1. The Wetlands
Four acres of new wetlands—planted with freshwater marshland vegetation—do more than beautify the lakeshore. They also regulate water quality, filtering pollutants carried in by storm runoff.
2. The Boathouse
In Chinatown Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes sneaks photos of Hollis Mulwray from inside an Echo Park rowboat. Those vintage vessels are long gone, but foot-powered paddleboats can be rented from the fleet at this Spanish colonial revival house.
3. The Dam (buried)
Before this lake, there was Arroyo de Los Reyes, a watercourse that flowed toward what is now downtown L.A. In 1868, a 20-foot dam was built here and transformed the stream’s ravine into a reservoir. It became a recreational lake in the 1890s.
4. The Water
Originally constructed as a drinking water reservoir, the lake today functions as a 26-million-gallon detention basin in L.A.’s vast flood control system. Runoff from streets and storm drains pauses here before heading into the Los Angeles River and, ultimately, the ocean. In dry weather about 110,000 gallons pass through the lake each day.
5. The Wildlife
The lake attracts a loyal cadre of resident and migratory waterfowl. Beneath the surface swim channel catfish, stocked regularly by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
6. The Lotus Beds
Thanks to a revamped water garden, the famous lotus beds that mysteriously waned a few years ago (perhaps as the result of pollution) are expected to bloom again. The annual Lotus Festival returns in summer 2014.
7. The Berm
A submerged shelf divides the lake into two basins, relieving pressure on the aging dam at the park’s south end. A notch in the middle of the berm allows water to pass from one basin to the other.