The Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is a 1,500-acre (6.1 km2) multi-use facility that includes North Lake, Center Lake, and Legg Lake (where radio-controlled model speedboats may be operated), a rifle and pistol shooting range, numerous softball and soccer fields with picnic tables, a paved airstrip for radio-controlled hobby aircraft, a tether car race track, and a connector trail between the Class I Rio Hondo bicycling trail.
The park is roughly bounded to the north and west by Garvey Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard, and to the south and east by Durfee Avenue and Santa Anita/Merced Avenues. The Rosemead Blvd (State Route 19) exit south from the Pomona (60) Freeway is a convenient point of access.
The Whittier Narrows Nature Center, located within the Recreation Area, contains exhibits about the flora and animals of the river habitat, as well as live displays. The facility provides public programs, lectures, ranger tours, and educational opportunities. A proposed new interpretive center sparked criticism in October 2008 due to the probable destruction of a huge portion of existing wildlife habitat.
Dragon sculptures by Benjamin Dominquez can be found here; others can be found at the Laguna de San Gabriel Nautical Playground at San Gabriel’s Vincent Lugo Park.
The Whittier Narrows are a narrows or water gap located in Los Angeles County, California, between the Puente Hills to the east and the Montebello Hills to the west. The San Gabriel Valley’s southern edge is marked by the gap, through which the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel River flow to into the Los Angeles Basin. The Narrows are near the intersection of Interstate 605 (San Gabriel River Freeway) and California State Route 60. (the Pomona Freeway).
The Spanish Portolá expedition, the first European land exploration of Alta California, discovered Whittier Narrows on its way back to San Diego. The party had followed San Jose Creek on the way out, reaching the San Gabriel River north of the Narrows. “We started out in the morning through the gap of the valley of San Miguel [now San Gabriel], which is very full of trees; we traveled a long while to the southwest on the edge of the stream, which, rising from a copious spring of water in the same gap, merits now the name of river; its plain is covered with willows and some slender cotton woods,” wrote Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi in his diary. A flood in 1776 forced the relocation of Mission Vieja to Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in San Gabriel.
Whittier Narrows served as the meeting point for various land-grant ranchos established during the Spanish-Mexican era, notably Rancho Paso de Bartolo.
At 7:42 a.m. on October 1, 1987 The 5.9 Mw Whittier Narrows earthquake struck the Greater Los Angeles Area at 5:09 a.m. PDT, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe).
Next Point of Interest: Whittier Greenway Trail