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SAVE THE ZANJA MADRE AT THE LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK

NEWSLETTER SPRING 2005

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When the Zanja Madre or “Mother Trench” that runs through the site of the Los Angeles State Historic Park (the Cornfield) was unearthed and threatened with destruction in March 2005 as a result of construction by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the California Department of Parks and Recreation immediately asked The City Project to help save the Zanja. Working with Councilmember Ed Reyes, the Los Angeles Conservancy, and documents we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Records Act, The City Project negotiated with MTA to preserve the Zanja that first brought water from the Los Angeles River to El Pueblo de Los Angeles from 1781 to 1913. We continue to work together to determine the optimal way to preserve, interpret, and celebrate this historical icon.

MTA archeologists are preparing a report to determine how best to accomplish these goals. The MTA’s letter to The City Project states that the Zanja will be accessible for public viewing, an archeologist will be on site for the duration of any further construction, and MTA will work with stakeholders to determine the best way to preserve the Zanja.

The City Project will continue to work with State Parks and Recreation, MTA, public officials, and other stakeholders to serve the needs of the community as defined by the community, and to celebrate the struggles, hopes, and triumphs of generations of Angelenos who entered Los Angeles through the Cornfield and El Pueblo. The City Project saved Watts Towers, an icon of public art, and is committed to public art in the public park at the Los Angeles State Historic Park.