News and Events – 20 November 2010

November 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Help plan the future of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Click for full flier and announcement at LASHP website.

> Ever wonder when State Parks would create that “world class park” at the Cornfields? The long-stalled planning process for the master plan at Los Angeles State Historic Park is getting underway again.  Due to state budget issues, finalizing of the preliminary designs never happened, and the “interim public use” park at the site has been looking a bit less interim. Attend a community meeting about the future of the park on Thursday December 9th at 7pm at L.A. Conservation Corps, 1400 N. Spring Street, L.A. 90012.

> Ever wonder what the western United States might have looked like if state boundaries followed watersheds? (Well, not even we creek freaks actually wonder that, but I thought it sounded good.) Take a look at John Wesley Powell’s proposed map of watershed-based western states (via Big Think.) Thanks to Melanie Winter of The River Project for bringing this to our attention.

>Ever wonder about the future of that river-adjacent vacant area between the 4th and 6th Street bridges downtown? Blogdowntown, in an article entitled Nothing is Simple Down by the River, tells about competing plans for a jeans factory, expanded Metro rail operations, and a river park.

>Ever wanted to tell your L.A. River story? Join KCET Departures’ story share on Saturday December 4th.

> Ever wanted to get paid to write about the Los Angeles River? The city of Los Angeles’ recently formed River Revitalization Corporation might have a web writer/editor job for you – especially if you’re a “jack [or perhaps jill?] of all trades” good at “weblinking” and “photo cropping.” Respond to this part-time job posting at Craigslist:

A Los Angeles based non-profit corporation is looking for a part-time website supervisor who is a writer, editor, photo editor and more. We are launching in January a new website that is all about the Los Angeles River: a recreational guide, photo gallery, revitalization information, news, event guide, etc. The candidate should be self-motivated, able to work at home, set their own schedules and deadlines, a skilled web pro, a careful content checker and a totally responsible professional. A minimum of two years of writing and editing of professional consumer publications and two years of website creation/maintenance experience is required. The candidate should be proficient in maintaining websites, including using CMS tools, weblinking, photo cropping, resizing, and uploading. This jack of all trades will be doing the primary website supervision, updating, user content review, blog supervision, news linking and more. You will need three professional references and a salary history.

Passion and experience with outdoor recreation and/or the L.A. River is real plus.

•Compensation: Monthly salary to be negotiated once the time requirements are better understood.
•This is a part-time job.

Read the full ad and respond here. L.A. Creek Freak is looking forward to many more L.A. River websites! The more the merrier!

New Los Angeles Historic Maps Book

October 4, 2010 § 4 Comments

Los Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason, 2010

Well… it’s due out in “mid-October” and it’s not quite out yet… but L.A. Observed and LAist announced it, so Creek Freak figures we better get on the bandwagon quick!

It’s Los Angeles in Maps, a new book written by Glen Creason and published by Rizzoli. Creason is the map librarian based at downtown Los Angeles’ Central Library. The book grew out of the Central Library’s 2008 exhibition L.A. Unfolded (curated by Creason) and features a lot of the great maps shown there – including plenty of fascinating early images featuring the L.A. River and other local waterways. It includes the 1919 railroad company map of the lower L.A. which I referred to earlier (and photographed so badly – now you’ll see what I was talkin’ about.) « Read the rest of this entry »

Map Your L.A. River Dreams

February 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

John Arroyo at Rattlesnake Park last January

The aptly-named John Arroyo wants you to map the Los Angeles River.

Well,  mainly the central part of it – from around Griffith Park to Downtown Los Angeles, including the lower stretch of the Arroyo Seco. What he calls the “Los Angeles River Eastside”… and what east is east and what west is west is a point of contention for Angelenos (though I know for certain that the river is the dividing line.)

John Arroyo is a native Angeleno who is doing his Urban Planning master’s thesis  at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT.) He’s studying the interactions between culture and movements afoot to re-envision and revitalize the river. He defines culture pretty broadly – from informal to formal – from graffiti to poetry to dance to you name it.

In his words, he’s hoping to answer these questions:

What types of cultural activity are occurring along the River and to what extent? How can the lessons learned from the River’s cultural activity patterns play a role in the River’s transformation and inform public policy and urban design to create and sustain spaces for cultural expression?

One tool he’s using is community-generated mapping. He’s distributed a blank map that he’s asking anyone interested to fill in and mail back to him. He’s posted a blank downloadable version and a cool filled-in example here. Get mapping!

Map your river visions here

News and Upcoming Events – December 3 2008

December 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

Look ma, I’m a consolidator!

Disturbing Photos of Los Cerritos – Viewer Discretion Advised – Long Beach Press Telegram coverage of county maintenance crews vacuuming up tons of debris from the Los Cerritos Wetlands.  Shocking photos by Jeff Gritchen. Perhaps we should send the Green Gorilla out there, or, even better yet, prevent that trash from getting in our rivers by reducing its sources.  Perhaps banning styrofoam would be a good start. (thanks Curbed LA)

The Aquarium of the Pacific new watershed environmental exhibition, classroom, and native garden

At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach: new watershed environmental exhibition, classroom, and native garden! (click on photo for Aquarium website)

Aquarium of the Pacific’s New Watershed Exhibit – Los Angeles Times blogger Louis Sahagun profiles the Long Beach aquarium’s newest and greenest exhibit with a three-dimensional model of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.  The content sounds great, and it’s all wrapped up in a LEED-certified green building.  I am hoping to take some neices and nephews down there over the holidays for an on-the-ground review – keep your RSS tuned to LA Creek Freak.

Duarte Approves San Gabriel River Greenway Project – Cities of Duarte and Azusa, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the RMC (Lower Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy) are working together to move forward with the El Encanto Nature Trail along the upper San Gabriel. I only wish the Pasadena Star News coverage didn’t use the unfortunate phrase “paving the way.” 

Beginnings of the Verdugo Wash Greenway?City of Glendale approves community garden site along the Arroyo Verdugo.

Piscine Pasadena Project Procures POWER PrizePasadena Now reports that the Central Arroyo Seco Stream Restoration project, which restored habitat for the threatened Arroyo Chub, was honored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform (POWER.)  Kudos to the city of Pasadena and the Arroyo Seco Foundation!  They deserve a round of applause.

Upcoming Meetings and Tours:

The city of Los Angeles and the Army Corps of Engineers invite you to a River Update Meeting on Thursday December 4th (that’s tomorrow) from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Metropolitan Water District Board Room at 700 North Alameda Street, LA 90012 (easy transit access – next to Union Station.)  First half of the meeting is on LA city projects, second half is on the parallel Army Corps’ Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.  (Note: Apologies for my previously incorrectly announcing that this meeting would include an EPA navigability hearing.  It won’t.  The navigability stuff is scheduled not for December 16th… I will let you know more details on that meeting when I get them.)

Creak Freek’s Joe Linton will lead a mini-tour of the Los Angeles River this Saturday December 6th.  Departs promptly at 2:30pm (arrive at 2:15pm) at Los Angeles State Historic Park (easy transit access – Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station.)  The car caravan tour will last about 2 1/2 hours, touching down at four sites from lush and scenic Elysian Valley to the concrete Arroyo Seco Confluence to the new state park at the Cornfields.  Costs $10 for Students, $20 for general public.  Organized by Alexis Lantz, UCLA School of Urban Planning.  Space limited – as of right now there are only a few more slots available.  For info and to rsvp email alexislantz [at]

Jenny Price leads Friends of the Los Angeles River’s first tour of the Lower Los Angeles River this Sunday December 7th.  Bus departs from the River Center at 9am.

The city of Los Angeles is hosting a couple of public hearings about the River Improvement Overlay zone (called the RIO and reviewed by Creek Freak here.)   These take place on Friday December 12 at 12 noon in Van Nuys, and Monday December 15th at 8am at City Hall.

Urban Photo Adventures Los Angeles River tour December 13 and 14

Urban Photo Adventures Los Angeles River tour December 13th and 14th

Urban Photo Adventures hosts a photo safari through the gritty industrial underbelly of the mighty Los Angeles River on Saturday and Sunday December 13th and 14th. “New Lousy Economy Pricing!” Well organized and highly reccommended and docented by author/illustrator/blogger Joe Linton.  Creek Freak reviewed here and posted more photos here.  Great recent images and rave reviews at Urban Photo Adventures site.

And don’t miss the downtown Los Angeles Library’s ongoing “L.A. Unfolded” historic map exhibit (reviewed here.)  It’s up now and continues through January 22nd 2009.

L.A. Unfolded: Great Maps at the Central Library

October 16, 2008 § 6 Comments

1919 Map of the LA River from LA City to Long Beach

1919 Map of the LA River from LA City to Long Beach

“Maps are not always accurate, are not without prejudice, and are rarely perfect, but they teach us about our place in the world.” Glen Creason, Los Angeles Public Library History Department Map Specialist, from exhibition article in the Library Foundation‘s Aware, Fall 2008

Creek freak got a chance to check out the new L.A. Unfolded map show at the downtown Los Angeles main library. It’s very fun, and reveals plenty about the historic courses of our waterways. The exhibition is up right now in the library’s 2nd Floor Getty Gallery, and continues on view through January 22nd 2009.

1919 Map detail of Confluence of LA River and Rio Hondo

1919 Map detail of Confluence of the Los Angeles River (runs from top to bottom in the middle of the image) and the Rio Hondo (enters at top right) in present day South Gate. Diagonal red line is railroad tracks.

2008 Aerial Photograph of Same Confluence

2008 Aerial Photograph of Rio Hondo Confluence. Diagonal railroad tracks still visible. LA River and Rio Hondo are now straight lines. Curved north/south line is the 710 Freeway.

As a River aficionado, I especially enjoyed the Map of the Los Angeles River from Los Angeles City Limits to the Pacific Ocean, Office of Engineer M of W, LA & SLRR (Maintenance of Way, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad), dated June 1919. It’s about 5-feet by 2-feet, drawn in fine black and red on delicate semi-transparent white linen. The outline of the river’s channel is in black on the (unfortunately poor quality cell phone) picture on the left below. The 1919 map actually has the contours of the later concrete channels penciled in (hopefully they weren’t available as early as 1919 – the concrete channelization didn’t get underway until the 1930’s,) though they’re hard to see in this photo.

Another very beautiful map is the Map of the City of Los Angeles 1884, by H. J. Stevenson “U.S. Dept. Surveyor.” [Actual period after the word surveyor.] It’s about 4′ tall and 2 1/2′ wide and in full color. The river’s channel has plenty of curvy meander in the areas above and below downtown… but the railroads are already present downtown and the river has been straightened from about 1st Street to below 6th Street. The map also labels the Zanja Madre (Spanish for “Mother Ditch” – the original ditch/canal that brought water from the river to the pueblo) running through the Cornfield (now Los Angeles State Historic Park) site.

How our waterways are labeled indicates how we perceive them. The river becomes harder to find as the years advance. A 1938 Los Angeles Harbor map labels a mere “Los Angeles County Flood Control Channel” with no indication that it’s the mouth of the Los Angeles River. It calls the present day Dominguez Channel “Gardena Valley & Nigger Slough Drainage Channel.”

There’re lots more maps – from hundreds of years ago to the present day, representing sites from the original Pueblo to Japantown to the murals of East L.A. Even maps showing California as an Island. It’s a great exhibit that I highly recommend and look forward to spending more time with.

Recent News, Upcoming Events 2008 October 8

October 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

An occasional round up of the very creekinest items that come across my virtual desk:

Use a Kayak, Lose your Job: On October 8th the San Jose Mercury News reported that Army Corps of Engineers biologist Heather Wylie is threatened with a 30-day suspension because she participated in the recent Los Angeles River kayak expedition. “Her supervisors found out about it when they saw a photo of her on the kayak trip on the Internet, according to the notice of proposed suspension letter.” (Note that Creek Freak was jealous that the less-than-100-pound Wylie navigated the river so much more easily than I, who frequently scraped concrete bottom. Creek Freak’s trip blog here: day one, two and three.)  *UPDATE Additional Links:  Army Corps Suspension Letter (pdf) Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) legal response letter (pdf) LAist Photo of Wylie from July 2008 LA River trip

“We have enough to live on, but not enough to waste”: On October 8th, the Los Angeles Times ran this editorial by Dorothy Green calling for sane and sustainable water policy. (Thanks Aquafornia)

Calabasas’ Award for Concrete Removal: On October 2nd, the Acorn reported that the city of Calabasas’ Las Virgenes Creek Restoration Project was honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers Metro Los Angeles Branch. Read about the project here.

Say It Ain’s So: On September 29th Blogdowntown reported that studies show that the 6th Street Bridge will need to be replaced. This 1931 bridge is magnificent. Creek Freek fears that city proposals to widen it into a mini-freeway will be a travesty. I hope to blog about this sometime soon.

Upcoming Events:

The city of LA’s Stream Protection public meetings continue, Friday October 10th (1:30pm at City Hall) and October 17th (7pm at the Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center in Van Nuys.) It’s important that environmentalists attend!

L.A. Unfolded: Maps from the Los Angeles Public Library opens at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library’s Getty Gallery next week. Rumored to have some incredible old maps of the Los Angeles River, the exhibition will be on display from October 15th through January 22nd 2009.

The Venice Neighborhood Council, Heal The Bay, Santa Monica Baykeeper and others host a State of Our Ocean Town Hall Meeting – Thursday October 23rd at 6pm at Westminster Avenue School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice.

Bike Ballona on October 25th

Bike Ballona on October 25th

Concerned Bicyclists of the Ballona Creek host the inagural Tour de Ballona on Saturday October 25th departing at 11am at the Culver/Sawtelle entry to the Ballona Creek bikeway. CBoB came together to make the Ballona Creek bike path safer.

Jenny Price leads Friends of the LA River’s river tours: Sunday October 26th and Sunday December 7th. The December tour starts in Long Beach and marks FoLAR’s initial regular tour of the Lower Los Angeles River.

Join LA City Council President Eric Garcetti for A Day at the River – Saturday November 8th from 9-11:30am at Crystal Street Bicycle Park in Frogtown.

Urban Photo Adventures hosts Unexposed: the Los Angeles River photography tour on Saturday and Sunday November 8th and 9th. More of their great photos here.

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