Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park

5790 Compton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Submitted by: Stephanie Landregan, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority

The Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park is a green oasis in the middle of an industrial neighborhood.

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Why It Works

Once a cement pipe storage yard, the Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park provides open space serenity in the heart of Los Angeles. This 8.5-acre state-of-the-art natural park fulfills a dream of returning nature to the urban landscape of Southern California.

Native plant communities, riparian areas, and rolling hills can be found along the paths of the Natural Park. Wildflowers bloom in the springtime and autumn colors can be seen in the leaves of the sycamore trees each fall. When you visit the park, be sure to stop by the Evan Frankel Discovery Center, which contains nature displays and information about a wide range of natural resources issues. The park also has numerous interpretive and learning programs scheduled each month, with a special emphasis on children's programs.

What Makes Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park a Great Place?

The park is located in an industrial wasteland. It is surrounded by block after block of concertina-topped chain link fences and graffiti-covered warehouses. As one drives down Compton Boulevard, trees become visible on the horizon. As you get closer to the park, the greenery stands out like a living beacon in a sea of concrete. There is ample seating along a path that circles the park. One of the main features of the park is its undulating topography, with hills and swales mimicking a native California setting. At the top of the hill, river rocks line a running stream, whose water is pumped by a windmill atop a hill, with water coursing down a small concrete spillway reminiscent of the L.A. River.

Initially, some neighbors were skeptical that a park in this location could be well maintained and safe. The park now has a ranger on site 24 hours a day. It is also enclosed by a beautiful 8 foot wrought iron fence that includes decorative designs based on natural themes: butterflies, ducks, hummingbirds and coyotes.

Within the park is the Discovery Center, an airy and calming place with wood floors, elegant Craftsman-style fixtures and an interior sliding stained glass door. Classes and workshops for children and adults are held at the Discovery Center every day at no charge. Every Saturday morning, anywhere from 15 to 75 people gather at the Discovery Center for classes and bus trips to local nature spots. The Center also has a library, an after school science club, a Junior Ranger leadership program and a monthly craft workshop.

Every day, local residents gather at the park to socialize and relax. This is where kids learn to ride bikes, birthdays are celebrated and couples walk hand in hand along the path. People feel safe in the park; rangers are always visible and maintenance staff work during park hours to reinforce the feeling of safety.

History & Background

The park was named in honor of Augustus F. Hawkins, who represented South Central from 1963 to 1991 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Hawkins is now 94 years old and has visited the park often.

Contact Info:

Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority: 323-585-3205

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