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Chinatown Median Dedicated as Pocket Park

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, June 13, 2008, at 09:42AM
the jig Ed Fuentes

John Fisher, with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, takes a few dance steps ahead of the pack.

One of the last city intersections be signalized for pedestrians and traffic is now home to a new pocket park. It's located across from the California Endowment, Engine Company Number 4, and Phillipe’s restaurant, and yesterday's dedication was celebration enough for city officials to dance a jig.

For decades, the intersection at Alameda Street and North Main was home to unused railroad tracks surrounded by asphalt, isolated from improvements and left to fend for itself. Yesterday, Councilmember Ed Reyes dedicated the space as a triangle pocket park, offering an entrance into Downtown, Chinatown, and Union Station.

“We need to treat areas like this as a front yard, not a back yard.” said Reyes, surrounded by engineers, kids from Clean and Green, and staff from the nearby Homeboy Industries. A mix of newly installed historic-style city lamps blends in with modern lighting. In the middle of the triangle is a circular walkway, completed by a set of Magnolia trees, making a total of 61 trees now around Main and Alameda.

Earmarked since 2002, the 2 years of construction included realigning streets, making a confusing Alhambra street into a distinct right of way to Alameda from southbound North Main.

The construction process gave evidence to the intersection's age. When layers of asphalt were removed, old brick street pavers were uncovered. Some of those bricks are now in use in the pathway.

When new basins that connect to 450-foot long, 24-inch storm drain were under construction, the original waterline for the area was uncovered. “We knew it was somewhere,” said Kevin Martin, a Construction Inspector with the City of L.A. “As soon as we saw the circular brick tunnel, we knew what is was.” That line delivered water from the Los Angeles River to the original reservoir that was once located in the middle of El Pueblo.

It’s that proximity to the river that leads Reyes to consider this pocket park part of a series of footprints to the Los Angeles River.

PREVIOUSLY: Chinatown Median Gets Its Landscaping Touch

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