CLUI : Urban Crude

The Center For Land Use Interpretation. Urban Crude: The Oil Fields of the Los Angeles Basin

A gorgeous online exhibit of the Oil Fields  of the Los Angeles Basin.

If you have ever biked, walked, or driven slowly through Wilshire’s La Brea Tar Pits – Home of the Natural History Museum’s Page Museum, you have undoubtedly been “hit” with that pungent smell of tar, gasoline, and decaying organic matter. Welcome to the South Lake Oil Field! one of the number of oil fields peppered along the Los Angeles Basin.

If you look carefully around the Museum Square area of mid-city you will notice smelly “smoke pipes” emanating from the ground, some short (about 5 feet tall) others masquerading as lamp posts, sans the lamp. these methane vents aide in the ventilation and prevent the accumulation of methane gas in the area and stink up the place (random tar even seeps from the ground in some places)

The Tar Pits have been of great consequence to the urban landscape of Los Angeles. Rancho La Brea’s pits have not only survived the oil booms, Wilshire blvd construction, it’s subsequent urbanization, but as of today still act as an obstacle to be cleared for construction and public undertakings like the construction of the LA Metro Purple Line extension.

La Brea Tar Pits (ca. 1924, Photo from WaterandPower.org)

The articles sites the March 24th 1985 methane explosion at a Ross department store (other) on the Fairfax district as a reason why Congressman Henry Waxman passed a bill banning the use of Prop A and Prop C funding for tunneling in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Bills he himself banned in 2005 according to the LA Metro article above

Further reading:

like the 2011 Methane explosion (mentioned here as well on this unverified site Natural Gas Watch)

Another report I found on Methane gas in the area (Methane Gas System Design Report Alpha Beta Supermarket corner of Wilshire/Hauser)

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