Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Photos, Video: Revisiting The Devastating Baldwin Hills Dam Collapse 50 Years Later

Our reporting is free for everyone, but it’s not free to make.
LAist only exists with reader support. If you're in a position to give, your donation powers our reporters and keeps us independent.

Just 50 years ago, the Baldwin Hills Dam collapsed, leaving the area devastated and five killed.

There were nearly 300 million gallons of water that spilled out of the 19-acre reservoir that supplied drinking water to West L.A. residents on the afternoon of Dec. 14, 1963. It destroyed 65 homes and damaged 210, according to the Los Angeles Times. It took nearly 77 minutes for the dam to empty after it broke. Local residents started looting afterwards and numerous arrests were made, reported KTLA.

Some residents in the neighborhood didn't even know that the dam existed before it broke. Gene Grayson was 18 at the time when the reservoir collapsed. “Two police officers on motorcycles rushed up to us and told us to get off the court and leave the area immediately because the dam had broken and we were in danger,” Grayson told Los Angeles Wave. “We looked at these two white cops like they were crazy and told them there are no dams around here, and we kept on playing."