Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Carribean Fragoza
Published: 16 May 2016, KCET

To the untrained eye these little guys can easily pass for frogs, as they did for decades, earning Elysian Valley's Frogtown moniker. Photo by Ryan Winkleman

The Los Angeles River and its environs is home to a wealth of flora and fauna. This series of posts on Confluence attempts to unveil the hidden wildlife that thrives along the river banks.

Elysian Valley got its moniker, Frogtown, from the many four-legged amphibians that used the crawl into the neighborhood up until the 1970s. Seeing these slimy creatures, residents casually identified them as frogs. “At the time, they were not very many environmentalists or scientists living in the neighborhood,” said Raul Rodriguez, whose family in the neighborhood since 1942.

At the time, Elysian Valley was just getting used to being called Frogtown. Modern day cartographer Eric Brightwell, writes the area was first called Gopher Flats around 1900, when it was established for railroad workers. It was later called Little River Valley and by the 30s, it finally got the name Frogtown.

But Lila Higgins, manager of citizen science at the L.A. County Natural History Museum (NHM) and program coordinator for Play the LA River, says these “frogs” were more likely to be Western Toads. More specifically, baby Western Toads, which were tiny. [read more]


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