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ELYSIAN LINKAGES INDEX

Although Elysian Park wasn't a park until the late 19th century, it has always stood out in the Los Angeles basin  with it's ravines and rolling hills: attractive yet vulnerable.

 

The champions of Elysian Park are the men and women who have discovered, nurtured and stood up for the park, protecting it from the eroding forces it has faced, whether natural or man-made, throughout the centuries.

Historic Topography: Stone Quarry Hills (1868)

The construction of Academy Road sliced through the areas of Cemetary and Sulphur Ravines. Meanwhile, Stadium Way bifurcated the perimeter Portola Trail. As a result, the old ravines lie mangled in the Parks Contemporary form, as a result of the massive earthworks and landfill efforts in the past.

Historic Topography: Reserved Public Land (1884)

Before the 20th century, Elysian Park stood out as a natural piece of californian hillside with all of its ridges and ravines. Although many replanting efforts were made towards the end of the 1800’s the elevation was still more or less kept as the Maawgna natives knew it.

 

Later on the ravines were exploited, consumed if you will, by urbanizing efforts: One became a new reservoir, another one a landfill and and the remaining two got used as a police academy and an expressway.

 

 

Historic Topography: Elysian Park (1894)

Riverside Drive before the I-5 freeway had a retail strip lining the river side of the street, that served the Elysian Valley neighborhood. There was a butcher shop, a bakery, a market, cobblers and other tradesman. It was easy to walk across from the neighborhood up into Elysian Park.

 

The neighborhood-serving commercial land uses were not replaced, and Elysian Valley to this day has virtually no neighborhood-serving retail, forcing residents to travel elsewhere for essential goods and services.

Historic Topography: The Lost Commercial Strip of Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive before the I-5 freeway had a retail strip lining the river side of the street, that served the Elysian Valley neighborhood. There was a butcher shop, a bakery, a market, cobblers and other tradesman. It was easy to walk across from the neighborhood up into Elysian Park.

 

The neighborhood-serving commercial land uses were not replaced, and Elysian Valley to this day has virtually no neighborhood-serving retail, forcing residents to travel elsewhere for essential goods and services.

Historic Topography: Elysian Park and Chavez Ravine (1928)

The tracts around the park was increasingly developed as the 20th came around and the designated park got a real chance to show it’s worth in the face of a densifying Los Angeles core. While Echo Park and Angeleno Heights became developed by prominent homes, he hills in the middle of the horseshoe shape attracted a growing community of working class latinos, seeking a refuge from the discrimination that happened in most of the city at the time.

 

Interestingly, a ”Southward Grand View” peak was preserved, left free of development, up until it was obliterated by the Dodger stadium earthworks in the 1960’s.

Historic Topography: Chavez Ravine Settlements

Chavez Ravine neighborhood was taken by the City of Los Angeles via emminent domain in the 1950’s. All the residents were vacated and all buildings destroyed in order to build public affordable housing.  Many of the roads in Chavez Ravine were never ‘improved’ – they were merely dirt paths following the elevation of the ravines.

Landgrabs and Deletions

Elysian Park has been picked away and divided by DWP, CalTrans, LA City Department of Public Works, the Dodgers and LAPD. CalTrans & LA City’s roads have cut deep gashes into the landscape and divided the park into disparate pieces. Encouragingly, in 2011 the park has grown with the annex park area along Riverside Drive – a key extension toward the Elysian Valley.

Historic Sites Today

In Elysian Park, many historic features hidden in plain sight. The park tells the the story of Los Angeles’ birth, rapid growth and ambition while revealing some of the underlying mechanics that still govern the city to this day. There are rich opportunities for shedding light on the past and improve this hidden dimension of the park.