Photo credit: Gary Leonard
LA River School

Frogtown Artwalk in the Los Angeles River

Elysian Valley is a neighborhood right behind Dodger Stadium with a community of its own including life around the Los Angeles River.

The river has become a piece of nature to those around Elysian Valley. You can hear the L.A. River water flow and watch the water run at its fast speed. Trees move when windy season is at its highest and the river rises at a high level when it is raining. It has areas that are steep and slippery there are other areas where you can put your hand in.

But it’s also an imaginable place where city living and nature meet.

The noise of cars rushing through the freeway competes with the water running; kids interact and feed bread to the ducks as if they were at the zoo; the ducks’ quacking noise is familiar to neighbors, including when they fly over roofs from nearby homes; fish living in the depths of the water, fishers taking the opportunity to spend a family afternoon fishing; train tracks clicking, running along the other side of the trees from the river.

“I remember the Los Angeles River being a place I never went to visit,” said David de la Torre, who has lived in Elysian Valley for 39 years.

He was undrawn from the Los Angeles River because he said it was uninviting and dangerous. Families were worried for their kids exploring a different environment. When de la Torre was growing up, it was “almost not permitted for us to venture down seen unsafe by our parents,” he said.

Another issue of the river has been its bike path. Some bicyclists are taking advantage of the path and go at full speed, sometimes causing injuries. One of de la Torre’s neighbors was struck by a speeding cyclist and had to take therapy. She “almost lost her life on the path,” he said.

And at times, tragedy has struck worse.

Two youths recently drowned in the river’s fast-running water while hanging behind Sonia Sotomayor High School, according to the LA Times.

Changes have been made and will continue to throughout the years. The river has a length that streams from the city’s beginning with the roots of Calabasas, Burbank Studios, Glendale Narrows, Frogtown (Elysian Valley), making its way down to Long Beach.

Frogtown, which is another name that has been used for the Elysian Valley community, is being looked to refine the space with money and business.

Kevin de Leon who is Senate President pro Tempore, announced $100 million in funding for the L.A. River community. The money will be used for changes such as new parks in the area of the river and to unite the communities that are around the river.

But the imputation of the river being disordered and the possibly “dangerous” place is gradually changing.

Instead of waste, art is protruding. An artwalk is engaging a new and usual visitors in the Los Angeles River.

“The Frogtown Artwalk started in a way to bring artists and the residents in the neighborhood together,” said Tracy Stone, president of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective.

The nonprofit organization funds and organizes the Frogtown Artwalk. The walk began in 2006, and the tenth annual art walk was celebrated in 2016.

Frogtown Arts, which comes from the branch of Elysian Valley Collective, offers free youth art courses for students between 7 and 18 years old. Artists around the neighborhood are the classes’ instructors.

“Art opened up doors to become interested in art and expose youth in the neighborhood to art,” Stone said.

As more money is being put into the Los Angeles River, and art keeps getting introduced into the community, more people are coming in and making the community different and changing it. Now the question is, will it be the next gentrified area in Los Angeles? We’ll let the river run its course.

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