Lake, after a central reservoir was implemented by City Water Commissioner Herman Silver in 1907. The reservoir itself, designed by William Mulholland, enhanced the area and reflected the aspect of the surrounding hills north of the city's original 28-square-mile land grant, creating a desirable setting for residential construction despite the difficulty of the terrain. There are actually two reservoirs contiguous to each other in the system, the more northern one retaining the former developer's name of Ivanhoe. Many streets (Rowena, Angus, Elsinore, Kenilworth, etc.) have Scottish-inspired names from this period.
By 1904, the Pacific Electric Railway was in operation in the area and the right-of-way that is now the terminus of the Glendale Freeway permitted transportation to the hills, where many small cottages were built on step streets in the early years of the century. Glendale Boulevard, finished in 1915 and connecting Los Angeles and Glendale by a bridge across the river, further encouraged building in Silver Lake. Several film studios were sited to take advantage of the year-round sunshine and undeveloped vistas between Echo Park Lake and the Los Angeles River.
One of the first was Selig Studios in 1909, located just south of what is now the 2 freeway terminus; it was followed in 1912 by Mack Sennett's on Sunset and in 1916 by Tom Mix's Mixville, 12 acres of stables, western sets, and sylvan landscape at the corner of Glendale and Silver Lake Boulevard. Mabel Normand also had a sound stage (now named for Mack Sennett) on Hyperion across from Thomas Starr King Middle School. These were used in the production of many films that helped to launch the careers of Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson, Antonio Moreno, the Keystone Kops, and other silent stars. The Walt Disney Studios on Hyperion grew from a tiny garage on Kingswell Street and expanded to occupy the site of the current Gelson's shopping center. The Mixville blocks would remain the major commercial area of the eastern side of Silver Lake, with markets, shops, small factories, and even a trailer court in the sites now occupied by banks, condominiums, shopping centers, and, most recently, the Silver Lake Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.
The majority of the neighborhood's streets were laid out in the 1920s, following the contours of the hills. The subsequent development of individual lots resulted in a great variety of architectural styles and modernist experimentation. Private homes and apartment complexes by Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Raphael Soriano, Allyn Morris, and other modern innovators are well represented. Many architects such as Lautner, Neutra, Morris, and Eugene Kinn Choy designed and built their own homes in the area. There are also numerous representatives of Tudoresque, Chateauesque, Mission Revival, Italianate, Streamline Moderne, and other eclectic styles.
Culturally, Silver Lake has always had a reputation for being home to artists, musicians, writers, and other creative people, unique in its acceptance of a racially and ideologically diverse as well as politically progressive population. Innovators and celebrities such as Anais Nin, Raymond Chandler, and Woody Guthrie, at one time resided here, as well as such current notables as Jorja Fox, Katy Perry, Giovanni Ribisi, Daniel Lanois and author Janet Fitch. Harry Hay's Mattachine Society and the Black Cat Bar, thought to be originating points of the gay rights movement in Los Angeles, were also located in the neighborhood.
In October 2011, the SLNC History Collective transferred all interviews to date to the USC Libraries Special Collections so that they would be made available to interested researchers and scholars in perpetuity. Longtime committee co-chair Bob Herzog, a USC graduate, worked tirelessly to make this a reality. After Bob’s untimely passing the next month, the History Collective asked that the archive be renamed in his honor. Bob Herzog was also given, posthumously, the SLNC History Collective Award that honors people and/or organizations that have made substantial contributions to our community either through history preservation or significant community involvement.
1 Linear Feet (1 box)
The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council History Collective was founded in 2005 by community activist Bea Gold. Its mission is to preserve the oral histories of long-term residents, business owners, artists and other interesting residents of Silver Lake and nearby communities to create an archive of the unique history of the neighborhood for future generations. By the beginning of 2012, the committee had done over fifty video interviews involving more than seventy people. The breadth of the interviews is extraordinary. They include memories from the great-grandchild of a slave, a Japanese-American doctor who was interned at the Santa Anita racetrack during World War II as well as many people who have lived all their lives in Silver Lake.
The DVDs of taped interviews are arranged in chronological order, but listed alphabetically by interviewee in the finding aid.
The collection was acquired from Robert Herzog and Michael Masterson on behalf of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Board in 2011.
The interviews can be viewed online through the USC Digital Library: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15799coll7
- Gold, Bea -- Archives
- Herzog, Robert -- Archives
- Masterson, Michael -- Archives
- Oral histories (document genres)
- Silver Lake (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- History -- Archival resources
- Silver Lake Neighborhood Council History Collective -- Archives
- Silver Lake Neighborhood Council History Collective/Bob Herzog Memorial Archives
- Michael Masterson, Jenifer Palmer-Lacy, and Jacqueline Morin
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States