A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LOS ANGELES RIVER
The Los Angeles River is the original source of life for the City of Los Angeles. It is where the Tongva and, later, the Spanish built the City’s first settlements and where, today, ethnically diverse neighborhoods prosper. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the River powered the City’s industry and served as an important transportation corridor, creating economic value and growth. As development encroached upon the river’s floodplain, eventual flooding destroyed homes and property, harming people and wreaking havoc on some of the City’s most significant original settlements.
See also: The History of the LA Aqueduct at http://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/historyoflaa/
LOS ANGELES RIVER TIME LINE
5,000 B.C.E. - 1700’s - Tongva and Yangna Indian villages inhabit the River area
1769 - Gaspar de Portola and father Juan Crespi name the River Nuestra Señora de la los Angeles de la Porciuncula.
1781 - El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles is founded where Olvera Street now exists.
1825 - A massive flood cuts a new path south of the pueblo to San Pedro Bay
1850 - Los Angeles incorporated as a City
mid 1800’s - Development boom results in homes and businesses being built in the floodplain
1910 - City passes ordinance prohibiting dumping in the River
1910-1933 - Many of the historic bridges are built, while levees are built along more than a third of the River
1914 - Major flood causes widespread damage
1918 - Increasing industrialization along the River’s banks
1921 - Flood control construction moves the mouth of the River one mile east
1934 - Massive flooding occurs causing Congress to authorize concrete channels
1935 - Army Corps begins channelization
1938 - Most devastating flood on record
1941 - Sepulveda Dam is completed
1979 - Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve is established
1979 - Legislation to establish Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) (Jan 1, 1980: SMMC born)
1985 - Group of artists and poet Lewis MacAdams found the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR)
1989 - Mayor Tom Bradley establishes first task force on the River to look at potential River improvements
1990 - County of Los Angeles River Task Force is formed and restoration efforts begin
1992 – Proposition A: County receives open space assessment district funds to provide new River access through parks and bike trails (with additional funding occurring in 1996)
1992 - Los Angeles County establishes the Los Angeles River Advisory Committee to oversee the County’s Los Angeles River Master Plan
1993 - The California Costal Conservancy publishes The Los Angeles River Park and Recreation Survey, identifying potential projects along the River
1994: Knox Avenue/ "Elysian Gateway Park", SMMC and MRCA buy land and build first of series of pocket parks along LA River in Elysian Valley.
1996 - The City passes Proposition K, which secures money for improvement, construction, and maintenance of City parks.
1996 - The County of Los Angeles River Master Plan is approved by the Board of Supervisors.
1997 - First segment of Los Angeles City Los Angeles River Bike Path opens, adding to 17 miles of Los Angeles County Los Angeles river bike trails
1998: SMMC and MRCA purchase Lawry’s and renovate for Los Angeles River Center and Gardens (with City, County, state funding).
2000- The State passes Proposition 12 for Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean air, and Coastal Protection, contributing millions of dollars to Los Angeles River projects.
2000- The State passes Proposition 13, Safe drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act.
2002- The State passes Proposition 50 to allocate money to clean up the drinking water supply and watershed.
2002- The State passes Proposition 40, which allocates $2.6 billion in bonds for natural resource conservation, parks, and historical and cultural resources.
2002 – The Alex Baum Bicycle Bridge opens along the LA River.
2002– The Ad Hoc Committee on the Los Angeles River is established by City Council and Chaired by Councilmember Ed Reyes.
2002 - Los Angeles River Trash Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was adopted, which establishes pollutant limits a water body can receive without violating water quality standards.
2003 - Los Angeles River Nutrient TMDL was adopted.
2003 - Los Angeles River City Department Task Force is established and Chaired by the City Engineer.
2004 - The City passes Proposition O, which raises $500 million in bonds for watershed protection.
2004 - The County Master Plan Advisory Committee establishes official landscape and signage guidelines for the river and the right-of-way.
2004 - First Los Angeles City River Appreciation Day is celebrated.
2005- The "mile marker" pilot program along the River becomes fully operational.
2005 – City of Los Angeles approves and completes official river signage and mileage markers program for the River.
2005 - A portion of the zanja madre, or "mother ditch," the original water system for the City, is discovered during Metro Gold Line construction near the Cornfields.
2005 - Catch basin inserts and covers are the first project funded by Prop O that would install 8000 inserts and 6000 covers to prevent trash from flowing into the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek.
2005- Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek trash TMDLs were revised and adopted.
2005- The Plastic Bag Taskforce for the City of LA is established to address plastic litter in the Los Angeles River.
2005- Funded by DWP, the City issues a RFP for the Revitalization Master Plan and Tetra Tech Consultant Team is selected to develop the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan.
2005-2007 - As part of the LARRMP, over 20 public workshops are held to encourage community input.
2006 – First Sister River agreement signed, marking international dialogue and information sharing about revitalization efforts
2006 – The Los Angeles River Planning Unit is established in the Department of City Planning.
2006 – City of Los Angeles’ Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), a stakeholder based water resource planning strategy, is approved.
2006 - City signs an agreement with US Army Corps of Engineers to co-sponsor the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study and establishes a future cost-share and partnership with the Federal government.
2006 - Integrated Regional Water Management Plan is approved for the region.
2006 – Studio City greenway opens along the River.
2006 - First Youth Workshop on the Los Angeles River takes place. Over 500 students from local high schools attend.
2006 – The Interim Public Use at Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) opens.
2006 – The State passes Proposition 84, The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond.
2006 – Los Angeles River Street Ends Biofiltration Project in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Northeast Trees creates a green street at Oros St.
2007 – The City Council adopts the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan establishing a blueprint for future revitalization of the River.
2007 – Rio de Los Angeles State Park opens at Taylor Yard.
2007 – Senator Boxer and Congress includes authorization of $25 million for the Los Angeles River in the Federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
2008 – First annual LA River Day on Capitol Hill is hosted by Congressmember Lucille Roybal-Allard
2009 – River Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) signed by the City and County of Los Angeles establishing the River Cooperation Committee
2009 – City Council establishes the Watershed Infiltration for Supply and Environmental Restoration (WISER) Committee to coordinate water issues between LADWP, Sanitation, and the Bureau of Engineering.
2009 – Prop O funding used to purchase Albion Dairy site along the Los Angeles River
2009 – The Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit entity, is established and Board members are appointed by the City of LA
2010 - LA River Corps is established in a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps to create job training for youth to serve as River Ambassadors, helping to clean, restore, and provide bicycle patrol along the river.
2010 - Funding is appropriated by Congress to the Army Corps of Engineers for the Bowtie Parcel Demonstration Project in Cypress Park along the River.
2010 – Completion of LA River Bike Path through Elysian Valley
2010 – Los Angeles River is affirmed as a Traditionally Navigable Waterway under the Federal Clean Water Act.
2010 – Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and other White House officials attend America’s Great Outdoors Listening Session and visit the Los Angeles River
2011 – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa holds first LA River Day of Service
2011 – The Los Angeles River is chosen as one of a few Federal Urban Waters Pilot programs.
2011 – The Paddle the LA River pilot program begins in Sepulveda Basin led by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC).
2011 – Low Impact Development Ordinance (LID) passed by the City Council to enhance stormwater regulations in Los Angeles
2012 – Confluence Plaza is completed in partnership with the MRCA at the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco tributary.
2012 – Opening of N. Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration project along the River
2012 – The Old Lincoln Heights Jail along the River receives Community Development Block Grant funding to study revitalization options.
2012 – International Design Competition held to select a design for the replacement of the iconic 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River.
2012 – The City of Los Angeles receives a Sustainable Communities Federal Partnership Grant and establishes the Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) Riverfront Collaborative.
2012 – City of Glendale creates the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk
2013 – The City Council adopts the Cornfields Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP), which establishes new mixed-use zoning districts along the Los Angeles River as well as a greenway buffer.
2013 – Completion of Sunnynook River Park including the naming of Lewis MacAdams Riverwalk
2013 – NBC Universal agrees to contribute $13.5 million towards the LA River bike path between Studio City and Griffith Park.
2013 – Ed P. Reyes River Greenway completed in Lincoln Heights.
2013 – The Los Angeles River Pilot Recreation Zone opens in the Glendale Narrows, managed in partnership by the MRCA.
2013 – The Ad Hoc Committee for the Los Angeles River is integrated into the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, a standing committee of the Los Angeles City Council.
2013 – The Army Corps of Engineers releases recommendations for the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.