Hollywood directors love featuring the concrete flanks and classic engineering form of the LA Flood Control Channel when a riveting car chase is necessary with Los Angeles as the back drop. It has been featured in movie blockbusters such as Grease (recall the climatic racing scene; Sandy, Olivia Newton-John, watching realizing a change in character is needed to hook gang member Danny, John Travolta), Gone in 60 Seconds (again, climatic scene with riveting car chase; Nicolas Cage driving the sweet '67 Ford Shelby nicknamed Eleanor to complete the job bestowed upon him to save his brother), Terminator 2, To Live and Die and LA, Gumball Rally, and even Madonna's 1984 Borderline video - an impressive lengthy list of Hollywood screen writers, producers, and directors compelled to include this historic work of engineering as part of their drama.
Originally part of the Los Angeles River, the 80-year-old, 51-mile concrete channel was built by the Army Corp of Engineers to alleviate the region of dangerous and costly seasonal flooding. Dry most of the year, the concrete channel provides a relatively, isolated haven, for filming high speed car chases, romantic scenes, and gang scuffles. However, since the gradual but inevitable decay of the channel, as well as the mass exodus of Hollywood producers to less expensive movie locals, as filming in L.A. has become a financial burden, plans were subsequently made to raze (demolish) the famed flood control structure in favor of restoring the waterway to a more natural state with reclamation of water lost to the Pacific Ocean.
The non-profit group, LA River Revitalization Corporation, will team with award winning architect, Frank Gehry (designer of the Guggenheim Museum in Spain), to restore the concrete channel to an ecologically friendly river. The project is estimated to cost 100 million dollars per mile and will include production of recreational trails and parks for public use. Plans are also underway to reclaim some of the precious water lost to the Pacific Ocean. Opponents of the restoration project fear that Gehry, who is not an LA native, is not in touch with the LA community some of whom may wish for preservation of the concrete channel due to its famous cinematic history. But it appears to be inevitable that plans to restore the river will move forward, and Hollywood will have to find a new location to film its car chases.