Where Is Chavez Ravine, Exactly? | KCET
Where Is Chavez Ravine, Exactly?
Chavez Ravine does exist.
More about Chavez Ravine
Glance at the USGS' topographic map of Los Angeles, and you'll find a narrow canyon labeled "Chavez Ravine," a steep-walled arroyo that arcs down from the highlands of Elysian Park toward the floodplain of the Los Angeles River.
And yet, most Angelenos are unaware of this canyon – or at least its name.
For many, "Chavez Ravine" recalls a night of baseball under a warm Los Angeles sky; it was the only name a proud Los Angeles Angels team used for Dodger Stadium, their temporary home from 1962 to 1965. To others, the words "Chavez Ravine" recall news photographs of four sheriff's deputies dragging a defiant Aurora Arechiga Vargas out of her family's condemned Malvina Avenue home. And for a few surviving residents, "Chavez Ravine" brings to mind that bucolic-Mexican American community -- actually three distinct neighborhoods named Bishop, La Loma, and Palo Verde -- nestled in the Elysian Hills.
But despite their strong associations with the name, none of those memories is located in the actual landform known as Chavez Ravine. Instead, the neighborhoods of Bishop, La Loma, and Palo Verde (as well as the stadium that replaced them) actually occupied two adjacent ravines of their own -- canyons that early maps refer to as Sulphur Ravine and Cemetery Ravine.
And so when earthmovers buried Chavez Ravine the community beneath a million tons of rock, dirt, and Bermuda grass, they spared Chavez Ravine the canyon.
The ravine formed millions of years ago as an ancestral stream channel of the Los Angeles River, according to unpublished research by USC geologist James Dolan. After tectonic uplift forced the river around the Elysian Hills, the channel became a dry arroyo. The ravine acquired its name in more recent times, soon after the city granted 82 acres of nearby real estate to Julian Chaves [also Chavez] in 1844.
Past generations of Angelenos knew Chavez Ravine well as the home of the city's first arboretum (1893); then a sanatorium for tubercular patients (1902); and later still a naval reserve armory (1940).
So how did a city forget about a canyon with such a storied past?
In part, we can blame its present-day anonymity on confusion between the canyon and the nearby community that shared its name. Sometime after the first residential tract was subdivided in 1904, the community borrowed the name of the nearby canyon. (Presumably, real estate developers did not like the sound of "Sulphur Ravine.") But Angelenos were still aware of the canyon named Chavez Ravine, clearly marked on street maps by the path of Chavez Ravine Road.
Was there also a more willful forgetfulness at work? Dodger Stadium was meant to be a proud civic achievement, a modern baseball palace that signaled L.A.'s arrival as a big-league city. Images of bulldozers and forced evictions, broadcast by sympathetic news media, threatened to sour the moment. Perhaps not coincidentally, the city quietly erased references to Chavez Ravine -- both the neighborhood and the canyon -- even after bulldozers had turned the last of the houses to rubble. In March 1962, mere weeks before the first crowds poured into Dodger Stadium, the city replaced street signs along Chavez Ravine Road. When the new signs went up, they announced a new road name: Stadium Way.
What is knowledge? What kinds of things do we know, and how do we learn them? Philosopher and professor Tyler Burge, evolutionary biologist and podcaster Shane Campbell-Staton and theater artist Sylvan Oswald answer these questions.
The influence of the Texas Rangers on border militarizaton stretches from its creation in the 19th century, through the inception of Border Patrol and ties to the NRA, to the Minutemen movement that rose to prominence in the early 21st century.
How is it that the conditions that children are born into can differ so much between two adjacent neighborhoods?
What is a university? It's not just a place to find a job, it could be more. What is its role today and how can it be better? Get some insights in bullet point form.
- 1 of 208
- next ›
This episode explores how Yosemite has changed over time: from a land maintained by indigenous peoples; to its emergence as a tourist attraction; to the site of conflict over humanity’s relationship with nature.
California’s deserts have sparked imaginations around the world. This episode explores the creation of the Salton Sea; the effort to preserve Joshua Tree National Park; and how commercial interests created desert utopias like Palm Springs.
This episode explores how surfers, bodybuilders, and acrobats taught Californians how to have fun and stay young at the beach — and how the 1966 documentary The Endless Summer shared the Southern California idea of the beach with the rest of the world.
From its origins as a seaside resort to its fame as a countercultural hub, Venice Beach boasts a rich history. This episode explores the original plans for Venice, the Beat poets who lived there and the history of the Abbot Kinney commercial district.
- 1 of 4
- next ›