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Articles by Laura Bliss

Laura Bliss is a staff writer at CityLab. She writes about public utilities, education, and cartography, among other topics.

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This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Los Angeles River only intermittently resembles an actual river, even though that’s what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers entombed in concrete in the 1930s. Since then, its 51-mile course has been a trickling flood channel, the scene of countless movie car chases, and a punchline about how artificial L.A. can seem.

Now the river is coming back to life. A massive restoration scheme will peel away its hard gray sheath to create a living riverbank along an 11-mile stretch, flanked by walking and biking trails, cafes and river-centric activities, and lots of green space. L.A. is very much on course to build its answer to New York City’s High Line.

But that is a loaded comparison in urban redevelopment. The transformation of a disused elevated-rail segment into one of Manhattan’s most magnetic tourist destinations — and the blueprint for “adaptive reuse” infrastructure projects around the globe — has become a lofty symbol of the ills of gentrification. Although the once-industrial neighborhood of Chelsea was already shifting to higher rents and ups... Read more

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