The Los Angeles River is one of Los Angeles’ last great open spaces, running 51 miles from Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach. The River connects more than 30 different cities and neighborhoods which represent an incredibly diverse range of communities. The River has long been at the heart of Los Angeles and its culture. In the early days the River was the primary source of water for the city and has continued to be a cultural touchstone and is a popular filming location featured in movies from Grease to Terminator 2.
In its natural state the Los Angeles River flowed freely through a broad alluvial floodplain without any established banks but in response to a tragic series of floods in the 1930s the United States Army Corps of Engineers encased the River from end-to-end in concrete flood control channels. In the process most native animal species were extirpated and the natural habitat destroyed.
In 1986 things began to change with the founding of Friends of the LA River, an organization dedicated to celebrating the River and bringing it back to life. In the decades since the community has rallied to the cause and a coalition ranging from the streets of the Elysian Valley to Mayor of Los Angeles to US Army Corps Headquarters in Washington DC have gathered to restore the Los Angeles River.