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Los Angeles Residents Celebrate 150 Years of State Parks
Nestled in the middle of Los Angeles in between South La Cienega and La Brea Boulevards lies Kenneth Hahn State Park, a hidden oasis with a strong band of local followers who aren't eager to share their knowledge with others.
“Honestly, it’s the best kept secret in the whole county,” said John Dermend, a resident of the area who visits the park once a week to run with his friend Joy Siemens.
The park sits high atop Baldwin Hills, a unique location that rises up from the middle of an otherwise flat urban basin. Yet from the road, it is quite easy to overlook.
“I live ten minutes away and everyone I know lives
within five miles of here,” Dermend added. “But when
I ask them, ‘have you ever been up to Kenny Hahn
Park?’ they say ‘no where is that?’”
Named after Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth
Hahn, the park was established in 1983 and boasts 308-
acres of land. Its amenities include a fishing lake, lotus
pond, two baseball diamonds, four playgrounds and
more than five miles of hiking trails that offer views of
Westwood, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, the
Santa Monica Bay, and even Catalina Island.
“It’s the most beautiful park, you can see every direction
of LA,” Siemens said. “We’re surrounded by millions
of people and look at how many people are up here – we
have the whole place to ourselves!”
The park also offers sports and exercise programs to the public, including the Walking Club, which meets the 3rd week of every month to help encourage local residents to get outside and be active. Little league baseball and youth soccer practices are also held at the park, giving inner-city children, who may not have a backyard at home, an open space to play.
“I come here all the time but my nephew had never been,” said Los Angeles resident Jennifer Pinks, whose favorite part of the park is the Japanese Garden. “He is so excited to feed the ducks – who knew there were ducks in the middle of LA!”
Kenneth Hahn is one of 24 state parks in Los Angeles County
and 280 total in the state of California. In fact, California is
home to the nation’s first state park, and next year will mark
its 150th birthday.
Signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864, the
Yosemite Grant Act alotted the state of California nearly 40,000
acres of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for
recreational land. This monumental bill was the first instance in
U.S. history of land being designated for preservation and public
use by the federal government, marking a turning point in
national history and warranting a state-wide celebration for its
“This sesquicentennial allows us to reflect on, learn from and
share our history with all Californians,” said Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret.) State Parks Director, in a press release by California State Parks. “We are planning an amazing variety of events throughout the state... Stay tuned as we commemorate this momentous occasion.”
The California State Parks Anniversary Committee has designated the theme of the 150th anniversary to be, “A gift from the people, to the people,” and promises that 2014 will include many celebratory events at parks throughout the state, which have yet to be publicly announced. The committee, comprised of five former park rangers, was formed in 1990 for the sole purpose of helping to “organize, promote and celebrate” milestone anniversaries of the state parks, according to its website.
In a city known for its traffic and air pollution, commonly called “smog,” the importance of preserving natural land for public recreational use has surged. However, California’s State Park System “has faced many challenges over the past several years” in working to maintain its valuable land, “including budget cuts, threats of park closures, and service reductions,” according to its website. Such hurdles were cause enough for state Legislature to “pass laws requiring California State Parks to develop a revenue generation program” in hopes of improving finances.
One visit to Kenneth Hahn State Park and it isn’t hard to understand the importance of recreational land in bettering communities. Children running throughout the playground laughing, a father and a son playing catch, an elderly couple walking their Shih Tzu, two friends hiking the trails together – parks cater to all types of people, no matter their age, race, religion, or gender, and in today’s society, that is something to be highly valued.
A bridge over a stream leading to Gwen Moore Lake at Kenneth Hahn State Park.
LA residents John Dermend and Joy Siemens enjoy the view from the top of Kenneth Hahn State Park.
Kenneth Hahn State Park
4100 South La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
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