Los Angeles, CA

Paved in Cement, the L.A. River Is Still an Oasis in Frogtown

Elle Silver

In Frogtown, the L.A. River is lusher than anywhere else along its path through Los Angeles. I recommend sitting beside it while enjoying a weekend coffee in Frogtown. Yes, even though the banks are paved in cement.

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Los Angeles River in FrogtownSource: xplorela.com

On a recent Saturday morning, I enjoyed a macchiato from La Colombe Cafe and Roastery in Frogtown while also being treated to a verdant view of the L.A. River. I listened to the burbling of running water while watching a heron walk over the rocks.

Such a sight isn't always so easy to find in L.A. If you're walking the trails through Elysian Park, you can catch a glimpse of Frogtown (also known as Elysian Valley), but mostly you'll just see industrial lots and railroad tracks. Of course, you'll also see the 5 Freeway.

But even while hiking in Elysian Park, the scene is dusty. Dry grasses on the hillsides look like they could burst into flame with the slightest spark.

But right outside La Colombe Cafe and Roastery in Frogtown, you're guaranteed a different kind of view.

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Another part of the L.A. River in FrogtownCredit: author

Along this part of the river, there are many birds and trees. Sure, if you look between the trees, you'll notice the cement channel.

Still, the L.A. River is lusher here than anywhere else along its path through Los Angeles. It's a pleasant place to enjoy a morning coffee, especially on the weekend.

Years ago, the city channelized the Los Angeles River.

The L.A. River used to flow freely from where it originates, in the Santa Susana Hills. The river spans nearly fifty-one miles in length as it makes its way through the San Fernando Valley, into Los Angeles, finally ending in Long Beach.

However, the river was prone to flooding. It flooded so badly in 1938 that the city decided to pave the river's bed and banks in concrete.

Now it looks like this.

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The channelized L.A. River in DTLACredit: zaptapper

The channelizing of the Los Angeles River might have helped with flooding, but no one can deny that it made it very ugly. What might have continued to be a source of natural beauty in this city became an image of urban blight in too many parts of L.A.

The L.A. River is ugly in many parts of Los Angeles.

Take the view of the river from the Fourth Street Bridge in Downtown L.A. Where the cement around the river isn't sullied by graffiti, it's surrounded by industry. You can't deny you're smack dab in a concrete jungle.

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L.A. River under 4th Street Bridge in DTLACredit: zaptapper

However, you get a different glimpse of the L.A. River in Frogtown. In my case, after purchasing a coffee at La Colombe Cafe and Roastery, I sat on the riverbank and didn't care that it's paved in cement. I still absorbed the cool breeze off the water while watching the ducks and herons in the river.

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The paved bank of the L.A. River in FrogtownCredit: author

I found a little piece of natural tranquility beside the L.A. River in Frogtown. You can, too.

La Colombe Cafe and Roastery

2828 Newell Street, Suite 4

Los Angeles, CA 90039

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Journalist and relationships expert. I write about Los Angeles as well as about dating, divorce, and family.

Los Angeles, CA
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