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If Not a Ballpark, Chavez Ravine Could Have Held a Lake

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at 09:52AM
Rendering of Lake at Chavez Ravine Artist: Don May / USC Digital Archives [digarc.usc.edu]

This rendering shows a lake proposed for Chavez Ravine had courts ruled against the City's deal with the Dodgers in 1958.

Even as the Dodgers played their first season in Los Angeles in 1958, a trio of lawsuits challenged the city's deal to give the team 315 acres in Chavez Ravine. Obviously, the courts ruled in favor of the Dodger deal. But if they hadn't, what then?

In October of 1958, Assemblyman Don Anderson appeared before City Council to propose a lake.

The city had taken the land earlier for a public housing project, and the suits challenged whether the Dodger deal violated the provision in the eminent domain rules that the land be used for "public purposes." On June 6, 1958, Pasadena Superior Judge Kenneth C. Newell issued a preliminary injunction blocking the sale. In July, another Superior Court judge invalidated several provisions of the contract, throwing the deal into doubt.

The uncertainty led Anderson to appear before Council to propose a lake and recreational area for the ravine. "I feel it imperative that some alternative plan be held in readiness," he told the Los Angeles Times. He presented the above rendering, telling Council that the lake could be used for water sports.

On January 13, 1959, though, the state Supreme Court approved the Chavez Ravine deal, allowing the sale to continue and putting an end to Anderson's lake proposal.

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