The Los Angeles River Source
Brown's Canyon Wash Confluence
Confluence of Brown’s Canyon Wash (left) with the Los Angeles River. Vanowen Street right, and the Mason Avenue Bridge, center. As with many other confluences with the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley, this is a feeder channel from the northern slope of the valley, which tilts downward as it goes south toward Los Angeles.
Aliso Canyon Wash Confluence
Aliso Canyon Wash Confluence
The Confluence of Aliso Canyon Wash and the Los Angeles River in Reseda, with Wilbur Avenue in the foreground, Yolanda Avenue Bridge in the background, Vanowen Street, left and Victory Boulevard, right. As with many other confluences with the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley, Aliso Canyon Wash is a feeder channel from the northern slope of the valley, which tilts downward south toward Los Angeles.
Approaching the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area
In the foreground, the Los Angeles River water is all contained in a low flow channel about two and a half feet deep and 8 feet wide. When it enters the Sepulveda Basin, the river begins to flow along a shallow, wider course defined by the concrete channel sides, but with a natural bottom. All of the trees and plant life is supported by dry season low flow. The Balboa Sports Center is at right.
Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area
Above the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area in the San Fernando Valley, about one mile north of the 405 intersect with the 101. Balboa Lake and Woodley Lakes Golf Course at left, Balboa Golf Course right, Balboa Blvd bridge in foreground. Tilman Water Reclamation Plant, upper left.
The River passes by film studios that were located here before channelization to take advantage of the arroyos and empty landscape for location shooting, especially for westerns.
The Los Angeles Equestrian Center
Looking east over the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Griffith Park at right, and the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.
The River Turns South
The Los Angeles River turns South at Griffith Park toward the Glendale Narrows beside the Interstate 5 freeway. San Fernando Road, lower left and studios for Disney Production lower right and center. Interstate 134, Rio Hondo Confluence, and Griffith Park in background.
Entering the Glendale Narrows
In the narrows between Glendale and the Santa Monica Mountains, high bedrock beneath the River creates an upward hydrostatic pressure forcing groundwater upward and into the River, thus requiring a natural stream-bed or "soft" bottom for the River instead of concrete. This hydrology continues all the way to the I-110 overpass near downtown. Plants and trees have been growing and filling this portion of the river with a new ecology including native and invasive plant species, as well as waterfowl, birds and fish since the late 80's when the Friends of the Los Angeles River convinced the Corps of Engineers to stop it's annual habitat removal.
The Los Angeles River flowing Southeast through the Elysian Valley. From left: Taylor Yard, The Los Angeles River, Frogtown, Interstate 5, Elysian Park, and the Glendale Freeway. Frogtown, a community between the River and Elysian Park was once over-run with frogs from the River, and toads migrating from Elysian Park to the River in the Spring.
Approaching Taylor Yard
The Los Angeles River at Taylor Yard, left, the antiquated locomotive maintenance yard for Union Pacific Railroad is slated to become a park, and the City of Los Angeles purchased this property in January of 2017 to that end. The Glendale Freeway intersects I-5 at right, and Downtown Los Angeles is in the upper right background.
Above Taylor Yard
A close view of the old Union Pacific locomotive maintenance facility at Taylor Yard, lower left, recently purchased by the City of Los Angeles for a new park. Frogtown continues on the right side of the river between the river and Elysian Park and the I-5 Freeway. Before the construction of the I-5 Freeway, the Western Toad migrated down from the hills in the spring to the River.
Leaving the Glendale Narrows
The end of the Glendale Narrows coincides with the East end of Elysian Park, and it was here that the Spanish, with Father Crespi, were the most impressed by the living and farming conditions for the new pueblo and the new mission. This is the place where Los Angeles began. At center and upper right is the cornfields tract, the location of the early pueblo cornfields that later became a rail yard, and is now about to open as the Los Angeles Historic State Park.
The Piggyback Yard
At left is the Piggyback Yard for the Union Pacific Railroad, so named because it was the first container facility for Los Angeles. Replaced by much larger Intermodal facilities, the City of Los Angeles hopes to purchase this property for the centerpiece to the Los Angeles River restoration in Downtown. The Metropolitan Transit Authority tower and the Los Angeles City Jail twin towers can be seen at upper right.
The River Through Downtown
Here the River travels through the heart of Downtown Los Angeles where historic bridges cross from Downtown into Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights at left.
Approaching the B.N.S.F. Container Terminal
At left is the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad Container Terminal in South Los Angeles, and at right the Los Angeles River begins to turn south toward Long Beach.
The B.N.S.F. Hobart Intermodal Terminal and Rail Yard
This facility receives all the cargo received at the Port of Los Angeles that arrives daily from points all over the Pacific Rim. The containers travel from the Port of Los Angeles north and underground on three rail lines dedicated to this purpose. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world.
The Rio Hondo Confluence
The Rio Hondo, a tributary and watershed between the Los Angeles River and the San Gabriel River, originates in Irwindale. After flowing through El Monte, Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Downey, it joins the Los Angeles River in South Gate where the 710 crosses the channel North of the East Imperial Highway.
The Long Beach L.A. River Estuary
The Los Angeles River flowing south into Downtown Long Beach. The channel widens to accommodate the increased volume of water due to friction against the natural streambed bottom at the beginning of the estuary, where the flow and depth of the river are affected by the tides from the Pacific. Willow Street Bridge in foreground.
The L.A. River Estuary at the mouth of the river.
The Los Angeles River estuary in Long Beach, looking southeast toward Queensway Bay. The Golden Shore Wildlife Preserve, left: Queensway Bay Bridge, center: Harbor Scenic Drive, right: The Port of Long Beach Southeast Basin, upper right.
The Mouth of the River at Queensway Bay
The Los Angeles River empties into the Pacific Ocean at Queensway Bay. Long Beach Marina at left, Island White and Island Freeman in center background, Queen Mary at right.
The River Widens and Heads due South
As the River takes in water from its tributaries, it widens, and as it exits the Los Angeles hills and city obstructions it straightens. Here the water runs in extremely high volumes and high speed during storm events, requiring overflow basins at the left, to serve as back up in case of extreme storms.
The Century Freeway Overpass
The Century Freeway (I-105) crosses the Los Angeles River and the Long Beach Freeway (710) from Paramount, left, into Lynwood, looking South toward Lynwood and Paramount.
Rosecrans Avenue Bridge
Rosecrans Avenue crosses the Los Angeles River from Paramount, left, into East Rancho Dominguez, and Compton as the River twists again in its southerly journey to the sea.
The Artesia Freeway Overpass
The Artesia Freeway (I-91 at center and left) crosses the Los Angeles River where it then joins with the Long Beach Freeway (710) in a graceful interlacing of ramps and turn-offs in North Long Beach. Artesia Blvd. Bridge in the background.
The Edison Right of Way
The River heads south to Long Beach. At left are more overflow basins to take extra water in a major flood event, and a pump house at lower left to pump the water back into the channel. At right is the Edison right of way that carries power along the river for the Southern California power grid. The land is leased out to nurseries to grow their plant stock.
Linear City: Los Angeles River
In 2004 and 2005, Lane Barden photographed three linear trajectories in the Los Angeles metropolitan landscape: The Los Angeles River, The Alameda Supply Corridor (the Trench) and Wilshire Boulevard. These images are samples from the 131 photographs that comprise this project.
All of the pictures were made at the same altitude and camera angle, with the camera on axis with the linear form in the landscape as it disappeared into the horizon. This kind of work can only be made from a low flying helicopter as it hovers, with the door removed to remove any obstruction. This method of typological sequencing of the images was employed to create a complete portrait of each linear formation in its context of the surrounding landscape.
The Los Angeles River stretches across 52 miles from the West San Fernando Valley to its mouth in Long Beach. It has become a rallying point for environmentalists and cultural activists. Themovement to restore it to a more authentic natural condition has created a community of interlinking stakeholders, players and volunteers that has had a significant impact on Los Angeles and how it now sees itself as a metropolis..
The Trench is an underground passage for the three rail lines that carry cargo from the Port of Los Angeles in Long Beach, to the BNSF container terminal yard in South Los Angeles. This was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United States and the cargo that moves through it is a significant artery of global capitalism.
Wilshire Boulevard is an important historical and cultural corridor between Downtown Los Angeles, and the beach in Santa Monica. It was the first street that linked the downtown area of Los Angeles, to the beach. Arguably, Wilshire Boulevard is a linear city that serves as a kind of central anchor to the greater Los Angeles area in a way that Downtown never could because in L.A., Downtown is another just another place to go - like Santa Monica, Burbank, or Hollywood.
A print portfolio of all images in the Linear City project are in the archives of the Getty Research Institute available to the public for study, and have been shown at several exhibition venues in Los Angeles. All inquires about purchase or licensing should be directed to the photographer.