A self guided (walking/biking) tourHover your mouse over the map to compare the contemporary streets we know to the three streams that once collected the water of Northeast Los Angeles:
> Eagle Rock Creek, whose waters sink into the Eagle Rock basin and then...
> ...re-emerge aboveground at the location of Sparkletts (Cienega del Garvanza);
> the North Branch of the Arroyo Seco, which drains the eastern half of the York Valley
The contemporary street map shows how numerous underground storm drains (in dark purple) are now necessary to intercept the same rainwater that once fed those streams. Water flows about ten times faster over paved surfaces than over vegetated surfaces. When rains falls on urban landscapes, rainwater is conveyed over pavement to the lowest points in the landscape. On its journey, it collects into surface rivulets, and whereever it might pool too deeply, it is drained via underground pipes to the ocean. Developed landscapes have many drainages because rainwater is prevented by pavement and concrete channels from soaking into the ground. (Example: the Arroyo Seco, whose waters used to sink into the ground appears today, because of channelization, to be perennial surface water.) Natural streams, however, are only replenished by rainwater that has made it deep into the ground. To bring back our natural streams, we would need to unpave our cities, replacing impermeable surfaces with surfaces that rain can pass through.
Each point on the map below corresponds to a story told on this website. Enjoy this map as a self-guided tour through time and space, and please stay tuned for an interactive live map...
1888 water courses as mapped by State Engineer William Hammond Hall. Current street, stormdrain, and topographical data from Bureau of Engineering ca. 2003.