Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ballona Lagoon and Grand Canal

The signs describing the Ballona Lagoon are a bit ragged--ok, trashed--but it's still an oasis hinting at the olde days in the midst of constant construction. Take out the buildings (which I would have done, if I still owned a copy of Photoshop) (or, come to think of it, if I were God), and most of the area used to look like this.

Then Abbot Kinney came along, bless his heart. I'm not being sarcastic. Let's face it, someone was bound to develop the real estate as a playground, and at least Abbot Kinney had a kooky vision in mind. Venice of the Pacific. He put in the canals that still stand (and some that have vanished).

These pictures were taken on Labor Day Weekend, 2009, at low tide. Which means, around 5 or 6 in the afternoon, because the moon had been full, or just past full, the night before. This shot is looking north from the Lagoon along the Grand Canal, ultimately to Washington Blvd. Via Dolce is the next street to the right.

All these photos should become huge if you click on them.

While looking for Historical Facts to pad this entry (I really just wanted to post my own photos) I learned that the lagoon is where two creeks--Centinela and Ballona--once emptied into the Pacific, and that people have been camping around here for at least 8,000 years. From what I hear, it's still possible to catch halibut near shore.

These drawings show the place about 2000 years ago (a best scientific guess) and in 1861. They are brazenly copied from the site of Statistical Research, Inc. a company contracted by developers to provide "cultural research management."

From reading their website (which has lots of interesting historical information), I gather that they somehow protect the archaeological sites in the Ballona Wetlands, as well as the buildings from the days when Howard Hughes had his aircraft business here.

Hmmm. I really should be doing other work, but this is more fun. For those interested, here's a link to a 1996 story in the Los Angeles Times about the problems facing the Ballona wetlands thirteen years ago--garbage, eroded banks along the canals, etc. Most of those problems have been addressed.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it awarded a $15,000 Five-Star grant for the restoration of this area. That's not that much, but other agencies--such as Heal the Bay, the Coastal Conservancy, and the City of Los Angeles Public Works--are also on board with funding. The project began years ago.

This is another shot of the canal looking north. I can point you to more pictures and text on the Adventures in La-la-land blog. The really gorgeous photos are here at California Photo Net.

There are at least 60 species of water fowl that use this are. Besides the ducks that cruise the canals, I saw this great egret. I think. Great Egret is the name, not just me resorting to my favorite adjective. Snowy egrets have black beaks.

Birdwatching is one of the things I've always wished I had time for. Seriously. He's almost lost in this picture, but isn't he a remarkable creature?

1 comment:

True_Faux said...

The Ballona Wetlands used to stretch from Venice on the north to the PLaya del Rey bluffs on the south, and east at least as far as Centinela, although the larger colex of swamps, marshes and fens extended as far as La Cienega ("The Swamp" in Spanish).

The existing Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey are the last remaining coastal wetland in Los Angeles County, degraded, but saved and awaiting full-scale restoration.

More history at (