This walk through Maywood Riverfront Park features an industrial face of the Los Angeles River. There is not much in the way of nature, but there is a stark beauty in the vast concrete channel. While this walk is not recommended to introduce newcomers to the river, it's important to become familiar with the challenges facing those who would restore the river and bring amenities to under-served areas.
Maywood Riverfront Park, Walker Avenue and 59th Place, Maywood
DIRECTIONS TO THE START
BIKE: The walk starting point is easily accessed from the South County L.A. River Bike Trail, which runs of the west bank of the L.A. River from the Atlantic Boulevard to Imperial Highway (from the city of Vemon to the cities of Compton and Paramount). To reach the walk starting place, exit the South County bikeway at Slauson Avenue, the first bridge downstream of Atlantic. The unmarked exit is on the upstream side of Slauson. As you exit at Slauson, go left (west) on the frontage road adjacent to Slauson. Turn left onto Alamo Avenue, cross Slauson, then turn left onto 59th Place. The park will be on your right at the end of 59th.
The site is also easily accessed from the Metro Blue Line Slauson Station. From there, ride east on Slauson to Alamo Avenue. Turn right onto Alamo, and then turn left on 59th.
TRANSIT: Take the Metro Blue Line to the Slauson Station. Take Metro Bus 108 or 358 eastbound on Slauson to Alamo Avenue (immediately before the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway). Walk south on Alamo, then east on 59th Place.
CAR: Exit the 710 Freeway at Atlantic Boulevard in Vemon/Bell (just south of the intersection of the 5 Freeway). Go south on Atlantic and turn left on Slauson Avenue. Turn right on Alamo Avenue and then left on 59th Place. Find street parking on Walker Avenue or 59th. If park construction is complete (expected in 2006), turn left off 59th to enter the parking lot.
Alternately, exit the 710 Freeway at Florence Avenue in Bell/Bell Gardens and go east on Florence. Turn left on Eastern Avenue, left on Slauson Avenue, and left again on Alamo Avenue. Turn left on 59th Place. Find street parking on Walker Avenue or 59fh. If park construction is complete (expected in 2006), turn left off 59th to enter the parking lot.
The walk begins at Maywood Riverfront Park, which, when complete in 2006, will occupy 7.3 acres. With nearly 30,000 people in just over a square mile, Maywood is said to be the most densely populated city west of the Mississippi River. Its working class neighborhoods are impacted by their proximity to air pollution from the adjacent industrial areas and the truck-heavy 710 Freeway. This park will more than double the city's existing 5.8 acres of parkland.
This river park has been championed by the city of Maywood, the Trust for Public Land, FoLAR, and others. Unfortunately, this site suffered from chemical contamination, which has held up the construction of this park.
If it is complete, walk through the park to access the South County L.A. River Bike Trail along the east side of the park. Walk upstream (left). If the park is not yet complete, access the river by walking west on 59th Place. Turn right onto Alamo Avenue, cross Slauson Avenue, and turn right on the frontage road directly north of (and adjacent to) Slauson. Enter the South County bikeway through the gates on your right just before the frontage road turns left.
Note the stone pillar bikeway entry points. In the late 1990s, the county installed about a dozen of these entryways at access points along the bikeway. The stonework enhances the bikeway and is much nicer than the stark poles and chain-link fence it replaced, but the access points still need more enhancing to match the welcome of similar access-point enhancements constructed by North East Trees (NET) in the Glendale Narrows area. Some have suggested the need for a "South East Trees" to work with the southeast cities and the county on improving this area by adding native plants, artwork, and signage.
Turn left to walk upstream on the bikeway. (Watch for bicyclists!) Just upstream of Slauson, you enter the "exclusively industrial since 1905" city of Vemon. Vemon is approximately 5 square miles with less than 150 official residents. By day, the city boasts a workforce of more than 55,000. In 1996, the Los Angeles Times called Vemon "a city unlike any other in Los Angeles County... almost treeless... no parks, no movie theaters, no bookstores." Vemon contains 3.5 miles of riverfront, among the most challenging areas for future restoration. (For much more information on exploring this unique industrial city, (see the L.A. Conservancy's 1997 publication, Cruising Industrial Los Angeles.)
The river in this area fans out nearly to its full downstream width. It's a vast expanse of concrete, and the flow is confined mainly to the narrow, central, low-flow channel. The area is most "natural" during the late summer and early fall when sediment has been deposited and low-lying vegetation grows on artificial sandbars.
Walk upstream to the turnaround point, where the bikeway ends at the historic 1931 Atlantic Boulevard Bridge.
Located at 60th Street and Walker Avenue in a densely-populated part of Maywood, this small park is stone's throw from the L.A. River. Efforts are underway to expand the park, and to create a high-quality connection to the river channel.
5208 Atlantic Boulevard
Maywood, CA 90270-2425
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