Los Angeles River

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The Los Angeles River is a short, largely seasonal river flowing through Los Angeles County, California. Its headwaters are in the southwestern San Fernando Valley. From there, it flows eastward until turning southeast near the Hollywood Hills, in the city of Burbank. Prior to 1825, it then turned southwest, joining Ballona Creek and discharging into Santa Monica Bay. However, during a catastrophic flash flood in that year, its course was converted to its present one, flowing due south just east of present-day downtown Los Angeles and discharging into San Pedro Bay. (Prior to another major flood in 1862, it was joined by the San Gabriel River in present-day Long Beach, but in that year the San Gabriel carved out a new course six miles to the east, and has discharged into Alamitos Bay ever since.) The river's main sources come from the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, although much of the water actually comes from urban runoff.

Until the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the Los Angeles River was the primary water source for the Los Angeles Basin, and much of its channel was dry except during the winter rains. Unpredictable and devastating floods continued to plague it well into the 1920s, leading to calls for flood control measures. The Army Corps of Engineers duly began an ambitious project of completely encasing the river's bed and banks in concrete, with only a trickle of water usually flowing down its middle. Ever since, it has primarily served as a flood control channel, fed by storm drains. The only portions of the river in which it is not completely paved over are in the flood control basin behind the Sepulveda Dam, near Van Nuys, a three mile stretch east of Griffith Park known as the Glendale Narrows, and along its last few miles in Long Beach.

The southern course of the Los Angeles River is located in one of the busiest parts of Los Angeles. Interstate 710 and high-voltage power lines run along its course, and the cities of South Gate, Compton, and Bell borders it to the west. For most of its course, the Los Angeles River is a large ditch filled mainly with urban runoff and rainwater during wintertime.

The river has become a source of embarrassment for many Angelenos, with graffiti lining its walls, garbage strewn along its bed, homeless persons and heroin addicts camped out underneath its bridges, and drag races (immortalized in the film Grease) taking place in its channel. The river's condition is especially bad south of East Los Angeles. Around the San Pedro Harbor, pollution, noise, and garbage have been most severe. Environmentalists have often called for its restoration, but as doing so would require many residents of southern Los Angeles County to relocate, it is unlikely that the river's current configuration will undergo substantial changes in the future.

Riverside communities

Communities along the banks of the Los Angeles River include:

See also

External links

The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth (http://www.geography.ou.edu/research/river/)


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