Water wheel may once again spin over L.A. River

Image from L.A. River Cooperation Committee

Artist and Annenberg heiress Lauren Bon tonight will present her plans to build a 60-foot high water wheel that would scoop up water from the Los Angeles River across from Lincoln Heights. The water wheel, named “La Noria,” would serve as a functional piece of art that would be installed on the south side of the North Broadway Bridge near Bon’s Metabolic Studio. Water drawn and then filtered from the river would help irrigate the nearbyLos Angeles State Historic Park north of Chinatown.

Bon’s water wheel would rise in about the same area where a wooden water wheel once spun more than a century ago (it’s not exactly clear if the old wheel rose next to the L.A. River or on a nearby stream, according to a UCLA study). “Stylistically, the Water Wheel will be modeled after its predecessor from the 1860’s to evoke a sense of the history from this site,” according to a description of the project provided to the L.A. River Cooperating Committee.

A post on L.A. County Supervisor’s Zev Yaroslavsky blog said the project would cost “several million dollars” and must be reviewed by numerous agencies. But Bon, grand daughter of Water Annenberg and director of the Anneberg Foundation,  remains confident the 60-foot high wheel – half of which will be underground – will be built by next year in time for the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. She told the Yaroslavsky blog: “It’s gonna happen.”

The La Noria presentation is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Metabolic Studio, 1745 N. Spring St.


  1. That looks pretty spectacular!

  2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. “Official Map No. 4 of Los Angeles City” shows the location of the first two water wheels. These wheels were built by William Dryden, under a permit from the city in 1861 and 1862–the first washed away in the winter of 1861-62 and the second during the winter of 1866-67. Both were located just northwest of the present day location of the Broadway Viaduct and are noted as Old Wheel on the map. The third water wheel was built opposite Solano Street at Buena Vista (Broadway) in 1867 and feed a small reservoir at northwest corner of Bishops Road and Broadway. All of the wheels were powered by L.A. River water that was diverted by a small Toma or dam just northwest of the first two water wheels. The Tomas washed away with the first two wheels with the final Toma disappearing soon after the three wheel was built.

  4. Sorry to throw cold water on wheel idea, ha ha try the veal — this seems to me a poor idea of urban art for following reasons:

    — yearly repair after winter rains roar down channel, inclu complete replacement during El Nino deluges that nearly crest bed;

    — thing will be a tagger magnet. Got paint?

  5. Then I guess they’ll just have to build it well to sustain those elements and give the community a chance to value and protect its culture. Creating for the lowest common denominator gives you just that, a society full of the lowest common denominator. Let’s at least try to raise the bar. I think it’s a great idea.

  6. “…give the community a chance to value and protect its culture.”

    Whose community? Whose culture? How about money spent where it will do practical good? Recreation, education, art programs for the community where this — will dare say it — boondoggle will be placed?

    Love art and human expression, don’t get me wrong, but have you seen what happens to the river during and El Nino event? Nothing stands in its way.

    • You’re so right, DarrellKuni!

      Let’s put everything on hold until we’ve taken care of homelessness, cancer, and all bad things!

      I’m outraged.

  7. try the veal not the irony.

  8. I love how they got a quote already for several million dollars…Kinkos can print that money out in a day or 2… and theres no money for schools and educateing people? what do you get from uneducated people? stupid things cuz they dont know the value or how to think enough what to value when a project like this comes up. its nice but in reality no one really cares if they didnt know this existed before it got washed out.

    Im at odds with this “ART” and its million dollars quote already. the pot holes on my street aren’t a million dollars and they still dont get repaired.

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