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The Los Angeles River Once Met the Sea at Marina del Rey

Looking South Toward Mouth of Los Angeles River in Long Beach

Just north of the mouth of the Los Angeles River, looking downstream from the Ocean Boulevard Bridge in Long Beach. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.

For much of its history, the Los Angeles Basin was mostly a vast wetland with islands of forested land and dense shrub. The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers watered the basin, with most of their water sinking into the soil before reaching the coast.

Periodically, heavy rain caused the Los Angeles River to flow hard and fast enough to push its way into Santa Monica Bay, at what is now Marina del Rey. This dramatically changed in 1825, when an epic flood from Big Tujunga Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains instead forced the Los Angeles River towards San Pedro Bay, at what is now Long Beach today. The river has emptied to the sea there ever since.

See Rivers of Los Angeles County

In 1938, in response to devastating floods early in that year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began lining the Los Angeles River in concrete, in order to control flooding and channel the river in a predictable (although not natural) path.

Concrete Channeling of Los Angeles River

Example of the concrete channeling of the Los Angeles River. Photo by MintChipDesigns via Pixabay.com.