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The ravine formed millions of years ago as an ancestral stream channel of the Los Angeles River, according to unpublished research by USC geologist James Dolan.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.
Following days of protests against police brutality, the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission president said today the board will take steps to review and revise police policies, with input from the community.
George Floyd’s death has again triggered demands for police reform and an end to racism — the same cry that occurred almost 30 years ago when King survived a brutal beating at the hands of LAPD.
“Our nation has come a long way, and we still have a long way to go.” said Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church of Los Angeles during the 1992 Uprising.
The Watts Uprising and the 1992 L.A. Rebellion were both fiery chapters in L.A.’s history. Many are asking, “how could history have repeated itself?” To answer that question, we delve into the events that conspired to create more conservative reforms.
- 1 of 294
- next ›
Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Its founder, Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land to the city as a public recreation ground for all the people — an ideal that has been challenged over the years.
During World War II, three renowned photographers captured scenes from the Japanese incarceration: outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and incarceree Tōyō Miyatake who boldly smuggled in a camera lens to document life from within the camp.
Prohibition may have outlawed liquor, but that didn’t mean the booze stopped flowing. Explore the myths of subterranean Los Angeles, crawl through prohibition-era tunnels, and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies.
Although best known for designing the homes of celebrities like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, the pioneering African-American architect Paul Revere Williams also contributed to some of the city’ s most recognizable civic structures.
As recently as a century ago, scientists doubted whether the universe extended beyond our own Milky Way — until astronomer Edwin Hubble, working with the world’s most powerful telescope discovered just how vast the universe is.
- 1 of 5
- next ›