Echo Park’s notorious Baxter Street – bad going up, worse going down

ECHO PARK — One of the Eastside’s uniques traffic hazards — Baxter Street between Allesandro and Alvarado streets — gets a write-up and some history in LA Weekly.

The street takes a 32-degree angle straight up from Allesandro to Alvarado. At the apex, the bottoms of many vehicle scrape the pavement and have even become stranded at the top. Even a tour on YouTube can be disorienting.   While the story focuses on a block long stretch of Baxter,  the same street climbs up and down several steep slopes in Echo Park and Silver Lake.

The author of the article, Daniel Ralston, recounts how he himself ended up dealing with that street a couple of times since moving to L.A.:

“I’m going downhill fast and all I can hear in my head is my mechanic, Mark, saying, ‘You should replace the brake pads soon…'”

The street has served as a film set over the decades.   Early automakers, for example, would hold demonstrations that their autos and trucks could climb Baxter.  More recently,  a viral video of professional skateboarder Don “Nuge” Nguyen surviving the steep, cracked streets on his skateboard.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. Baxter is a monster, for sure (I speak as someone raised on the streets and hills of San Francisco – but the hills of EP/SL are nuts!), but isn’t Duane the exact same 32% grade? And that’s one which so many commuters use to avoid Alvarado. I’ve seen a few accidents there over the years when people haven’t known how to brake efficiently when coming down the hill and smashing into people waiting at the light on Silver Lake Blvd. I actually saw one panicked woman who decided to fling her car to the right, to avoid hitting the car in front of her. Instead, she hit two parked cars. Sigh.

  2. Up hill traffic has right of way.

  3. What is the big deal about Baxter street lately ? For us born and raised here it’s just Baxter street .
    An every day commute or walk home etc.. it’s part of the fabric of just being in Echo Park.
    Pre video and social media people would shoot down the west side of Baxter all the time .

    • It’s because Waze is now routing many more folks on Baxter and there have been many problems with drivers not expecting the steep hill and not knowing how to drive on it (as well as blocking driveways for residents).

  4. My daughter used to rollerblade up Baxter, when she was in elementary school! And she wore out the brakes on the heels going down. But it turned out well. She’s now a circus artist!

    I remember 40 years ago, going to San Francisco and having panic attacks due to driving up and down the hills – especially the ones with stop signs at the top. I just got back from San Francisco (where my daughter is currently performing with Cirque du Soleil. to tie this to the previous paragraph) – and found that after 20+ years in Echo Park and driving Baxter many hundreds of times, driving in San Francisco was a piece of cake.

  5. Signs should read “Yield to uphill traffic”. Few drivers seem to be aware of this part of the traffic rules. And no one should ever come to a dead stop on the ridge — it endangers everyone behind you!
    Personally I should like to see signs on Allesandro prohibiting turns onto Baxter between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. so
    that it doesn’t remain a commuter by-pass for Glendale Boulevard.

    • Agree about the sign. Newbies don’t know the hill etiquette and it creates confusion.

      The sign at the bottom that says “hill blocks view” is useless and should be replaced by something else, maybe a sign at the top that says ” trust me, there is a road on the other side. Don’t stop because it will cause traffic behind you to get stuck, honk, and call you an asshole”. Although then they will stop to read the sign and create the problem I’m trying to avoid. Maybe that’s why I don’t work as a civil engineer.

  6. I live on this hill. It has given me very good glutes.

  7. Oh, Baxter Street. Glad I’m not running up and down it any longer (academy days), but still take walks with my wife and dogs on it and drive it to get home. I’m worried that with all of the directions, the new navigation systems use, that it’ll only get more congested. During the recent rain storms, I saw many vehicles (front wheel drive) getting stuck on the uphill climb, only to cause traffic jams and having to pull over the the curb (limiting the flow of traffic), until they could back down.

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