Like a Hollywood cliche, the River went under the knife during the 1940s and emerged completely changed. No longer a meandering desert stream, the LA River is now a straightened, paved trench. It's visible in the present-day aerial view below, following roughly the same course as before:
The paving project followed a large 1938 flood, which itself was partly the result of burgeoning development in the river's watershed. The straightened, paved channel was meant to deliver floodwaters as quickly as possible to the ocean. But most of the time, the river flows as a mere trickle through a wide concrete plain, which makes the renovated River an irresistible playground for movie car chases. The LA River has played a supporting role as a racetrack in Repo Man, Grease, Terminator 2, and many other movies.
Look familiar? Photo by OPHOTN
The manifest destiny of the LA River may end up looking less like a post-apocalyptic movie set and more like its frontier condition.