August has been all over the place and there are so many posts that I need to make chronicling some of the adventures that I’ve had, including a three-day trip to San Diego with my family, but let’s start with a few hours that I spent at the recently renovated Echo Park Lake.
Even though I have been working practically next to Echo Park since last November, this was the first time that I have actually decided to visit the lake. I had a few hours to kill between meetings at work so I stopped by Tribal Cafe on Temple to get an amazing roast beef and crispy shallot panini and then continued on to the park to eat lunch lakeside.
After two years of rehabilitation, supported by funding from Proposition O, Echo Park Lake reopened earlier this year with more sustainable features to keep the lake clean and people-friendly. The lake was a man-made creation that was built in the 1860s to act as a reservoir, though the area around the reservoir was further renovated to become a public park in 1892. Fun fact: Echo Park got its name when a landscape architect heard an echo across the arroyo where the park was eventually developed.
I decided to take a walk around the lake after I ate my panini and I learned quite a bit of information through several signboards around the park. Here are some of the ones that I found especially interesting:
- The fountain at the center of the lake was installed for the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic games. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how mega-events helped create new urban structures for the cities that they are hosted in and I got particularly excited when I came across this example.
- The Lady of the Lake statue (aka Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles) was designed by Ada May Sharpless. It stands on the original peninsula that it stood on when it was first erected in 1934.
- Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (no relation to the social networking website), is believed to have planted the first lotuses in the lake in the 1920s, after importing the flowers from China. There are now annual lotus festivals every July to coincide with the blooming of the flowers.
- Okay, so this following fact wasn’t in any of the signboards, but it just had to be mentioned, especially while we are on the topic of the lotuses. A few years ago, the lotuses began to die and disappear from the lake. It appeared that all hope was lost to retrieve the original plants until the landscape architect was tipped off that there was a man living in Reseda who might have offshoots of the original lake lotuses. Apparently, the man had stolen them from the lake and had been growing them in his own greenhouse for years. The city eventually bought several hundred stalks and replanted them in the lake where they seem to be doing well.
- Some of the changes that occurred from the renovation include wetland plants that filter pollutants, drought-tolerant plants that reduce water use, and porous paving that allows storm water to seep through it to reduce runoff.
I really want to go again when the lotus flowers have bloomed, so this is not the last time I’ll ever visit. Considering that I have more time at work for lunch, I might stop by again sooner than I think. Plus, I also want to rent a pedal boat since this is practically the only place I know that have them.
Even though I have never been to the park prior to the renovation, you can tell that a lot of care and effort was put into making the area thrive again. It’s a little oasis in the big city.