The Los Angeles River is the large ditch which cuts through Los Angeles from the Sepulveda Basin to Long Beach, passing by Griffith Park, downtown, and North Hollywood.

Its headwaters are in the Santa Susana Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Santa Monica Mountains. To date there are about 2 miles out of the whole thing that aren't concrete. There's been an effort to restore the river as of late but really, theres nothing left to save. People should have noticed instead that the Santa Ana River and other smaller watercourses in the area were currently being concreted themselves and lost forever. But people generally dont pay attention to things like that. The Sepulveda Basin had a pretty bad flood a while back, covering a park and some other areas in water. People fail to realize that these areas are meant to flood so the water doesnt rush into Los Angeles instead. Nevertheless, experts say that if we had a 100 year flood the river would probably end up rampaging through the streets of Los Angeles and Long Beach anyway. The Army Corps of Engineers wanted to raise the levee walls, but apparently didnt realize that if the river got above the level of the city, the water would backwash against the storm drains anyway, or at least the drains would stop working. This has happened before along the Dominguez Channel, another big ditch. But no one seems to notice that either.

This wonderful watercourse also serves as a nice sewer for the city, the water dumps directly into the ocean so anything anyone has dumped on any street of Los Angeles all summer comes pouring out into the ocean after the first good rain. Pleasant, eh?

Fifty-One Miles of Concrete

It is hard to believe that the large concrete ditch that thousands of hundreds of Los Angelinos pass everyday in downtown Los Angeles is in fact the Los Angeles River.

Beginning in the 1930s and finally completed in the 1950s, most of the Greater Los Angeles Area's rivers, creeks, and almost any other natural waterway were filled with concrete for the sake of flood control. Among these was the L.A. River, which from the city's founding until the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct was the city's prime source of water.

Most of the water that is visible is from underground reservoir. The river begins in Encino and was only a few feet wide until flood control projects expanded the channel. It continues in an easterly path, turning south, towards the sea at a place known as the Glendale Narrows. As it continues south it is joined by several other tributaries, the Arroyo Seco and Rio Hondo being the most prominent.

The natural course of the Los Angeles River has been hardly anything but constant. At one time it turned west and joined Ballona Creek, which ends at Marina del Rey. Previously, the Rio Hondo was the channel of the San Gabriel River and the L.A. river lost its name upon their junction when in the late 1800s floods created the San Gabriel's present channel, and until flood control permenantly changed the river's path, the L.A. River's terminus was near the east end of Terminal Island.

Today, a small, but growing number of people are joining Friends of the Los Angeles River, a non-profit orginization dedicated to restoring the natural beauty of the river. Although one problem facing these people is the fact that except for a few portions in Griffith Park, and the Glendale Narrows, the river looks like a big ugly ditch laced with homeless, shopping cars, and graffiti. Perhaps one reason for restoring is that to some extent it is the city's soul, as it was the only reason the city was even founded.

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