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Zanja Madre

(originally published 4/30/2014)

All photos and text ©Peter Bennett - All Rights Reserved

I am a history geek and anytime I can shoot something that opens up a little window of the past for me is an exciting opportunity. Loving to shoot the LA River as I do, as well as water issues in general in and around the Los Angeles area, when I read about the discovery that a 100 foot section of the Zanja Madre had been discovered in a construction site in Chinatown, I knew I had to get myself down to the site and get some shots. The Zanja Madre or Mother Ditch, is a remnant of the 90 mile network of channels that first brought water to the early inhabitants of Los Angeles. Originally built in 1781 it was enclosed in 1877 and eventually abandoned in 1904.

I first made a few attempts to contact the local City Council member, Gil Cedillo. He had ingrained himself in to the situation as only a politician can, and I thought he might provide some opportunity for me to get in. A vague maybe from his media person turned into nothing, so I found myself driving down to the site on Friday morning hoping to talk myself onto the site with the back up plan being trying to shoot it from the Metro Gold line station that overlooked the site. As luck would have it, I simply walked into the contractor’s office and was promptly handed a hard hat and orange vest and a waiver to sign, no questions asked. The day was looking up...

For complete story contact me at pbennett(at)

All photos and text ©Peter Bennett - All Rights Reserved