30 Sep

I enjoyed the movie Drive recently. Part of it took place in the often filmed Los Angeles river culverts, also featured in Grease, Terminator II, and Repo Man, among others.

After an exciting drive, the Driver, Irene, and Benicio find an intersection between the stark paving and a lush river. I didn’t believe this could actually exist so did some research and found this location on Google Maps in Reseda, a suburb of LA. Evidently, the channels are naturalized at a few points along the rivers path.

As is often the case, community members have insight into their surroundings:

Where the ugly old cement ends, there is still a hint of the wild river that the L.A. River used to be. Anal-retentive city planners, decades ago, decided a cement channel was the way to tame it. Pity.

– via Jerry Garrett

Now, the Ad Hoc River Committee and Friends of the Los Angeles River are part of a master plan to restore the naturalize much of the river, creating green space, supporting wildlife, and changing how stormwater is managed. This process will have significant environmental, economic, and social benefits for the surrounding communities.

It’s intriguing that the concrete channels have become a part of movie history and popular culture. Perhaps due to the moon-like quality and people’s ability to add life to unprogrammed spaces. Would people fight to keep this place?

Although there is no organized movement to preserve the channels, there are fans. But preserving these channels for their austerity is an inadequate reason. For now, allowing public access is building relationships with the natural and recreational potential of the river.

As interesting the barren channels are, the juxtaposition between wild in an urban setting is much more complex, rewarding, and valuable. The LA river restoration progress would become a part of cinema as well.

%d bloggers like this: