Throughout 2021-22, California State Parks and Clockshop held a community listening process to hear directly from residents about their wants, needs, and questions about the future State Park at the Bowtie. We received input from over 2000 community members, which guided the concept design for the Bowtie. This overwhelming community support and feedback was an essential tool for State Parks to continue to move the Bowtie forward, advocating for the resources needed to make this park a reality.
In May of 2022, the Bowtie Park project was awarded a $5 million grant through the federal Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program of the Department of the Interior, which is the maximum amount any park could have gotten. Clockshop’s artistic programming and community engagement work at the Bowtie was a huge part of the application’s success, which had to demonstrate events, ongoing programs, a significant audience, and community involvement with the land. This will mean that the park could begin construction as early as the beginning of 2023, and become a new State Park for our Northeast LA communities.
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The Bowtie Conceptual Design
At the culmination of our community listening process, the Bowtie Design Team (SALT and RADAR) presented the conceptual design for the future park on March 5, 2022. The Bowtie’s design prioritizes the restoration of native habitat, walking paths, views of the river, spaces for informal gathering, a nature discovery area for children, connectivity to the Paseo del Río and the future city park at G2, and a nature-based experience along the LA River that will be accessible to all.
Bowtie Youth Council
Throughout the community listening process, Clockshop partnered with local youth ambassadors to engage students and their families in envisioning the future of the Bowtie. A council of 10 residents ages 14-22 supported outreach efforts in the northeast Los Angeles communities that neighbor the Bowtie. After a year of community engagement around the Bowtie, the BYC presented their findings and a list of demands to California State Parks. California State Parks responded with a list of commitments in response.
History of the Bowtie
The Bowtie is currently 18 acres of undeveloped industrial land along the Los Angeles River in the city’s northeast, which will one day be restored into vibrant greenspace that will bring back native wildlife and plants. The bowtie-shaped parcel is already a popular community space where local residents can roam freely to seek respite from everyday urban life.
The Bowtie sits within Taylor Yard, the former headquarters of Southern Pacific Railroad that was once a bustling railyard and major local employer. After rail operations shut down, local community residents advocated for a vision to revitalize 100 acres of the area into park space. In 2003, the California State Parks Department bought the Bowtie property to preserve the land for nature conservation and support efforts to restore the Los Angeles River. When complete, the Bowtie will be part of neighboring Rio de Los Angeles State. This area of the Los Angeles River is an important part of the river’s ecosystem, one of the only places where the river has a “soft bottom,” meaning it does not have a concrete bed and is still in its natural state.
This timeline is adapted from Noemi Despland-Lichtert’s “Parcel G” research presentation. Additional information was provided by California State Parks.
PRE-1700s: The Tongva occupy the region for centuries.
1769: Portola Expedition records first written words about Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles River.
1771: San Gabriel Mission is completed.
1781: El Pueblo de Los Angeles established. Settlers build a willow pole dam across the Los Angeles River.
1784: 36,000-acre land grant made to Jose Maria Verdugo, includes area that becomes Taylor Yard.
1835: Secularization of missions brings first great land rush to split lands into individual rancho grants.
1847: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed and the Mexican-American War ends. California is ceded over to the United States and S. C. Foster is appointed mayor of Los Angeles.
1870s: Residential development spreads out from downtown Los Angeles due to expansion of railroads and Silver Lake Dam.
1876: Southern Pacific Railroad line is completed.
1877: Taylor family settles on east bank of Los Angeles River and begins selling farming surplus.
1881: Land where Taylor Yard is located is subdivided and used for agriculture and housing. Taylor family opens general store and milling company at Taylor Yard.
1908: Company and land become known as “Taylor Yard.”
1913: Water from the Owens River is diverted to Los Angeles.
1920s: Taylor Yard undergoes major development, including the South Turntable and machine shops.
1925: Taylor Yard becomes a major rail yard facility.
1938: Los Angeles River floods during a four-day storm. In response, Los Angeles River is channelized in concrete, resulting in fixed course.
1949: Taylor Yard diesel shops built along river to service Southern Pacific’s growing fleet of diesel powered engines.
1960: Southern Pacific Railroad reroutes trains to the Cajon Pass instead of through Los Angeles.
1985: Taylor Yard closes its long-standing purpose as a freight switching facility.
1992: Parcel B developed as Metrolink maintenance facility. Intensive public outreach about the future of Taylor Yard is conducted. The first Taylor Yard Area Planning and Urban Design Workshop is held.
1992-93: Several studies are completed such as: Multi-Use Study on the Los Angeles River at Taylor Yard prepared for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works; Taylor Yard Development Study prepared for the Los Angeles County MTA; and the Taylor Yard Planning and Urban Design Workshop prepared by the American Institute of Architects.
1997: Over half of the rail is vacated, resulting in development of the FedEx facility on Parcel E.
1998: Legacy Partners proposes a 49-acre business park at the northern end of Taylor Yard. No master plan was ever implemented, and the property was sold piecemeal. River Through Downtown Conference produces a mixed-use plan for the site.
2000: Parcel D is proposed for warehouse development. Community opposed development and ‘Coalition for a State Park at Taylor Yard’ is formed, led by The River Project. Proposition 12, the Statewide Park Bond bill, is passed. Governor Gray Davis approves $45 million to acquire Taylor Yard as a state park.
2001: State acquires Parcel D for State Park development.
2002: The California Coastal Conservancy completes a feasibility study on the opportunities and potential uses at Taylor Yard’s Parcel G-2.
2003: State acquires an additional 18 acres at Parcel G-1.
2014: California State Parks and Clockshop partner to activate Parcel G-1 with art and cultural programming and name it The Bowtie Project.
2019: Governor Gavin Newsom approves California state budget that includes $500K for an initial design proposal for the new State Park at Parcel G-1.
2019: The City of Los Angeles, California State Parks, and The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) sign a Letter of Intent to form the “100-Acre Partnership at Taylor Yard” (Partnership)
April 24, 2020: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and California State Parks sign an agreement to collaborate on a 2.5-acre Bowtie Demonstration Project