Where’s my creek?

This page is a mess!  But if you can wade through it, you may find some fun info about where a creek in your neighborhood is or used to be!  I promise to make an earnest cleanup effort in the verynear future.

Veteran Creek Freak readers may recall that I’ve expressed the desire to get creek maps up in a more dynamic fashion. Here’s my first attempt, with some clumsiness.

Lower Ballona, Centinela & Compton Creeks

Grrrr to the infuriating inconsistency of the interface! I don’t know if this is WordPress, Google Maps or some subtle, unperceptible-to-me, variation in what I’m doing that results in the map sometimes showing, sometimes being a link. Click “view larger map” to be taken to the Google Maps page where there is more data.

So as you can tell, this is very much a work-in-progress! My lists of caveats so far: I created it by importing waters of la.kmz (a Google Earth file based on my gis-based tracing of streams from historical maps) into GoogleMaps, using the ‘my maps’ feature. In my test run of my Google Maps, it appears to only show the data that is listed in a side panel you see when you are in “my maps” – this means that to see streams you have to scroll through all the pages of data that have been imported – and when the map is embedded as here, that option goes away. I would have to embed a separate map for each “page” of data (which it’s not letting me do, btw) – that would makes 19 maps! And my impression is that Google Maps may have cut off a certain amount of my data anyway. A bit unwieldy! And due to how the data is organized, it means that you see a stream like Ballona on one page, and tributaries on another – but never the two together. So this is less than ideal. There’s also some goofy line weights that probably need to be resolved in Google Earth or GIS prior to importing into a map.

One fix I’m contemplating is to divide up the map into many maps by watershed, or for large areas, subwatershed – so that the data for one area will all appear together. As I imagine this will mean hours of work, it may well be a very long time before I get around to it. There is another way to “hack the map” as I’ve read, but I’m going to need a little more time to focus on the steps before I try that.

Below remains the less sophisticated but still reliable downloads of older versions of these maps. Slowly I am also integrating streams shown on 1920s era 24,000 scale maps into this digital collection – and yes there are streams in those maps that don’t show in the original 62,500 scale 1900-era maps that I originally used!

Map legend

Map legend

Find a historical stream or wetland in your neighborhood!  If it’s in a pipe, and surrounded by parkland, you may be able to daylight it (dig it up) and make it a stream again.  Knowing where the creek was might help you understand your neighborhood better – why some areas tend to be wetter, why some houses are designed the way they are, etc.  Old-timers in your neighborhood may delight in telling you what the area was like way-back.

The following maps overlay streams, wetlands, sloughs, ponds etc from approximately 1900 on a contemporary USGS map. These are fairly large files, and I felt it was best to keep them that way so you can actually read street names and figure out what is in your area.  Click on images to enlarge or download. These maps are somewhat in draft-mode, but are legible for the average map-reader.  The legend for all maps is at right.  I’d love someday to make this an interactive, groovy find-a-creek site with hover buttons and linked photographs.  But this is the state of my art.

My apologies to the large areas of the basin (San Fernando, San Gabriel Valleys) that I’ve not mapped!

North East Los Angeles

North East LA/Arroyo Seco Watershed DRAFT Map.  FRONT.


NELA/Arroyo Seco DRAFT Map.Back.

NELA/Arroyo Seco DRAFT Map.Back.

The Arroyo Seco watershed features most strongly in this map, with its many subwatersheds (as determined by GIS) called out in varying shades of green and blue.  Other drainages, including part of the LA River through the Elysian Valley, and creeks in North East and East LA are included as well.  The Arroyo Seco was a much-loved waterway, with a large greenway – Sycamore Grove – around it, purchased by the citizens as a park commemorating WWI vets.  Steelhead trout were known to run up the Arroyo to spawn, and it is likely that the Pasadena Freshwater Shrimp specimens in the Natural History Museum collection were also found here.  Teddy Roosevelt called for the Arroyo’s preservation, and artists in the Arts and Crafts movement were inspired by its dramatic vistas and compelling plant life.  Caltrans, as we know, took a big chunk of Sycamore Grove Park and the Arroyo itself to create the 110 Freeway.  Debs Park was purchased to compensate after the community threatened -or did?- sue.

This map was made as part of the Stream Spirit Rising project at North East Trees.  It was done in concert with the National Park Service. It was never published.  Rights to photos have not all been granted, and to those institutions I beg your mercy!! This is not a profit-making enterprise and your image is really doing a good public service.

Myriad Unnamed Streams: an intimate history of the suburban landscape from the point of view of water in Northeast Los Angeles includes an interactive map comparing major historical water flows with the current storm drain network under Northeast Los Angeles. This website is a compilation of oral history, research and anecdotes that gives us a sense of what life was like before the many lesser known streams in Northeast Los Angeles were graded and drained. These include smaller tributaries to the Arroyo Seco, as well as the Eagle Rock tributaries that fed into the Los Angeles River.

Lower LA River

Lower LA River Map

Low Res Map.






















This map takes you from downtown and East LA to the ocean, showing the huge coastal wetland that once graced the San Pedro-Long Beach shore.  There were waterfowl galore there, and made this area a popular destination for hunters.


The lower LA River channel was most likely the original San Gabriel River channel, although the two frequently flooded into each other, joining and separating with frequency.  Compton Creek, more wetlands than creek, is included in this map.  Portions of the Rio Hondo are also shown.

Ballona Creek Watershed & some coastal Santa Monica drainages

West LA

West LA

Hollywood to West Adams



Inglewood area

Inglewood area

[UPDATE 1.23.12]  Ballona’s watershed extends from downtown LA west to the Pacific Ocean.  Historically the LA River flowed out through its mouth, but changed courses.  Ballona watershed was notable for its springs in its headwaters, its tar seeps in its middle reaches, and its artesian wells and wetlands (“the Cienega Country”) in its lowlands.  Groundwater pumping greatly diminished this.  Steelhead trout were most likely present while it carried LA River flows; after the disconnection, it is difficult to know – the headwater streams are so highly altered today that it is difficult to ascertain if they would have been good steelhead habitat.  Of the remaining streams, Hoag Canyon Creek, Stone Canyon Creek and Franklin Canyon Creeks are the most likely candidates. But there’s these miles-long concrete tunnels (and a dam or two) in the way.

For an awesome interactive map of Ballona, go to Ballona Historical Ecology.

Dominguez & San Pedro/Palo Verdes Coastal Watersheds

Dominguez Slough

Dominguez Slough

Palos Verdes Peninsula + environs

Palos Verdes Peninsula + environs

Pobre Dominguez, to riff off of Porfirio Diaz, so far from God, so close to Industry.  Probably the most ignored and most singularly industrialized of our watersheds, once home to Dominguez Lake and surrounded by a wetland, the name refers to the original ranchero whose lands included this once very extensive wetlands.  The 1900-era image shows approximately 1000 acres of wetlands. Accounts in the LA Times describe it at more like 4000 acres – about the same size as Griffith Park.  The name was changed to Dominguez Slough from something shocking, offensive and disturbing, which even the LA Times at the time admitted was “vulgar,” that had been the dominant name(mentioned here if you really need to know)from the late 1800s until about the 1940s.  Remaining fragments of this wetland include the Gardena Willows, Albertoni Farms wetlands, Madrona Marsh, and the Devil’s Dip creek (as generations of boys in the West Athens/Hawthorne/Gardena area called it) – also known as Anderson Wash – in the Chester Washington Golf Course.  The vast wetland was prone to expansion and contraction with the weather – sometimes leaving multitudes of dying fish, stinking the air for miles around.  The mosquitoes were not so popular with health officials either.  Mid-century, the wetlands were drained and converted to industrial uses.  If you are familiar with the endless carpet of refineries and tanks from Torrance to Carson, then you know the heart of this former wetland.

Also of interest on this map are the many streams descending from the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

§ 74 Responses to Where’s my creek?

  • […] Compton CreekIf you’re a Creekfreak, and you’ve not figured out where the water used to flow in your neighborhood yet, then this post is for you.  From 2001-2003 I mapped the old streams and wetlands of the LA area in Illustrator, and began to lay them out for public consumption.  And then got sucked into other projects.  So here they are, in all their imperfection – but quite legible if you are a map reader.  Just go to the side panel to the page labelled Find a former waterway or wetland near you! […]

  • Extremely interesting! Do you know whether those old creeks had names? I’m especially interested in the ones going through the Palms/Mar Vista area. One may have been called Charnock Creek, after George Charnock, a local landowner.

  • Jessica Hall says:

    Hi Laurie,
    No I haven’t come across the names of the creeks in that area. I recall being told once that there was a Walnut Creek in that vicinity, but haven’t been able to match it up with a map yet.

  • David says:

    Do you have any maps of the Hancock Park area? I am particularly interested in tracing a creek that goes through the Wilshire Crest Golf Course and goes into concrete underground encasement at 3rd street between Rimpau and Hudson. It probably works its way all the way to Ballona Creek. Any help would be great. Thanks.

  • David says:

    Ooops, I found the map on the site, but if you have any more info, that would be great.


  • David says:


    At this link, you can see a lot of old pictures that show a few of the creeks that used to flow through Hancock Park.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      David, thanks for the powerpoint – would you mind if I re-posted one of them, with credit to you? You have a shot, looking SE, that shows Ballona Creek in the background! Most photos I’ve seen of the creek are Culver City and west.

      Such a shame they tore down the original high school. I have a little more info on the the creek Rio del Jardin de los Flores which I’ll also post -soon, I promise!

  • Imogen says:

    Hi! I’m currently doing my geography project and I’m really stuck. My sheet says I have to find out what percent of the world’s population live on former wetland areas. I have found out what percentage of the world’s wetland are no longer there but I have not been able to find out what percentage of the wolrd’s population live on former wetland areas, if anyone knows, or knows a website please help!

  • Stanley E says:

    Hi. I’m looking for information on Woodbury Creek that used to flow through Washington Park and south through W. Central Pasadena. It was probably directed underground in the 1920’s. There is a concrete stream bed just east of El Molino Ave. that flows from under Mountian St. (Mountain and Gladys Ct.) and goes back underground before Orange Grove Blvd. It’s visable for only a block along tiny Gladys Ct. before going back underground. I believe this is Woodbury Creek but I cannot find this little channel on any map! Thanks.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Stan,
      I love a challenge. I had heard about a creek flowing through Washington Park before, but didn’t know it’s name – so thanks! I took a cursory look at 1920-30 era maps and basically saw most of Pasadena looking like an alluvial fan (not much in the way of stream or swale contours) but there was a very narrow swale cutting through part of Pasadena, it is quite possible that a drainage was narrowed and straightened by people. I’ll take another look at my maps to compare that swale with the streets you’ve called out and get a post up on it as soon as I can. El Molino meaning “the mill” suggests that this creek you’re referring to may also have been part of Mill Creek, or a tributary to it. I’ll let you know what I can come up with.

  • Stanley E says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for the research and maps! From the street map I can see that the concrete stream bed along Gladys Ct. is a segment of Woodbury Creek. A segment of the natural (but dry) stream bed can still be seen in Washington Park, about a half mile north of the concrete channel. From the maps you’ve provided I’ll looks for evidence of the creek north of Washington Park. BTW, this is an excellent web site! Thanks again.

    Here’s a link to a picture of the stream bed and bridge in Washington Park.

  • Elone Miller says:

    What an interesting article in 8/11’s LA Times. I live in San Pedro, along the edge of something called “Fayal Valley/Stingaree Gulch” by San Pedro Bay Historical Society publications–and Big Canyon by the rest of us. Primarily a gully which begins in the Palos Verdes hills, during rainy season water comes down the canyon to rush thru the storm drain at the top of 5th street on its way to the estuary. There was never enough water to be of use to the early population, but there are enough “seeps” even during the summer that we have a pretty healthy population of raccoons, possums, skunks and who knows what else who leave the canyon to visit homes along the mesa where I live. In any case, it’s fascinating to discover Los Angeles has so many of these hidden watersheds. I recently finished read Gumprecht’s book on the Los Angeles River, then got out my Thomas Guide and marked both Compton Creek and the Domingues Channel with a marker. With the assistance of FoLAR, I hope to explore them!

    • Jessica Hall says:

      I’m going to have to look at Big Canyon – I am curious if it is a site we used for stream surveying several years ago. San Pedro has a few streams, and I recall when working as an architect that our office had a job in SP where the groundwater was at 13′ below grade.

      Another gorgeous spot in your neck of the woods is the Wilmington Drain – just upstream of Machado Lake. The Thomas Guide has a lovely, florid name for it “La Cañada de los Palos Verdes” – check it out, but don’t go alone, as it is a little isolated.

  • Elone Miller says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for the info on “La Canada de los Palos Verdes.” It sounds lovely., and I’ve already marked it on my Thomas guide. The next time one of my sons comes to town, we’ll head over that way to check it out. I’ve already primed one of them about the apparent great birding at the Domingues Gap!


    I retired a few years ago from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on Cabrillo Beach, and at one time they were gathering watershed info for an aquarium exhibit. Unfortunately, the staff who were involved in that project have moved one, but there is a pretty decent library in which you may find some information. Google cabrillo marine aquarium.org for hours.

  • Chuck-a-luck says:

    What’s the story on the creek at ULCA?

  • Elone Miller says:

    What an informative site–thanks!

  • Joe Walker says:

    Hi Joe,
    Ever do any research into the river/stream that runs roughly parallel to the 710 Freeway at Valley Blvd in El Sereno? If you Google Map 5480 Bohlig Rd, 90032, you can see it peek out. There is other marshy area south of there that indicates a possible undreground stream. It peaks out again a mile or so south, and Google map shows it pretty clearly.

    Thanks..Joe Walker

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Joe, it’s Jessica here. The stream in question is Arroyo Rosa Castilla, aka something like Sheriff’s Range Gulch. It is channelized along the 710 and in a culvert through East LA, where the path of the culvert is pretty literally the old path of the stream. It outlets to the LA River. There are a couple of detention basins with open streams through them but I’ve been told the basins are sized for the big storms with no vegetation, so it would reduce flood capacity to restore the streams and make the basins multi-use spaces.

      • Bill says:

        I grew up one block from what we called “The Creek” on Berridge Road in El Sereno and lived there between 1955-1963. I was born in 1946. I learned just a few years ago while reading the history of El Sereno that the formal name of the creek was Arroyo Rosas de Castillas. There was a neighborhood in El Sereno close to Woodrow Wilson High School called Dorchester and many people called it the Dorchester Creek. I went down there to the creek almost daily with my collie dog and spent many hours tramping through it for about 8 years. It had a beautiful ecology full of amazing flora and fauna. There were about 4 different species of water turtles that lived in it that I caught or tried to catch. I called one a fresh water terrapin, another a mud turtle, there was one kind that had red ear markings on the sides of its head, and I once saw a large green turtle. There were toads and small tree frogs and the creek was full of their tadpoles or pollywogs. I never saw large frogs or any fish, they were probably wiped out by residents some years prior. I never saw crawdads in the creek proper, but there was a small colony of them in and abandoned oil well 10 feet from the creek that had fresh water in it. An old timer told me there were many crawdads in the creek some years before. The area and hills around the creek were full of rabbits, coyotes, hawks, and turkey vultures where Cal State LA is now situated. I probably wondered about 2 miles up and down the creek and it had so many micro biomes. There was a large stand of bamboo, a large stand of pine trees further down, and a large stand of cactus under the wooden bridge, and large swimming holes throughout. The place was teaming with dragonflies, butterflies and moths. It was a beautiful natural habitat that the 710 freeway project totally destroyed. It should have been left intact and would be priceless today. There was a group of people who tried to stop the 710 freeway from being built but they failed. If you turn south onto Highburry Avenue off of Valley Blvd. you will find that the creek still runs in an open concrete structure behind the homes on the other side from the 710 freeway. Anyway, we are in the midst of the 6th Major Mass Extinction Event caused by human activity and this is just one of the sad results of it.

    • Bill says:

      Yes Joe, a tramped up and down that creek as a kid between the years 1955 and 1962, from age 9-16. I lived on Berridge Road. The name Bohlig Road brings back memories of the All Saints Catholic school bus crash on Monday, October 03, 1957 when the bus lost its brakes and coasted down Bohlig Road headed east and straddled the narrow wooden foot bridge that spanned over Dorchester Creek as the newspaper reporters called it. The bus flipped over on its back and landed upside down about 40-50 feet below the bridge into the creek. The bus driver and about 4 or 5 students died from that accident. Just after the crash, I had just got out from grammar school class, I ran to the crash site and watched as volunteers pulled the bus driver and students from the bus. It was a beautiful creek that teemed with wild life including water turtles, tree frogs, toads, crawdads, rabbits, hawks, birds, insects, and coyotes. It is too bad they didn’t preserve it. It had a wide channel and banks, I’m guessing in some places one or two city blocks wide. It would have made a beautiful nature preserve today with hiking trails.

      • Joe Walker says:

        Bill…I have researched the crash and even talked to some of the survivors..it was a huge case…the area where the bus went down was a city owned strip for years. A neighbor across the street at the Autumn Point Condos created a beautiful garden there..but the city sold off the lot and not its all fenced off. E-mail me at LAHistoryWriter@Gmail.com to talk more..

  • Joe Walker says:

    Amazing, Jessica..it took just a few hours to write that up. Here is another question..what is the name of the creek/flood control channel that creeps underneath that huge Asian mall on Valley Blvd in San Gabriel…and isn’t that the same creek where several high school kids were washed away about 10 years ago when the channel filled up with water that had been released up river?

  • Greenway7x says:

    Joe Walker asks: ‘what is the name of the creek/flood control channel that creeps underneath that huge Asian mall on Valley Blvd in San Gabriel…?’
    If my maps are correct, that would be either the Alhambra Wash, west of San Gabriel Boulevard, or the Rubio Wash, east of SG Blvd
    I’ve been wondering about the little creeks about Rose Hills (Cemetery, at the west end of the Puente Hills. They all drain into the SG River) There’s darling, little-known Sycamore Creek: You can easy-hike along it for a few miles or, at one point, cross it (no bridge) and take a switchback high into Hellman Wilderness Park, which connects to many trails (yet no great distance to the heart of Whittier). Either way will take you to fine views, including the great copper-domed pagoda atop one of the cemetery’s hills. All these are under the Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Authority. The Sycamore Canyon trailhead is across from Strong Avenue and just south of Rose Hills Gate #17 on Workman Mill. West of the trail/natural area, th creek is channeled along the front of that section of the park, goes under Workman, peeks at the NE corner of a western section of the cemetery, goes under Pioneer and thence gets lost to the pedestrian in freeway/industry land. North, there’s a little ‘San Jose Creek’ which runs along the West end of the Puente Hills SOUTH of the Pomona/60 Fwy; different from the much larger creek of that name NORTH of the freeway. Between Sycamore Creek and bitsy-San Jose, an unnamed (at least on my maps) creek runs channeled along roads and borders. It goes down straight beside Rose Hills Road till the UP RR Metrolink line, where the map has it turn south along the line, but it seems to the walking observer to ‘T’ both north and south. These little urban creeks seem like mere ditches to drivers, but walkers can see them having water all these droughty years AND supporting greenery and wildlife–bless ’em!

  • Chris Jones says:

    Thank you so much to the Creek Freaks for posting this information. I’m an attorney for an environmental non-profit that is located on the Ballona Creek. I also live in Hancock Park along Wilshire, right next to the “Brookside” neighborhood. As the result of meeting some Ballona Creek Watershed protection proponents at last April’s Earth Day celebration in Culver City, I became aware for the first time of how many streams run under L.A. Then a real estate agent friend of mine pointed out that the Brookside neighborhood is so named because one of these streams actually daylights in the backyards of some of the homes in the neighborhood. You can see it on Google maps if you care. I had no idea there was a natural creek so close to my home. Then, another friend pointed out that this is the same creek that runs through Wilshire Country Club. Finally, I put it all together, and with the help of your map, now I know why the storm drains at Muirfield and Wilshire sound like they have water running through them, even on dry days. They do! It’s the creek. In fact, according to my parents, after particularly heavy rains in the ’80s, ducks from the WCC would end up coming up out of the storm drains in front of our house because they had gotten washed down. So, thank you for bringing all of this info to light. I really hope that a serious daylighting effort can gain traction in L.A. once the economy recovers.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Thanks, Chris. I would hope that daylighting would be part of our economic recovery! (and yes, your neighborhood creek in Brookside was what got me started with all the mapping in the first place!)

  • Mike Letteriello says:

    Hi – Great website for us old inveterate watercourse watchers.

    When I was a kid we used to frolic around a watercourse that we called “Alondra
    Swamp” that run underneath Redondo Beach Boulevard near Gardena. It’s now cemented in (of course) and is near El Camino College, which is at Redondo Beach Bl and Crenshaw.

    We used to collect tadpoles and crawdads, and my present-day collecting of tadpoles for our large school nature center led me to become interested in ancient water features in SoCal. I’m particularly interested in vernal pools, which of course have largely disappeared due to development. But I was around when we had open, flowing uncemented watercourses! Those were the days.

    What was “Alondra Swamp’?

    • Jessica Hall says:

      well, it had an incredibly offensive name but today goes by Dominguez Channel (and pre-concrete Dominguez Slough in an effort to erase offensiveness). I have a post about it here. Remnants of this immense wetland can still be found in Carson (at Albertoni Farms and the Victoria Golf Course), Gardena (Gardena Willows), Hawthorne (Chester Washington Golf Course), and quite possibly also Torrance (Madrona Marsh). That’s a large area to imagine as once all connected wetland, some marshy low growth, but also willow forest.

  • bellis says:

    I think I’ve found sections of the first water pipe that Benjamin Eaton built in 1874 from Hahamongna to Pasadena, and while I was researching this in Hiram Reid’s 1890s History of Pasadena, I came across the names of springs such as Flutterwheel and Sheep’s Corral. I know there’s an old map showing all the springs and creeks of Pasadena because Tim Brick once flashed it up in a talk about the Arroyo Seco – any idea where I could find it? And would anyone be interested in seeing this pipe and telling me if it could be the original? it’s graffitied, broken and ignored, yet without it, the Indiana Colony would not have settled in the place they named Pasadena.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      I think I saw a map like that in the Arroyo Seco Restoration Feasibility Study – or at least one with some historical spring names. Sheep’s Corral I think was near the Arroyo Rose Bowl area. Don’t know Flutterwheel.

  • grace says:


    i was wondering if any of you actually know how much of the earths population live on former wetlands?

    this is reallly important so pleeaassee help


  • Chris N says:

    Hi Joe and Jessica,
    I’d love to see the perennial stream at Ascot Hills Park near El Sereno added to your maps. It’s fed by a spring and has gone through some “restoration” recently by the L.A. Dept. of Parks and Recreation. 4371 Multnomah Street, Los Angeles, 90032.

  • John Dorsey says:

    Hi Jessica: I’d like to use your map of 1906 Ballona Waterways for a presentation I’m giving next week. What’s the best way to cite it?


  • Tammy says:

    When I was a kid in the mid 60’s, I remember seeing a pond or small lake at Entradero Park in West Torrance. There were tadpoles and I think I remember seeing orange fish in the water. This is now called a sump and a little league baseball field is next to it. Does anyone have any history on this wonderful former wetland?

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Tammy, I’ve heard a story like that before! I don’t know much more than that its wetland features were in, er, better shape in the past. I’ll post if I get more information. It would be great to redesign the park to be able to better restore it!

  • Tammy says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I’m so glad I found your website.

    The sump at Entradero is used now to capture rainwater but years ago I remember seeing it as a beautiful pond, I guess after the rains. Of course to a child, everything seems wonderful and magical.

    Also I had a question on the Dominguez Channel. It runs up Crenshaw Blvd., cuts over Crenshaw and runs along 120th street, parallel to Hawthorne Airport. Then the channel turns northward for awhile, then stops. What does it do then, and how far does that go?

    Also, years ago I read somewhere in Lennox, there was a pond behind the car wash I believe on Hawthorne or Lennox Blvd. This must of been decades ago. I remember the writer saying they used to catch little fish – guppies? – in that pond. Do you know anything about that?

  • Check some of the maps we’re doing up north….
    http://museumca.org/creeks/GIS/index.html The Google Earth map at the bottom is our latest project

  • Matthew says:

    Do you have any maps of the area of Echo Park, I see the lower LA map has it but the legend covers it.

  • Grant Loucks says:

    What can you tell me about the underground water near our building at 5625 Melrose Ave. Hollywood 90038.
    This was once a Bath house dating back to 1926.
    Grant Loucks
    323 4663561

  • Lydia says:

    Hi I am part of a garden/site committee at Wilshire Crest Elementary School located just a half a mile to the El Rio del Jardin de Las Flores stream that runs through the Brookside community. We are pursueing a community school park idea and want to build a simulated stream with plants that might have grown there. Does anybody have information about the natural plant habitat of that stream?

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Lydia,
      Thanks for coming to LA Creek Freak! It’s great that you want to share our ecosystem with your students in a more direct way, and I hope we can be a useful resource for you.

      Typical riparian plants of the tributary streams to Ballona Creek would include arroyo willow, mulefat, sandbar willow, and in more canyon environments, sycamores. The native blackberry, poison oak, meadow rue, would be likely with the sycamores, while several kinds of native juncus, reeds, and cattails, would be likely in marshier, flatter, areas.

      I’d like to suggest that instead of installing a simulated stream (I’m assuming you meant something with a recirculating pump), consider stream-like bioswale that captures runoff from the school and if possible the neighborhood. This won’t give you a year round stream with water, but would be more in tune with the actual rain cycle, which would be more ecologically balanced. As many of our natural streams were also ephemeral/intermittent, some of the native riparian plants are adapted to that. If you have a high groundwater table, as many parts of mid-Wilshire do, you may even be able to sustain willow on seasonal runoff and soil moisture.

      • Lydia says:

        Thank you for your response. We were thinking to install more like a bioswale/raingarden. We’ve taken up about of acre of asphalt and the area we planned where the bioswale will go is about 120’x50′ alone. We have many sycamore trees on our campus already. Hopes for the future is to have this site as a communtiy park shared with the school and share with the public about this hidden creek in our neighborhood.

  • Tammy says:

    It’s me again…

    Question. On the google map showing historical Ballona wetlands, I noticed that Centinela Springs run all over the place, including a creek that goes across Florence into the Inglewood Cemetery. How do we know this happened? Quite curious, as I’m from that area. Thanks, Tammy

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Tammy, actually I think that there were tributaries that flowed into Centinela Creek from the surrounding neighborhood. The map is derived from historical maps that were scaled as best as possible to match today’s street grid. The actual location of a stream may be off by a few yards but you can often see hints of where streams were just by looking at the topography: dips in roads, the presence of gullies and ravines that today may have a stormdrain culvert (pipe) running under them. With development, some streams were filled in completely and their flow today follows the geometric grid of streets, but usually there’s some subtle difference that belies the old creek.

      • Tammy says:

        It’s a shame that the city of Inglewood capped the Centinela spring, I guess in the 30’s? It should have been left alone and allowed to run its course to the ocean. The city could have been built around the spring and at least controlled the creeks by channelization.

      • Jessica Hall says:

        I agree. However, the aquifer had also been drawn down – today, I’m told they still pull water from the aquifer, but it’s 200′ below ground. So at some point the stream changed from a perennially flowing stream to a seasonal one. Too much water use!

      • Tammy says:

        It’s a shame that the city of Inglewood capped the Centinela spring; they should have left it in its natural, pristine state.

      • Gregory says:

        Hi, sorry to just bump into the conversation, but do you think it would be worth sending a letter to the LA Metro on the possibility of daylighting a portion of the Centinela Creek near the future Crenshaw Line’s track in Inglewood? The future light rail will go right by Edward Vincent Jounior Park.

  • Tammy says:

    Question – where does the water come from underground? How does it get to the aquafier to eternally flow out of the ground?

  • Tammy says:

    I always wondered how the Centinela spring got its water from, that eternal supply of water? Do you know?

    BTW, I was born down the street from the spring, at Centinela hospital!

  • Gregory says:

    Thanks for all this great information. I have been wondering, what is the name of the creek just north of Wilshire Blvd. and south of the Brentwood Country Club?

  • Can anyone guide me to a map of the Los Angeles River made during the years it flowed west towards Ballona Creek instead of its current southern channel. I believe this happened from 1815 to 1825. I am very interested in seeing where it turned west and if there are any vestiges left of that channel.

    Thank you, and great blog!

    • Joe Linton says:

      Look in the book The Los Angeles River – by Blake Gumprecht

    • Jessica Hall says:

      There’s a description in the Reagan flood history interviews (1914ish) where someone describes that path – turning west just south of downtown (I think on Washington) and heading towards USC/Expo Park area. Today’s topo maps provide a good clue – look for those lowest contours.

    • There is a description of the L.A. River as it coursed through the Los Angeles Valley circa 1815 to 1825 and both the large flood of ’15 and the gigantic/millennial flood of ’25 included in the introduction of a book titled ‘Homage To Downtown ~ In Search of Place and Memory in Ancient L.A.’ It is available at L.A. Central Library. There is a topographical reconstruction (map) of the L.A. Valley along with a description of the area’s natural environs at the time of the Portola Expedition. One suspects that the 1825 flood had been caused by a possible collapse of a dam across the bottom of Big Tujunga Canyon and the rapid release of gazillions of gallons of water. This dam would have been formed by a large landslide. The rainstorm which preceded the ’25 flood was not significant, didn’t last more than a day at the pueblo. Warner’s account of the flood, what the early settlers recalled about it to him, is key to understanding the evolution of the river in the early years of the pueblo. The latter flood had a huge effect upon the geomorphology of the lowlands. Thirty years later, an area along the west bank of the river just above what is now Cesar Chavez Avenue was discovered to have been buried under ten feet of soil, which killed a forest of trees. Native Indians laboring in the then vineyard of Doctor T.J. White discovered the trunks of the trees. That was in 1855, just after White had bought his vineyard, had just moved to L.A. from San Francisco. He had been the first speaker of the state legislature, had journeyed west in the gold rush, had been a member of the first freshman class at Jefferson’s university of Virginia and had attended the former president’s funeral in company with Edgar Allen Poe. A brief account of his life is also included in the book cited above. His full name was Thomas Jefferson White.

  • Thank you both for replying, I will check those two out.

  • This is fantastic! I’m jumping the gun by sending this message before looking further for answers to my wondering…is this part of a larger project?
    I would love to get more information. I am interested in learning more about locating subterranean streams etc.

  • gerry v says:

    This page sucks ass, no wonder everything is paved over if this is the best conservation advocates can do.

  • gian says:

    well, I found the creek/steam next to us, which stops about 4 houses from us….but if you continue it in a straight line you’d end up exactly where we’ve got a wet spot in our yard and water pooling up after the rain. 🙂

  • Grant Loucks says:

    I’m interested in the creek (under-ground) that runs thru the Marquez Canyon in the Pacific Palisades area.A small canyon (5 to 15 acres)
    between Jacon St. and Sunset Blvd

  • Thank-you

    I ♥ this page…. It helped to settle a stupid comment on a FB page about the origins of San Jose Creek (the ditch)…..

    This is a valuable source of information, I hope you give talks throughout CA…..

  • […] love the scale of the monumentally awesome Historical Creek & Wetlands Map of the lower Lost Angeles River and environs map below shows a range of buried creeks, sandy washes, historic wetlands, as well as existing […]

  • Kai Kanyon says:

    What’s up fellow creekers , very cool site you are amazing…

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