We all know what it is, where it is and most of us even know what it does. It’s in the background of our city, but in many ways it’s the heart of LA. It flows through our communities and to the ocean we all enjoy and love. It’s none other than the Los Angeles River.

So what do we really know about the river aside from it being a concrete channel leading runoff to the ocean? Below is a handful of fun and interesting tidbits we thought you’d enjoy.

1. The Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe first inhabited the area near the river. They did so for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Gabrielino villages numbered over 45 and were located near the Los Angeles River, mostly in the San Fernando Valley.(1)

2. The LA River was at one time our city’s sole water supply.(2)

3. The LA River is the longest paved waterway in the world, running 51 miles out of the San Gabriel Mountains, through municipal jurisdictions (which includes 16 cities), and then flows into Long Beach Harbor. Click here to read about why impermeable surfaces are bad news for water quality.(3)

4. There are more than 120 crossings along the LA River’s entire reach.(4)

5. In 2008, the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) documented eight types of fish living within the river: largemouth bass, green sunfish, tilapia, black bullhead, Amazon sailfish catfish, carp, fathead minnow and mosquitofish. Read our interview with FOLAR’s President, Shelly Backlar.(5)

What has been your experience with the LA River? Non-existent? Fond? Mixed? Let us know by scribbling your thoughts below and sharing your pics on our Facebook page.

(1) McCawley, William. 1996. The First Angelinos: The Gabrielino Indians of Los Angeles. Malki Museum Press, Banning, California. ISBN 0-9651016-1-4
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_River
(3) “Long Beach Shore: The LA River’s Dumping Ground”, Keith Higginbotham, Long Beach Post, May, 27, 2010
(4) Federal Highway Administration 2009 National Bridge Inventory (NBI)
(5) “2008 Los Angeles River Fish Study“. Friends of the Los Angeles River. www.folar.org.

*Photo courtesy of Sunset.com