How Do You Envision a Riverfront District?: Dorothy Wong

The NELA River Collaborative project builds upon the growing momentum of efforts already underway to transform the Los Angeles River into a "riverfront district" and to create a focal point of community revitalization. For more information visit

KCET Departures is the media partner of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative.

On April 27, 2013, the Northeast L.A. Riverfront Collaborative hosted the River Bike + Walk Spectacular at Marsh Park in Elysian Valley. During the festivities, community members and visitors shared their stories and experiences of the river as part of the KCET Departures StoryShare event. Here are their stories.

Name: Dorothy Wong
Occupation: Cyclist

What has been your experience with the L.A. River?

Well, I grew up in Burbank and in Hawaii, so my love of water and the environment is something that I've always been attached to, and when I first moved here I sort of saw the river as just this channel that rushed water down, or I would see trash and shopping carts -- I would probably say that was 1990. So in 23 years, I've been riding bicycles for 17 of them. I have seen this transformation, and it is really my sense of peace to be able to ride my bike, to look at the mountain sky line, to see the birds flying by and hearing them. Just today during the festival we're riding along, and there's a family fishing, and they pulled out a carp or some kind of fish that was literally this big [displays size with hands] here in the L.A. River, which, in many of our minds, people think is just a place where trash flows. But really it's definitely an ecosystem and a gem, it's so beautiful.

How would you envision a "Riverfront District" in Northeast L.A.?

Well, I think that definitely finding a way for people to somehow touch the water is definitely important. Learning and understanding what lives down here: the fish, the birds. Honestly, I would love to see a place where families can get away from the busy streets by bicycle and come to be part of park that has a trail on it, so mom, dad, the kids, two year olds can ride their bicycles safely in this park. They can sit down and have a picnic lunch and ride back on the bike path to wherever they started. So, I would love to see parks be contain a bit more of passive recreation, if that's a word, not just a place that you stay and stare at the river but a place that you can actively spend time. Not just riding along the river but stopping, riding in a nice little park, and being able to enjoy more time next to the river.

If there was one place in Northeast L.A. that you would change, where would it be and how would you change it?

Well first of all I would love to see the river path extend and not just stop here. I'd love to see it extend into downtown. I would love to see both North and South extend. Because it is definitely not just for recreation but also a route for transportation. So let's get more of it, more bike paths.

Fill in the blank: "I want my L.A. River to be..."

I want the L.A. River to be my place of peace, I want the L.A. River to live and grow on its own. I want the L.A. River as a place for the people of Los Angeles to, again, find peace and love and community along the river.

Tell us your vision for a Riverfront District using the form below. Click here to see more interviews.

How would you envision a Riverfront District?


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