Heavy Rains Reveal Creek Streets

March 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

After Sunday’s daylong rainstorms, the rains ended and the sky still looked plenty cloudy Monday-yesterday, I bundled up and was bicycling into downtown, when I came to this massive puddle across from LaFayette Park. The photo shows the south side of Wilshire Boulevard between Commonwealth Avenue and Hoover Street. I didn’t get a shot of it, but there was a least a couple of feet of water in the park itself. The southwest corner of the park, normally enjoyed by lots of skateboarders, was being enjoyed by a half-dozen ducks.

Yesterday's post-rainstorm pond, Arroyo de la Brea re-emerging on Wilshire Boulevard across from LaFayette Park

Creek Freaks will recall (from Jessica’s earlier article Commerce over creeks at Wilshire + Hoover and other mentions since) that this particular dip in Wilshire Boulevard, and this part of LaFayette Park, were historically Arroyo de la Brea – a creek tributary of Ballona Creek.

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Commerce over creeks at Wilshire + Hoover

November 10, 2008 § 4 Comments


Not going to happen.

Not going to happen.

Joe forwarded me the following blog post, about a planned shopping center at Wilshire and Hoover, across from Lafayette Park:

Curbed LA: Rumblings Update: New Shopping Center at Lafayette Park

Oh, that hurts, as for years I’ve been hoping we could convince a public agency to acquire the parking lot in question and use it to expand Lafayette Park, one of the city’s most intensively used parks, in probably the densest and most park-poor part of Los Angeles.  I knew it was a losing battle, it would take serious political will to purchase property for the public good on Wilshire Blvd, but it is disappointing nonetheless.  In expanding the park, we also would create an opportunity to daylight the buried Arroyo de la Brea, the stream that used to flow through this terrain.  I referenced it in an earlier post.

And it was called Arroyo de la Brea for good reason, as even today there are tar seeps in the parking lot. I almost lost my shoe in one of them back in 2001 when I first explored the area. I hope the developer is well informed about their legal obligation to not only notify the Natural History/George C. Page Museum about any archeological remains they encounter (i.e. dinos) but they will also cover the excavation costs on behalf of the Museum, which is a County facility.

So before it all goes into the dustbin of wasted idealism, here’s some slides I put together for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, to promote what could happen at Lafayette Park (and surrounds), including a public-private partnership scenario. Meanwhile, the once graceful Lafayette Park is continuing to be chopped up into an increasingly visually disjointed patchwork of specifically programmed uses.  Would this happen in Pacific Palisades?

Rivers Lost to City

September 20, 2008 § 7 Comments

Click on image to enlarge article

I did a double take on this title.  Was this the Judith Lewis piece, Lost Streams of Los Angeles, featuring, among other things, my creekfreaky research and advocacy for LA’s buried streams?  

No, this is a 1924 Los Angeles Times article, a wistful and racially peculiar (to be charitable, we’ll call it naive) obituary to the streams that were being buried at that time.  While not making any strong environmental case for preserving these streams, the author nostalgically laments the decline of a more pastoral era, stating: “And so the romance of the city goes – the prosaic storm drains and high priced lots have run the alluring arroyos out of business.”  

The story also fills in this Creekfreak on a long-simmering mystery – the name of the creek that used to flow through Lafayette Park – Arroyo de la Brea (Tar Creek).  Worth noting the name, as there is a parking lot across the street from Lafayette Park that oozes tar to this day. If you’re into weird urban geology, ask the car rental company permission to go to the back of the lot and take a look.

From the City of Los Angeles Navigate LA archives

For the curious, here’s a stormdrain map of a portion of Arroyo de los Reyes, the downtown creek mentioned in the article.  I am working on the connection of this to Echo Park-historical maps clearly show two streams that joined where Echo Park lake is today, with a perennial creek flowing along the path that is now Glendale Blvd to 2nd Street.  But the maps lose the flow around Figueroa.  This description here may fill in the gap – and we Echo Parkians may now have a name for our buried creek!

More later on lost rivers – and more importantly a City effort to preserve what’s left.

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