A Little Bit of LA River

Portland's river is a central gathering place for the city. New York lives between two rivers. A river defines Washington DC's geography.<br /> <br /> In Los Angeles, the river is a concretized ditch.<br /> <br /> But that river was always wilder than the others. Until the last century it ran not north-south -- its course today -- but east-west, emptying in Santa Monica instead of San Pedro. I have an antique map of Los Angeles on my living room wall, the first one published (1849 or so), and the river does indeed run perpendicular to the one I grew up driving over, or next to.

Read Time: 1 minute

June 23, 2006, 10:25 PM PDT

By Anonymous (not verified)


Portland's river is a central gathering place for the city. New York lives between two rivers. A river defines Washington DC's geography.

In Los Angeles, the river is a concretized ditch.

But that river was always wilder than the others. Until the last century it ran not north-south -- its course today -- but east-west, emptying in Santa Monica instead of San Pedro. I have an antique map of Los Angeles on my living room wall, the first one published (1849 or so), and the river does indeed run perpendicular to the one I grew up driving over, or next to.

Here's a nice little radio story -- the link goes to the transcript -- about efforts to re-naturalize parts of the river, to put a little more ecology and a few more square miles of parkland into the big sprawl.

If you're really into the LA River, also check out Blake Gumprecht's book The Los Angeles River. It's a complete history, and charming, too. And it'll totally put you off the seemingly annual snotty newspaper stories where correspondents for East Coast papers make fun of LA's waterway and make obligatory references to the drag race in Grease.


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