south atwater village
This walk features an excellent soft bottom stretch of river, historic bridges, mini-parks, native plantings, and Brett Goldstone’s dramatic Water with Rocks Gate.
Water with Rocks Gate, northwest corner of Fletcher Drive and the LA River
Directions to the start:
Easy access – located across the river from the downstream end of the Glendale Narrows section of the LA River Bikeway.
Take Metro Bus 603 from Pico-Union to Glendale. Get off at Fletcher and Ripple, cross the river.
Exit the Southbound 5 Freeway at Fletcher Drive (there’s no Fletcher exit on the Northbound 5). Go left (north) on Fletcher. Cross the river. Turn left onto Larga Avenue and park. Walk back to the river and the gate is on your right just past the DWP
Alternately, exit the Southbound 2 Freeway at Fletcher (there’s no Fletcher exit on the Northbound 2 either). Go right at the end of the offramp. Turn left onto Larga and park.
Alternately, exit the 2 Freeway at San Fernando Road. Go northwest on San Fernando one block. Turn left onto Fletcher. Turn right onto Larga and park.
Before beginning the walk, take a moment to look behind you at the stonescaped Fletcher Drive Median Islands, created by nonprofit urban forestry group North East Trees (NET). These traffic islands used to be impermeable asphalt, but NET de-paved them and added river rock, native succulents, and a barely visible “river” of broken windshield glass.
Also nearby is the commemorative plaque on the Fletcher Drive Bridge, one of Merrill Butler’s finest. The bridge was completed in 1927, declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #322 in 1987, and seismically retrofitted in 1992. There are two bronze plaques on this part of the bridge – the large original 1927 plaque and a smaller HCM plaque.
Walk through the Water with Rocks Gate, which was created by Sculptor Brett Goldstone. The gate depicts the river waters gradually building, from quiet to high flood stage, flowing into downtown skyscrapers. Surrounding the gate is a North East Trees mini-park planted with native vegetation. Turn left just behind the gate to see another Goldstone piece, a very funky bench made of curved metal and a large boulder.
Walk upstream. Look back to your left to get a long view of the Fletcher Bridge. Proceed along the asphalt access road at the top of the levee. As you walk along the river, you will see two small areas on your right that were planted by NET. The first is called Silver Lake Meadow, the second Petite Meadow (both named after the streets that end into them, both unmarked).
Continue walking upstream. Ahead of you is the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Completed in 1927, it was named the Victory Memorial Bridge, in honor of the veterans of World War I. Merrill Butler called it "an architectural jewel in a landscaped setting."
The sylvan setting has been much degraded by the paving of the river and the onset of the 5 Freeway. Although its original railing has been covered in concrete, the massive bridge with its austere octagonal pylons still looks impressive. In 1976 it was designated LA’s Historic-Cultural Monument #164.
There are empty platforms at the downstream end of the bridge’s piers. These platforms historically supported the Red Car commuter rail line. The trains are gone, but the Friends of Atwater Village has commemorated them with a mural on the piers.
On your right is another NET mini-park, now known as the Red Car River Park. The small park features native trees, a seating wall and circle stage made of broken concrete.
Turn back and retrace your steps to the start of the walk.
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