Silver Lake has a wide variety of residential areas from expensive homes around the reservoir to more affordable housing closer to Sunset Boulevard; however, in recent years, significant gentrification has happened closer to the 101 Freeway and Sunset Boulevard, pushing out some lower income residents to Echo Park and other nearby areas.
The housing stock of Silver Lake contains some of the most famous modernist architecture in North America. Architect Richard Neutra, designer of many homes in the area, built his own home on Silver Lake Boulevard. The house still exists, and is visited by architecture fans and students. Neutra’s offices were nearby on Glendale Boulevard. The building signage bears the name of his firm. A block east of Silver Lake Boulevard. and near Neutra’s home is Neutra Place, home to several homes he designed.
Silver Lake has a fair share of businesses, but is better known for its residential areas. It has a wide variation in ethnicities and subcultures, including a large gay population. After the two zip codes in the West Hollywood area, 90046 and 90069, Silver Lake’s 90026 zip code has the highest number of same-sex couples in the Los Angeles metro area.
Although the Silver Lake borders are considered to be soft, the Silver Lake neighborhood council does a good job of mapping the boundaries. Neighborhood Council Map and Boundaries
As of the census of 2000, there are 30,972 people in the neighborhood. Silver Lake is one of the most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. The racial makeup of the neighborhood is 41.8% Hispanic, 34.0% non-Hispanic white, 18.0% east Asian, 2.74% black, and 3.1% from other ethnicities.
In the community of Silver Lake lies the namesake reservoir composed of two basins, with the lower named Silver Lake and the upper named Ivanhoe. The lower body of water was named in 1906 for Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver, and in turn lends its name to the neighborhood. The upper body received its name after the 1819 Sir Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe.
The reservoirs are owned and maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), and currently they provide water to 600,000 homes in downtown and South Los Angeles. At capacity, they hold 795 million gallons of water. The Silver Lake Reservoir’s water resources will be replaced by an underground reservoir in Griffith Park, slated for completion in January 2015.
The reservoir is surrounded by a recently completed jogging path that measures to 2.2 miles around the reservoir. The reservoir is also home to three parks, the Silver Lake Dog Park, the Silver Lake Recreation Center and the Silver Lake Meadow (opened April 2011). The Silver Lake Recreation Center contains numerous facilities including indoor and outdoor basketball courts, and offices for local amateur sports teams.
During the 1930s, Walt Disney built his first large studio in Silver Lake at the corner of Griffith Park Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue, now the site of Gelson’s Market. As consequence, the name “Hyperion” is of great significance to the Walt Disney Company, with many company entities carrying the name, such as Hyperion Books and the Hyperion Theater in Disneyland. A few blocks away on Glendale Boulevard was the studio of Tom Mix. The location is now occupied by the Mixville shopping center. It is rumored that Mix buried his steed “Tony, the Wonder Horse” on the property. The neighborhood is crisscrossed by numerous municipal staircases that provide pedestrian access up and down the neighborhood’s signature hills. Among these are the Descanso Stairs, Redcliffe Stairs and the Music Box Stairs. The famous flight of stairs in Laurel and Hardy‘s film The Music Box are located between lower Descanso Drive and Vendome Street, as it winds up and around the hill.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Silver Lake neighborhood became the nexus of Los Angeles’ gay leather subculture, the equivalent of the SoMA neighborhood in San Francisco.  Since 2000, Gentrification has intensified in the neighborhood, including the opening of many stylish independent boutiques, coffee shops, fitness studios, and restaurants.
As of 2010, Silver Lake is represented by Los Angeles City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council was formed in the early 2000s and certified a part of the City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council system in February, 2003. Its 21-member Governing Board is elected for two-year terms in March. Recent projects have included ‘Street Medallions’, created by artist Cheri Gaulke, and ‘ArtCans’ created by several different artists and groups.
The Silver Lake Residents Association, Silver Lake Improvement Association, Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Neighbors for Peace and Justice are all active in the area.
Since the 1990s, Silver Lake has become the center of the alternative and indie rock scene in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is home to two major street festivals each year: the Silver Lake Jubilee, held in May and the Sunset Junction Street Fair, held in August. The Silver Lake Jubilee, a more recent addition, features live music by local musicians, local artists and community businesses. The Sunset Junction Festival features larger, national musicians and has been the home of musicians such as Andrew McMahon, Autolux, Beck, Beth Hart, Bon Harris, Bret McKenzie, Chuck Ragan, Cold Cave, Darker My Love, Dum Dum Girls, Earlimart, Eels, Elliott Smith, The Elected, Eulogies, Giant Drag, Irving, Jane’s Addiction, Joey Waronker, Karen O, Local Natives, Lou Barlow, Mia Doi Todd, Pavement, Piebald, Porno for Pyros, Possum Dixon, Moving Units, The Shore, Henry Rollins, Rilo Kiley, 8 Bit Weapon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roddy Bottum, Scarling., Sea Wolf, The One AM Radio, Tom Waits and Imaad Wasif. The band Silversun Pickups took its name from the strip mall at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Silver Lake Boulevard. Since the indie rock music scene is particularly prominent in this neighborhood, comparisons are often drawn between Silver Lake and New York City’s Williamsburg district. As a result, it is sometimes referred to as the “Williamsburg of the West”. Silver Lake is the setting of the song “From Silver Lake” by Jackson Browne, as well as the song “Sleepless in Silver Lake” by the band Les Savy Fav. Dangerhouse Records was named after a house located on Carondelet Street. Dangerbird Records was founded in and is currently located in Silver Lake. Silver Lake has also been the home of independent record label Epitaph Records for many years now. Since 2004, Avatar Records has been headquartered in Silver Lake on Hyperion Avenue and UK indie Beggars Group moved next door to Avatar in 2011.