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Sharing Memories of the L.A. River

November 28, 1985

I've been following Dick Roraback's articles on the Los Angeles River with pleasure, but I have a problem with the gently mocking tone of them. I don't feel that he's begun to come to grips with why the Los Angeles River is encased in ugliness and how it can be changed.

The Friends of the Los Angeles River is a very young, very recently formed organization--only a few people, really--whose goal is to bring the Los Angeles River, especially in the downtown area, back to life. (We define downtown here as the river from the Golden State Freeway and the Glendale Narrows to Interstate 10.) Many different organizations and individuals are beginning to realize what cities like San Antonio and Minneapolis and Providence and St. Louis have already discovered--that the river through their town doesn't have to be treated like a sewer.

Are you aware of the graduate class in architecture at UCLA that is doing designs for a river-front park? Or of Helen and Newton Harrison's work on the Arroyo Seco? Or that the Army Corps of Engineers has begun new studies on the Los Angeles, and the only input that they're getting from the city is from Public Works on ways to make the river even more of a sewer?

As the founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River, I would love to take a walk with Roraback along the river's downtown miles, especially in the area around the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles. Do you know the Los Angeles River's totem? I can't draw it, but it's made up--in ascending order--of a frog, snake, brown bear, sycamore tree and hawk.

LEWIS MacADAMS

Los Angeles

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