Last night at sunset, a host of city and environmental group dignitaries dedicated Confluence Plaza. The crowd of some 75-to-100 people cheered and applauded, as the first jets of water shot from ground level high into the air, to a brass fanfare of “Rigaudon.”
The scene was nothing, if not surreal — and jubilant.
A more unlikely spot for this landmark probably couldn’t be found. To the north lies the netherworld of the Cypress Park Home Depot parking lot, under the I-5 freeway. Day workers milled around, waiting for that last hourly job, items for purchase sat on a blanket in a spontaneous bazaar, and the roar of rush-hour traffic reached shout-out levels.
Yet, the speakers put this latest addition to the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan in perspective.
“It means a connection to the environment,” said Romel Pasqual, L.A.’s deputy mayor for environment, from the podium.
His words echoed those of the previous speaker, City Councilmember Ed P. Reyes., who talked about the meager 55 percent high school graduation rate and the fact that “unfortunately, gangs are winning” our youth, instead of education. According to his Web site, in the past Reyes, vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee, has secured funds for neighborhood clean-ups, gang prevention programs and safe route school maps.
Of course, the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco is city history at its best. The actual spot is covered in concrete, inaccessible except to the hearty. If you look on a map, it’s basically at the intersection where the I-5 and the 110 meet.
“It’s a beachhead,” Jenny Price, who gives well-regarded tours of the river, said of the plaza.
Indeed, it is the first part of the multiphase Confluence Park project.
The river’s poet laureate wrote a piece for the inauguration and one line probably best summed up the event.
“I prophetize our happiness …” Lewis MacAdams intoned from the podium.
Many nodded their heads in agreement.
See you on the river, Jim Burns