9 Photos You Need to See: Sony's First Photo Essay on the LA River


When we learned that Sony would be sending a world class photographer to capture the LA River as an addition to their 9- month social documentary #FutureofCities we were excited. Carolyn Drake is that photographer and has signed on to do two photo essays about the LA River. Check out her first body of work capturing landscape documentary images shot along the 51-mile channel. 

Photos by Carolyn Drake @DrakeyCake 




The Army Corp of Engineers carried out an ambitious plan to encase the Los Angeles River in concrete after catastrophic floods in the 1930's led to calls for flood control. Except for a few places where the muddy bottom was impossible to replace, the river was turned into a concrete drainage channel. The ecology of the river disappeared, making room for development and a flood-free city.


A film shoot beside the river encasement in downtown LA. 


 As developers catch wind of the city's plans to revitalize the river be creating parks and bike paths along the river, removing much of the concrete encasement, and restoring some of its ecology, neighborhoods like Elysian Valley have begun to see real estate speculation. Working class families that have been rooted in the neighborhood for generations have received offers to sell their homes for well over their market value. As the drought in California carries on, attention on the river has grown.


A woman crosses a bridge over the Los Angeles River downstream of its confluence with the Arroyo Seco.


View of the city from the railroad tracks beside the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles. To the left is the First Street Bridge.


One Sunday morning, a small group of activists brought kayaks and trash bags into one of several soft bottom stretches along the river above the Sepulveda dam and collected trash caught in the trees and rocks.


The Los Angeles River trail, a new bike path running between the residential neighborhood of Elysian Valley and the river near Griffith Park. The vast majority of Los Angeles' rainwater drains into the concrete encasement. Lacking sufficient groundwater for its population, Los Angeles imports its drinking water from the Colorado River through the California Aqueduct. Plans are underway to restore the limited local water source that is the LA River.


A discarded California map found along train tracks next to the Los Angeles river in downtown LA. The river parallels and passes under numerous highways en route to Long Beach, where it spills into the Pacific Ocean.

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