The second half of our walk around Atwater Village was along a rehabilitated section of the Los Angeles River (also known as the LA River). The river runs about 50 miles through Los Angeles County from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.
In 1769, the Spanish, who at the time controlled Mexico, sent a contingent of explorers to Alta California to settle the area. Upon discovering the river, they named it El Río de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula, or, The River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.
And so the city of Los Angeles was founded on the banks of this river.
Because of severe flooding and changing direction on a whim, in the 1930s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the decision to constrain the flow of the river with concrete.
Over the decades there has been much interest in returning the river to its natural form. That can never happen but there are a lot of ways the situation can be improved and provide a habitat for native animals, birds and plants.
We are beginning to see some of this recovery already.
The city council is even looking into instituting duck boat (land and water vehicle) tours in the downtown area which would highlight historic bridges and neighborhoods.
I am in favor of that idea. The Los Angeles River is important to our city and although it will never be a Thames or a Seine, it should be appreciated for what it is—a vital part of our development and ecosystem.
More photos. Click on any image below to start the slideshow.
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