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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > Projects > Next Generation of Parks > Case Studies > Going with the flow – again – in Los Angeles

Going with the flow – again – in Los Angeles

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The Los Angeles River, as seen in Hollywood movies like Grease and Gone in 60 Seconds, isn’t a river at all: It’s a cold concrete channel cutting under freeways and urban vistas.

But this sub-urban waterway wasn’t always like that, and soon it won’t be anymore. Residents and visitors alike will turn toward the river and its restored habitats and waterways, enhanced recreational opportunities, and “green streets” connecting it to neighboring communities.

Guided by Los Angeles River Revitalization, the river is being reclaimed and turned into one of the longest recreational zones in the United States. Encompassing an 830 square mile watershed, the entire river runs 51 miles, all but 11 of which are today encased in concrete. This major urban revitalization effort focuses on 32 miles of river and incorporates over 240 projects along the way. While the overall timeline is 20 to 50 years to complete, some pocket parks and recreational opportunities already are springing to life.

Two ways to get in the swim, LA-style

Los Angeles State Historic Park: This 32-acre “park in the making” opened in 2006 with recreational opportunities and access to natural habitat. Proposed plans will link it to over 600 additional acres of park and recreation area.

LA River Recreation Zones: For the second year, portions of the LA River are open for recreation in new, previously unimaginable ways – including boating, kayaking and fishing.

What makes this the Next Generation of Parks™?

  • Restoring an urban riverfront to revitalize the city and its neighborhoods.
  • Incorporating pocket parks and recreational opportunities throughout the project’s multi-decade timeline.
  • Creating strong partnerships and ongoing communication with public and private stakeholders along the River.

Project Team

City of Los Angeles
Civitas, Inc.
Mia Lehrer + Associates
Tetra Tech, Inc.
Wenk Associates


Janette Aldrich Law contributed to this story
Featured image courtesy Paddle the LA River

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