The smallest parks in Los Angeles

In a sleepy, residential strip of Venice exists a dirt mound densely covered by knee-high aloe vera plants; an elevated palm tree towers in the middle. It looks like your typical Southern California traffic median. It's also the smallest park in Los Angeles County.

Using 360-degree video, we visited some of the smallest parks using data from L.A. County Geographic Information Systems, which sources the various agencies that manage parks within the county. The videos are viewable normally on your computer but also can be viewed with VR gear such as Google Cardboard on Android and the Oculus Rift.

Bonus points if you can find the garden gnome.

Egret Park

Any park space smaller than one acre is typically considered a pocket park, according to the city department's guidelines. And then there are the smallest parks. Seventeen smaller than a tenth of an acre (4,356 feet) exist across the county. My journey starts on a strong note. Egret Park, which is managed outside of a city agency, gives the strongest park vibe out of the parks that were visited. It hugs a bike path, making it a good resting spot for cyclists. The Los Angeles River also snakes next to the park and you can get a scenic view of the Anza mural by artist Frank Romero. Just make sure you don't swing the other way — turn 180 degrees and you will also see a lovely, large concrete overpass of I-5.

Size: 2,398.93 square feet

Amenities: Park benches, water fountain and a view

Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

Highland Park

Also known as Veteran's Square Memorial, there's a large flag and pole in the middle of this traffic median with metal placards honoring veterans. There were remnants of fast food wrappers strewn around and one single patent leather pump neatly set on one of the concrete benches. A friendly middle-aged man at the nearby bus stop described how much this particular area of Highland Park has transformed over the decades because of gentrification.

Size: 1,967.69 square feet

Amenities: Benches and memorial displays

Agency: L.A. City Bureau of Street Services

Gateway Triangle

One word describes this park: "awkward." It didn't help that I begrudgingly had to repark my car after a street hawker selling maps of celebrity homes verbally accosted me for parking on "his curb" (For the record, I parked on a perfectly legal and residential road and none of these "potential customers" even showed up to purchase said maps.) I eventually walked onto the strip of grass that the pin on Google Maps told me was Gateway Triangle. I looked around. I looked down again at my phone. This can't be it, I thought. I was on a small plot of grass on a sidewalk. A vine-covered stone wall flanks one side of it while European cars sped down Sunset Boulevard several feet on the opposite side. A brown and yellow "BEVERLY HILLS" sign and traffic light awkwardly jut out near the center.

Size: 1,887.23 square feet

Amenities: None

Agency:L.A. City Recreation and Parks Department

Aliso Triangle

A larger traffic median that is mostly dirt accented with palm trees and artsy gravel design. You get a partial view of downtown L.A.'s northeastern side, which is nice I guess.

Size: 1,871.15 square feet.

Amenities: None

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Marco Triangle

We're in Venice now and the "awkward" level is rising. The park consists of a tree in the middle of a narrow Venice walkway. Just one tree. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Establishing pocket parks to create more "green space" in L.A. gained traction about 10 years ago following a needs assesment, said Cathie Santo Domingo, the parks department's superintendent for planning and construction. That eventually led to identifying city-owned land parcels that could be converted to parks.

Size: 1,467.23 square feet

Amenities: None

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Amoroso Triangle

This park is another plot with a single tree in a residential walkway. It wasn't included in the county's GIS dataset but the city parks department lists it as 0.3 acres. The agency could not provide an exact square footage. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Size: Roughly 1,300 square feet

Amenities: None

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Nowita Triangle

Another solo tree (A+ for consistency). "Oddball" parks, such as the Venice locations on this list were acquired after the city annexed the beachfront neighborhood. Once acquired as parks, they stay as parks.

Size: 1,199.42 square feet

Amenities: None (except for that one tree)

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Marco Place Parkway

OK, Venice, you love your single tree parks. Wood planks are nailed on the tree's trunk, suggesting that people have used them to climb and chill on the thick branches.

Size: 1,196.19 square feet

Amenities: None

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Crescent Place Triangle

Despite its official park designation, Crescent Place Triangle doesn't really look or feel like a park. The space is an unwalkable (make sure a car on its route around this traffic circle doesn't hit you), 706-square-foot traffic circle roughly the size of a small apartment.

"There really hasn’t been an active conversation" on what to do with parks like Crescent Place Triangle, Domingo said.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Size: 706.86 square feet

Amenities: None

Agency: L.A. City Recreation and Parks

Additional programming by Armand Emamdjomeh.

Sources: Los Angeles County GIS, Assessor's Office, City Parks Deptartment; QGIS, Google Earth, OpenStreetMap, Times reporting.