Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

L.A.'s Historic 'Mother Ditch' Discovered in Chinatown

Support Provided By
zanjamadrefolar01-thumb-630x421-72275
Portions of the 'zanja madre' at Blossom Plaza, Chinatown, April 14, 2014 | Photo by William Preston Bowling

Last week, the construction crew for Chinatown's Blossom Plaza development uncovered a momentous find: about 200 feet of the Zanja Madre (or the "Mother Ditch"). A lifeline for early Los Angeles, the Zanja Madre carried precious water from the Los Angeles River right into the blossoming pueblo that would one day grow into the busy metropolis we know as Los Angeles.

"We're trying to determine how best to keep the whole structure intact, preserve it and have it be displayed for the benefit of the public," said Fredy Ceja, Communications Deputy for Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, whose Council District 1 includes Chinatown.

As a result work on Blossom Plaza, a $100-million project from Forest City Enterprises that would create 237 apartments in the area, has momentarily drawn to a halt. Forest City's archeological team has been photographing and documenting the discovery in preparation for a full report.

Though there is no set timeline for any resolution, the work stoppage will not go on for long, says Ceja. "We want to do both. We don't want to impede on the development at Blossom Plaza, but we also want to make sure we're able to preserve the piece."

The district office is already in talks with artist Lauren Bon, who's exploring the possibility of incorporating this find into Metabolic Studio's $10-million Water Wheel project, which will erect a 70-foot steel water wheel to irrigate the area. The office is also working with Forest City, the Office of Historic Resources, and State Parks to see whether it can be incorporated into the pre-existing plans for Blossom Plaza or Los Angeles State Historic Park, which just began its overhaul.

L.A.'s original aqueduct was completed in 1781, within a month of the founding of the pueblo. Originally an open, earth ditch, the water source was used by residents for regular duties such as washing and cooking, as well as irrigating crops. Over the years, the ditch has undergone a few alterations, including constructing a brick tunnel that would enclose the waterway, remnants of which were found by the construction crew.

zanjamadrefolar03-thumb-450x671-72277
Portions of the 'zanja madre' Blossom Plaza, Chinatown, April 14, 2014 | Photo by William Preston Bowling

Photo courtesy of Miguel Luna
Photo courtesy of Miguel Luna

Support Provided By
Read More
Getty Images - Filibuster - Harry Reid

Kill the Senate Filibuster and Save a Bipartisan American West That Cares About the Environment

Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid along with 18 Democratic senators say the filibuster may need to be reformed or abolished to break the partisan logjam holding up legislation on the most urgent crises facing our nation, including climate change.
Promo images for Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival films

2021 Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival: Tickets and Information

The third annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival is going virtual, from April 12-23.
Kai Anderson's power map of the environmental campaigns led by Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada during his long career in Congress.

Mapping Power and Strategy for Conservation Victories: An Interview with Kai Anderson

Kai Anderson’s eye-catching, multi-colored, hand-drawn thematic maps have developed a cult following in conservation circles in the American West. He walks us through a map he created of Sen. Harry Reid's major environmental campaigns.