November 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
> Watch the above vid for more green streets meets complete streets – from Portland and Streetfilms. The beautiful rain garden drainage stuff is shown at minute 4:06… but I know many creek freaks will like all the sexy bike boulevard stuff, too. Landscape+Urbanism has some photos – note that Portland is able to retain existing trees on these projects. Here’s a design for a similar bike boulevard project in Los Angeles that would divert cars off to side streets, allow bikes to pass directly through, and would cleanse rainwater, too: (read more about 4SBB here and get involved!) [more cool green street stuff later this week, too!]> More fun creek freak videos: watch Ballona Creek Renaissance leader Jim Lamm (Culver City Real Estate Voice) and watch the recent US Green Building Council panel (blip.tv) which we announced here and was reviewed as follows:
I thought it was one of the best USGBC events I have ever been to in this city. It was really informative …I wasn’t planning on staying as long as I did, but I found myself so engaged with the discussions and didn’t want to leave.
(It was a a great panel, if I do say so myself, though vid may be “tl;dw” for some.)
> UCLA Lab School plans a Stone Canyon Creek restoration planting day later this month.
> The Jewish Journal reports that Heschel School has received a grant for a new L.A. River mural.
> Contest! About a week to go to name all the animals in the L.A. city’s L.A. River poster and win framed artwork. Enter your best guess in the comments at LA Stormwater Blog.
>On December 7th, The city of Duarte is opening its new bioswale and outdoor classroom park at
El Encanto oops! corrected 11-12-2010: Encanto Park, located on the San Gabriel River.
> KCRW questions the 6th Street Bridge replacement project calling it an uninspired “bridge to nowhere.”
October 7, 2010 § 5 Comments
This Sunday, October 10th 2010 (10-10-10) the city will host its first CicLAvia – a free bicycling and walking festival event that really has little to do with creeks and water issues in L.A. (other than that creek-bike stuff I bring up from time to time), but because I am working hard to make CicLAvia a success, I figured I would plug it here, with an article about the historic 4th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River – a bridge featured on the CicLAvia route.
June 1, 2010 § 4 Comments
This alert, reproduced in full below, came in from the Los Angeles Conservancy. The city is planning to tear down the gorgeous historic 1927 Spring Street Bridge and build a wholly unecessary doubly-wide bridge in its place. The L.A. Conservancy and L.A. Creek Freak encourage folks to come to the Board of Public Works hearing tomorrow morning at 9:30am at Los Angeles City Hall. Details below.
May 26, 2010 § 11 Comments
April 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
Lewis MacAdams and Alex Ward have written a very good L.A. Times editorial on replacing the ailing 1932 Sixth Street Viaduct – one of downtown L.A.’s most iconic historic bridges. The piece is entitled Beauty and the bridge and here’s an excerpt:
Currently, $200 million from the city’s Prop. 1B bond — about half what it will take to replace the bridge — has been set aside for the project. A draft environmental impact report has been completed, and a final report is expected soon. The Bureau of Engineering and its consultants have introduced five design alternatives, most of which attempt to replicate the current bridge’s signature arches. But not one of them comes close to equaling the current bridge’s singular drama. None of the designs has drawn much enthusiasm from the Bureau of Engineering’s neighborhood advisory committee, from the American Institute of Architects or from the Los Angeles Conservancy. None of the designs has stirred anybody’s blood or grabbed anybody’s imagination.
All over the Earth, bridges are important symbols of their metropolises. Everyone knows the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate. Bridges rightfully come to symbolize a city’s aspirations, its hopes and dreams.
Ours is an age of magnificent new bridges. In the past decade a new era of artistry and technical mastery has yielded a new generation of brilliant structures. The next time you’re trolling the Internet, check out Ben van Berkel’s Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Christian Menn’s Bunker Hill Bridge over the Charles River in Boston and Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge that spans the Sacramento River, the newest tourist attraction in Redding. Look at L.A.-based Buro Happold’s Mobius Bridge in Bristol, in Britain. All are different, all are amazing. The specific style of the replacement bridge is less important than assuring that the design be unique, appropriate and iconic.
To promote the highest level of design, Los Angeles should hold an international design competition juried by bridge design experts with strong local participation.
I think that the design competition idea is a good one. During her recent trip to Los Angeles, New York City’s transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan spoke of the sucesses that NYC has had with these sorts of competitions – not only do they produce excellent designs, but they foster a broader civic dialogue about the project.
April 8, 2010 § 9 Comments
My friend Jason Neville was asking me some questions about possibly accessing the interior space of the Seventh Street Bridge… so I responded that we should just go and explore.
I’d never actually been inside the Seventh Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles. Many bridges don’t actually have an inside, but 7th does.
January 8, 2010 § 1 Comment
Here are some recommendations for some worthwhile documentary videos that spoke to me, and that I think would appeal to Los Angeles’ creek freaks. These are from two of my favorite ways to waste time educational video websites: TED.com and Streetfilms.
Romulus Whitaker: The real danger lurking in the water – This TED.com video is about king cobras and gharials (20-foot-long fish-eating crocodiles) and how these species are impacted by humans screwing up the rivers that nurture them and us. Beautiful images of snakes dancing, crocodiles fishing… and awful scary images of dams and pollution that are endangering these creatures.
The View from atop the High Bridge – This Streetfilm is about the oldest extant bridge in New York (built in 1848) and community and city work to convert it into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. Over the Harlem River, the High Bridge was part of the original aqueduct bringing fresh water into New York City. (Another Streetfilm recommended for Creek Freaks: the story of community efforts for Bronx River revitalization in Building Greenways and Community in the Bronx.)
Anupam Mishra: The ancient ingenuity of water harvesting – Another excellent video from TED. All about how indigenous dryland rainwater harvesting techniques have stood the test of time – and are more reliable than current water supply efforts that dam rivers. Not only are these ingenious and built-to-last, they’re architecturally beautiful.
November 22, 2009 § 7 Comments
When some of the Swedish visitors were here for their The Fifth Ecology: Los Angeles Beyond Desire exhibit, we planned to go for a hike to Millard Canyon Falls, above Pasadena. Unfortunately the area was closed, likely due to the recent fires. We instead ended up taking a hike along the Lower Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. The lower Arroyo is a very popular, very pleasant site.
We parked the Swedes’ rental car at the southern end of the massive Rose Bowl parking lots, near the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. A portion of the parking area was recently retrofitted to detain and infiltrate stormwater. A handful of parking spaces were removed to create a few oases of native plants. Here’s what it looks like:
and here’s a helpful sign explaining the project:
(It’s all pretty nice… for a parking lot… but loyal readers can probably guess that this creek freak is not all that into parking lots. What I would like to see in this area is enhanced Rose Bowl access via bike and transit… allowing for much less parking needed… then ripping out some big chunks of that parking to make way for a re-naturalized Arroyo Seco streambed. Someday.)
We crossed Arroyo Boulevard, turned left, and walked downstream. We crossed below the Holly Street bridge and entered the Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park. The park has a very pleasant walking paths with plenty of mature sycamores trees overhanging. This time of year, the site is particularly green and lush. Note that the park can also have poison oak. We didn’t encounter any this trip, but I’ve seen it there before. If you’re unfamiliar with poison oak, I recommend that you stick to the established trails.
For a short stretch here, about a quarter mile upstream from Colorado Boulevard, the bed of the Arroyo Seco is not channelized in concrete. It’s a nice meandering streambed.
We continued walking downstream. Below the magnificent historic Colorado Street Bridge, the Arroyo Seco is again channelized in concrete. In this area there’s a wetlands restoration project that was built in 1997. Water from the main stem of the Arroyo is shunted into parallel side streams, now dense with vegetation. These side-streams continue for about a half-mile below the Colorado Bridge.
There are plenty of wonderful historic bridges on this walk. I am pretty sure it’s the largest local concentration of historic bridges other than in Downtown Los Angeles. These include: the Linda Vista Bridge (now Holly Street) – 1925, the Colorado Street Bridge (now Colorado Boulevard) – 1913, the Loma Road Bridge – 1914, and the San Rafael Avenue Bridge – 1922.
We walked along the channel for about two miles. Though the stream is contained in the concrete channel, the surrounding area is a nice deep canyon – which is a bit unusual for Southern California creeks which tended to spread out into broad alluvial washes. The area is very popular for hikers, joggers, and folks walking their dogs.
We crossed to the opposite bank at the pedestrian bridge just below San Rafael Avenue – right where San Rafael Creek enters from the west. Locals there told us about the remains of Busch Gardens – an early amusement park that was located on the east bank of the Arroyo above and below San Rafael. Stonework adorned pathway remnants of the park are still visible on the hillsides.
The lower Arroyo Seco is an excellent site to visit and explore today… and a site that shows a lot of potential for greater restoration in the future.
(Notes: Another version of this walk appears on pages 160-163 in my book Down by the Los Angeles River published in 2005 by Wilderness Press and available at bookstores, libraries and on-line. Thanks to My Wårhagen for taking the photos.)