Islands and Streams

Beneath the city there are rainwater tributaries that carry rainwater to the L.A. River, Compton Creek and other waterways in the city.  Many traffic islands are on top of these tributaries.  Alex Kenefick, Rosa Garza-Mourino and I toured islands that are in the portion of the LA Watershed that Alex works with to consider a project on an archipelago along a single tributary.  We decided to do this based on a picnic discussion I had with Rosa in Pico-Union and with Alex near downtown.  After identifying all the islands and mapping a portion of Los Angeles that Alex is familiar with because of his work with the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, the three of us met on 11/19 and visited several islands. (Map below by Alex Kenefick.)


The last 2 islands were on Central Avenue in East Central downtown.  This area is on the border of the arts district, the warehouse district, Little Tokyo and an area which is often referred to as Skid Row but many who work and live in this area refer to it as the largest recovery community. This area is marked by all kinds of diversity, immediately visible to the eye.  We could see the financial district skyline, billboards for a gentlemen’s club, a fish market warehouse, small shops, evening traffic making its way home and people hanging out in front of a rehab program.


While here a security guard named David approached us from across the street.  He said he was bored and will be joining the Marines.  He invited to give us a tour of the area, which we hope to do in the near future.  While there, a few other people smiled or chatted with us.

Earlier in the day we visited an island on 98th and flower and also on Vermont south of Century.  The island on 98th is part of a long archipelago that begins at Jess Owens park and intersects the islands along Vermont Blvd.  The one we were at was bordered by the 110 freeway to the east, an elementary school to the north and homes on the south.  And above was a flight path for LAX.  We sat here for awhile, watching as parents came to pick up their kids.  Soon after, it was quiet.  The street is lined with parked cars and little traffic.


Vermont on the other hand had 2 lanes of quickly moving cars on either side.  A group of guys working on an engine while, down the street, a guy sat in front of a small market playing guitar.  From this island on Vermont, we could see all the way North, to the San Gabriel Mountains and the Hollywood Sign up in the Hollywood hills.


Update: Alex led a Tetherball game on one of the islands along a tributary in downtown.

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