Arroyo Seco Flood Control – Pasadena CA


The WPA was extensively involved in flood control construction in Arroyo Seco during the 1930s. Excerpts of WPA involvement in that history follow:

1934-35: Trapezoidal channel is constructed in the Central Arroyo from Devils Gate Dam through the Rose Bowl area to Holly Street with a soft bottom as part of a CWA, SERA, WPA project.

1935: The Works Progress Administration takes over the gravel operation in LA, designating it as a flood control project sponsored by the city of Los Angeles. Trapezoidal cross-section construction chosen since it minimized steel and lumber and maximized hand labor, satisfying requirements of relief funding.

1935-40: The Works Progress Administration undertakes channelization of the Arroyo Seco in Los Angeles as part of construction of Arroyo Seco Parkway. Final stretch between Avenue 22 and Avenue 40 is completed in late 1940. Total cost of the Federal Relief Labor project was about $7,000,000, procured by Los Angeles City Engineer Lloyd Aldrich.

1938: In Pasadena 2.5 miles channel is built from 1938 to 1940 as a WPA project, sponsored by the city of Pasadena, the stated of California and the Flood Control District at a cost of 1,142,500.

For a full timeline see

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

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Location Info

Arroyo Seco
Pasadena, CA 91030

Location notes:
"The Arroyo Seco, Spanish for dry gulch, refers to both the stream course and the canyon that spans eight miles through the western portion of the City of Pasadena. Surrounded by urban development, the Arroyo Seco supports thriving natural ecosystems that include several native plant communities and provides shelter, food and nesting sites for hundreds of wildlife species. Efforts are underway by the city and local community organizations to protect, enhance and restore these ecosystems. Affectionately known to locals as simply the Arroyo, the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena is protected parkland and open space with 22 miles of trails and myriad recreational opportunities. The Arroyo Seco was recently included in the National Register of Historic Places, placing it among the nations top cultural resources." -

Coordinates: 34.131952, -118.163683

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