|Many, many years ago, before the advent of railroads and the spread of housing and industry, the Los Angeles river ran 52 miles long and was untamed, without freeways or cities. After 1870, industry began to spread near the river. Unfortunately, in the early 1900s, two separate floods caused a great deal of damage and even several deaths to the neighboring cities. The Los Angeles river, deemed a hazard, was built over, paved away with concrete, to eventually cover an area that would include the 110, the 710, and the 5 freeways. Hidden from view, the river itself was rarely mentioned and became a sealed off area of land, not open to the public.|
In 1986, the Friend of the Los Angeles River was formed and began working towards renovating this large landscape of Los Angeles. Their first actócutting a hole in the fence and opening the river to the public. The entirety of the river was not opened, however, and much of it still remains hidden.
Now, the most neglected portionóthe Union Pacific Railroad's Piggyback Yard, totaling 125 acresóis becoming the largest concern for FORLA. The proposed idea is to turn the forgotten Piggyback Yard into a public park and water detention center. The river floods naturally each year, and the new plan takes this into consideration. The yard would operate as a flood detention area during the moments in the year in which the river overflows. However, during all other parts of the year, the yard would be a public park with large, open gathering spaces. The plan also allows for new development around the yard itself. Mission Road will hopefully turn into a main street with retail, residential and office space appearing on the south side of the site. North of the site would Brewery-Arts Colony Arts Center, complete with studios, exhibits and courtyards.
A team has already formed, including Michael Maltzan Architecture, Perkins + Will, Chee Salette Architecture Office, and landscape architect Mia Lehrer.