Photos: Echo Park Lake reopens to the public

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Echo Park Lake is an artificial body of water. Built by a private company, it first came into existence as a catch-basin in the 1860s and was known simply as Reservoir #4. In 1891, the City of L.A. acquired the lake and the area surrounding it and turned it into a park.

For the last two years, Los Angeles’ Echo Park Lake has been off-limits to the public, surrounded by chain-link fences and “Do Not Enter” signs. In a $45 million restoration project, the lake was closed, drained, scrubbed clean and refilled. That was a response to growing levels of pollution in the lake that violated State of California health standards. The pollution also lead to algae blooms and the dying off of the lake’s famous delicate Lotus flowers.

As efforts to drain and clean the lake were underway, workers were also busy improving the 16 acres of lush green space around the  water. That work included adding new visitor features and landscaping, restoring old buildings on the property, and a general cleaning up in places that had long been neglected.

This weekend, the public got to enjoy the fruits of all that restoration labor with the reopening of Echo Park Lake. Hundreds of people came out to walk the lakefront and enjoy time with friends and family in the park areas adjacent to the Lake.  Here’s what some of it looked like.

Echo Park Lake is an artificial body of water. Built by a private company, it first came into existence as a catch-basin in the 1860s and was known simply as Reservoir #4. In 1891, the City of L.A. acquired the lake and the area surrounding it and turned them into a park for the growing city. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Swimming isn't permitted in Echo Park Lake, but that didn't stop some kids from trying. Then LAPD officers showed up to tell them the fun was over.
Swimming isn’t permitted in Echo Park Lake, but that didn’t stop some kids from trying on opening weekend. The LAPD officers showed up to tell these boys and girls that their fun in the water was over. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Upgrades to Echo Park Lake include new viewing platforms over the water and the restoration of the Lake's boathouse. The boats, though, aren't on the water yet.
Upgrades to Echo Park Lake include new viewing platforms over the water and the restoration of the Lake’s boathouse. The boats, though, aren’t on the water yet. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
New walking paths around Echo Park Lake are perfect for strolling and jogging. There are also new lights around the perimeter for evening activities.
New walking paths around Echo Park Lake are perfect for strolling and jogging. There are also new lights around the perimeter for evening activities. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Lotus plants that grow in the water are Echo Park Lake's iconic vegetation. Their beds have been replanted as part of the restoration work, but they'll be under wire mesh for a while to offer them extra protection.
Lotus plants that grow in the water are Echo Park Lake’s iconic vegetation. Their beds have been replanted as part of the restoration work, but they’ll be under wire mesh for a while to offer them extra protection. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
One of Echo Park Lake's best known monuments is a statue originally called "La Reina de Los Angeles," or Queen of Los Angeles. It later became known simply as the Lady of the Lake. The Art Deco-style statue was created by Ada May Sharpless and installed in 1934. For years, the Lady of the Lake was in storage after it had been damaged with graffiti. As part of the renovation work, the statue has been moved to a small peninsula on the northside of Echo Park Lake.
One of Echo Park Lake’s best known monuments is a statue originally called “La Reina de Los Angeles,” or Queen of Los Angeles. It later became known simply as the Lady of the Lake. The Art Deco-style statue was created by Ada May Sharpless and installed in 1934. For years, the Lady of the Lake was in storage after it had been damaged with graffiti. As part of the renovation work, the statue has been moved to a small peninsula on the north side of Echo Park Lake.