Northeast L.A. Riverfront | KCET
Northeast L.A. Riverfront
The NELA Riverfront District Vision and Economic Development Plan was the result of community engagement activities that were aimed at celebrating Northeast Los Angeles’ riverfront neighborhoods: Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park and Lincoln Heights. From 2013 to 2014, the Plan documented ideas from the community with the goal of improving the NELA Riverfront area and giving recommendations to deliver those improvements to the L.A. River and its surrounding Northeast Los Angeles riverfront neighborhoods. Download the Vision Plan (93.6 MB)
Long a neglected part of our city's landscape, the Los Angeles River once defined life in the area. Before there was a California, or even a United States, the Gabrieleño Indians had a community of over 45 villages dotting the San Fernando Valley and present day Glendale, and the River was their foundation, providing water and a diverse selection of food. In 1769, Spain's Gaspar de Portola "discovered" the river during his explorations, dubbing it El Río de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula. Later it was shortened to reflect the name of the city growing around it -- the waterway that once defined the region now becoming its subordinate.
Although the river was fairly dry for most of the year, winter rains often brought with them dramatic and unpredictable flash floods well into the 1930s. After a devastating flood in 1938, Angelenos began to demand flood control measures, resulting in the Army Corps of Engineers' work over the next 30 years to essentially turn the river into a man-made storm drain.
Now, work on the Los Angeles River has moved from flood control to conservation, as advocacy groups and individuals take on the task of preserving and restoring the river and its wildlife. The Los Angeles River itself is increasingly the site of artistic, social, and educational activity, once becoming a lifeline linking a growing and diverse population.
The L.A. River was once the foundation of life in the area, long before there was a California or even a United States. Today, efforts are under way to return its role as a vital component of our city's landscape.