Santa Monica News
Tongva Park Opens In Santa Monica
By Melissa Simon
Sep 10, 2013 - 6:40:20 PM

Photo credit: Jason Islas

SANTA MONICA—After nearly 16 months, the newly created Tongva Park opened to the public on September 10 with a soft opening. The official community opening will take place on October 19 with an even larger ceremony on November 17.

The 6.2-acre park cost the city $42.3 million, according to city officials, and features winding paths, observation points, plenty of lush grass, picnic areas, water features and a kids’ playground.

“Tongva Park was designed to recollect an arroyo with a source of water and native and indigenous grasses and topography, that’s kind of the essence of the park,” said Karen Ginsberg, director of Community and Cultural Services for Santa Monica.

Ginsberg said the many water features are linked by a runnel that travels through the main path in the park and ends with a feature at Ocean Avenue.

Starting in front of City Hall, there are a total of seven entrances and five distinct areas including: Garden Hill with seating alcoves and gardens; Discovery Hill with a children’s playground with a music wall, rock wall, telescope and interactive water features; Observation Hill with views of the ocean and the pier and shaded by large metal canopies that look like shells or waves; and Gathering Hill with large, open picnic areas.

Morty, the more than 100-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree. Photo credit: Jason Islas
More than 300 new trees were brought into the park to join several other existing trees.
The most famous and well-known existing tree is Morty, the more than 100-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree, who is kept company by three large caliper ficus trees called The Three Amigos. 

The park is expected to serve as a link between the Civic Center, the Santa Monica Pier, Palisade Park and Downtown.

Across from Tongva Park is Ken Genser Square, which is named after former Mayor Ken Genser who served on City Council for 21 years and was elected as mayor three times. Construction for Genser Square began around the same time as the park and November 17 will be in honor of Genser's birthday.

The name Tongva comes from a group of seafaring Native Americans that were the original group of inhabitants in the area. According to the City staff report, about 1,500 people currently identify themselves as Tongva and noted that several other cities come from the Tongva language, including: Azusa, Cahuenga Pass, Pacoima, Rancho Cucamonga, Topanga and Tujunga.

The park will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will be well-lit by LED lights at night. Dogs are allowed at the park if they are on leashes.

Tongva Park is located at 1615 Ocean Avenue and is bound by Main Street, the future Olympic Drive, Ocean Avenue and Interstate-10. Ken Genser Square is located at 1685 Main Street.

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