The Silver Lake area is located just five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and just east of Griffith Park. The district gets its name from the Department of Water and Power's Silver Lake Reservoir, which was named after Herman Silver, a member of Los Angeles first Board of Water commissioners. The Department of Water and Power established these reservoirs in the early 1900s as part of the city-wide system of water storage & delivery that today has only 10 open reservoirs remaining.
One reservoir that was taken out is the Rowena Reservoir at the intersection of Hyperion and Rowena. The reservoir was replaced by an underground storage tank, but the Department of Water and Power agreed to restore the water views residents had.
PART 2: Silverlake attracts counterculture people. The region is composed of a very diverse group of people. Cultural diversity is a characteristic of which Silverlake residents find pride. The influence of people of color is strongly felt. Many people of color organizations call Silverlake home. Cara a Cara is just one example. James Carroll Pickett (1996) explains what changes both Sunset Junction and Silverlake were experiencing:
By the 1970's, the Junction no longer functioned as an intersection for trolley cars, but grappled with its new role as crossroads for L.A.ss ethnically diverse communities. Lesbians and gay men were historically attracted to the bohemian hills of Silverlake, and a growing Latino population was spilling out of the East L.A. barrios, moving along Sunset Boulevard from Echo Park into Hollywood.
Chinatown, too, was growing north and west, with Cambodians, Thai, Vietnamese, Koreans and other Asians joining the migration as well. A thriving Cuban American neighborhood took root at the intersection of Sunset and Silverlake Boulevards, and thousands of Central American emigres were adding their mix to the rich culture of Silverlake.
Today, Silverlake has a population of 104, 520 people. Women and men are just about equally represented. There are 49% women and 51% men living in Silverlake. The median age of residents is 30-40. The second largest group are youth who are 18-25 and of color. Demographically, census statistics indicate that this district is very much diverse. Chicano, Latino and Latin American immigrants comprise the largest ethnic group at 43% of the population. Asians comprise 19% of the population, the second largest ethnic group. Although people of color make up a significant part of the population, the White presence is still strongly visible. In terms of describing the gay and lesbian population as older: as the White population continues to age, the young population of gays and lesbians is increasing. Young gays and lesbians are interestingly more often people of color.
The AIDS epidemic almost destroyed the queer community in Silverlake. In fact, the tragic morbidity this region endoured made it possible for queer hegemony to shift to West Hollywood. Ferd Eggan, Los Angeles City AIDS Coordinator, has even suggested that Silverlake played a role in the birth and queer transfiguration of West Hollywood (lecture February 12, 1997). AIDS devastated Silverlake, but did not extinguish its role in the construction of queer space. Perhaps it has remained a center of the Los Angeles queer communities because a new generation of queer youth began to discover they were living in a historic gay neighborhood.