UCLA – Janss Steps



While the Janss Steps at UCLA are a remarkable architectural creation, they also tell a story of history’s complexities. These 87 steps, carved into the campus landscape, inspire curiosity and contemplation. But beneath their sun-warmed stone lies a tale of disagreement, betrayal, and redemption—a narrative that goes beyond mere aesthetics.

Legend has it that two brothers, Edwin and Harold Janss, shaped the destiny of UCLA. In the early 20th century, they sold 380 acres of Westwood land to the University, paving the way for the beloved institution. However, their legacy is not without shadows. The Janss Investment Company, which they owned, imposed racial covenants, preventing people of color from owning properties or businesses in Westwood Village. In 1938, they denied UCLA’s first Asian interest sorority, Chi Alpha Delta, the opportunity to buy a house on Hilgard Avenue. The California Supreme Court upheld these covenants, but history would later overturn them. The Janss Steps, named after these brothers, reflect their duality: progress intertwined with prejudice.

The Janss Steps are a magnet for artists and storytellers. Their symmetry, framed by palm trees, invites cameras to capture their essence. Light plays on the worn stone, revealing layers of time—the footsteps of countless students, the echoes of debates, and the whispers of dreams. But the steps are more than just aesthetically pleasing; they embody the tension between past and present. Martin Luther King Jr. stood here in 1965, speaking about segregation and racial injustice. His words resonate through the steps, urging us to confront our shared history. Photographers seek not only beauty but also truth—the interplay of light and shadow, resilience, and redemption.

Owning an image of the Janss Steps is to embrace complexity. Hang it in your home, and you’ll have a piece of UCLA’s journey—a reminder that progress is often made on contested ground. Place it in your workspace, and let its shadows inspire your efforts. Gift it to a graduate, and they’ll inherit not just steps but stories—the struggle for justice, the quest for understanding. This image spans generations, linking you to a legacy of growth and transformation. It’s not just pixels; it’s a bridge—a path to reflection, resilience, and hope.

Location: Los Angeles, University of California – Los Angeles

Media: Fine Art Landscape Prints