The Urban Oil Fields of Los Angeles.
September 1, 2014 12:23 PM   Subscribe


 
That second picture from 1937 is a sight to behold. Great find.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 12:30 PM on September 1, 2014


Previously on the topic.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:42 PM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


They look so out of place that these photos look like entries in a (boring) Photoshop Phriday contest.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:56 PM on September 1, 2014


> A pumpjack operates in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant

The circle is unbroken.
posted by stbalbach at 1:01 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


A new tower undergoes construction among various structures and palm trees that are used to camouflage oil extraction operations on Island White, one of four such oil drilling islands operated by THUMS Long Beach Company...
Are we talking about artificial islands, constructed just for the purpose of drilling, or are we talking about natural islands that have turned out to be fruitful drilling locations?
posted by Western Infidels at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2014


They're artificial islands, and the wells slant way out, so they're pulling oil from all over the place.
posted by jjwiseman at 1:07 PM on September 1, 2014


I think it highly appropriate that this story happens temporally near the passenger pigeon story.

Sometime in the future someone will say: "Once there were thousands of oil wells... then there were none."
posted by MikeWarot at 1:13 PM on September 1, 2014


jjwiseman: ...and the wells slant way out, so they're pulling oil from all over the place.

Still drinkin' our milkshake.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I find the use of camouflage on these oil drilling structures fascinating. It seems to speak to how uncomfortable we are with confronting the visual evidence of our exploitation of the environment, when that exploitation is happening literally in our backyards.
posted by conorh at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


That second photo...I was like, "I had no idea the Watts towers were so huge..."
posted by pravit at 1:53 PM on September 1, 2014


So the Beverly Hillbillies only came from as far as Signal Hill?
posted by GuyZero at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I grew up in this environment and didn't even really notice the strangeness of it until well into my 20s. The house I live in now is about half a mile away from a very active oilfield, and my commute takes me past a number of others, as well as a bunch of offshore rigs and one of those artificial islands. I can't think of any wells right next to subdivisions like those shown in a few of these pictures, but they're so utterly commonplace that I wouldn't be surprised to discover that they're there and I've just blotted them out of my vision the way most people do with other bits of infrastructure they never deal with directly. When pumpjacks are as common as electrical substations or telco switching facilities they just don't seem notable.
posted by contraption at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Surreal.
posted by Mr. Six at 2:40 PM on September 1, 2014


A short video tour, which includes the one I see daily at the Beverly Center. Also, this is a guide that focuses on the urban center of LA (the Atlantic article pics are mostly about Signal Hill, which is closer to Long Beach).
posted by linux at 2:53 PM on September 1, 2014


So they're called pumpjacks and not grasshoppers? That's disappointing.Especially after seeing THIS as a kid..
posted by happyroach at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems to speak to how uncomfortable we are with confronting the visual evidence of our exploitation of the environment, when that exploitation is happening literally in our backyards.

I dunno that we really are. What is clear is that living near industrial areas is a very obvious class marker for a lot of Americans, certainly postwar. Compare this evidence of "exploitation of the environment" with the proximity tolerances of suburban Americans for power lines and freeways.
posted by dhartung at 4:09 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


So that Saved By the Bell Episode was historically accurate.

(Season 3, Episode 11, "Pipe Dreams", RIP Becky)
posted by Sreiny at 4:19 PM on September 1, 2014


Huh. I've passed the "Cardiff Tower" on Pico a million times but never knew it was an oil rig. The more you know.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:42 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google Maps user "6500k" has assembled a list/map of Urban Oil Wells in Los Angeles.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:30 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yep, I grew up around the corner of the Cardiff Tower. It's just always been there. And I helped paint the oil derrick by BHHS. Ed and Bernie Massey are BHHS alums (I am not, but the larger community was very involved in the project in many ways) and from what I remember, the panels were mostly painted by pediatric hospital patients, using all manner of adaptive painting techniques.
posted by atomicstone at 6:19 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


dtartung: Sorry, are you saying that it was a marker of higher class or lower class to be near industrial areas?
posted by atomicstone at 6:22 PM on September 1, 2014


Uh, the latter:

For 100 years, people, mostly blacks, have lived next door to the booming Chevron Richmond Refinery built by Standard Oil, a plant so huge it can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Hundreds of tanks holding millions of barrels of raw crude dot 2,900 acres of property on a hilly peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Five thousand miles of pipeline there move gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other chemical products.

During World War II, African Americans like Clark's family moved to homes in the shadow of this refinery because they had nowhere else to go. Coming to California looking for opportunity, they quickly learned that white neighborhoods and subdivisions didn't want them.

The people of Richmond live within a ring of five major oil refineries, three chemical companies, eight Superfund sites, dozens of other toxic waste sites, highways, two rail yards, ports and marine terminals where tankers dock. The city of 103,701 doesn't share the demographic of San Francisco, 25 miles to the south, or even Contra Costa County, or the state as a whole.

In North Richmond – the tiny, unincorporated neighbor of Richmond – Latinos, blacks and Asians make up 97 percent of the 3,717 residents, compared with 82.9 percent in Richmond and 59.9 percent in California, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures.

posted by dhartung at 11:15 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The environment and human rights one and the same.
posted by stbalbach at 7:09 AM on September 2, 2014


Ah, number 9. Used to drive past those daily when I lived in Carbon Canyon.
posted by malocchio at 8:09 AM on September 2, 2014


I think I didn't even think of it until I moved away from them. My dad worked in the oil industry, so I just assumed they were everywhere (first in Southern California, then Southeast Texas). It didn't occur to me that we lived near them because it was his job. Then at age 7, we moved to suburban Chicago. And it seemed odd not to have them around.

On a different note, I always wondered where they filmed all of those LA noir type scenes out in the oil fields. Seeing pictures of the Culver City Oil Field instantly answered my questions.
posted by Badgermann at 12:02 PM on September 2, 2014


The cemetery in #22 can be seen in #2 in the upper right quadrant. (Long Beachian)
posted by sweetmarie at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2014


Right, but well wells in LA, Beverly Hills, La Brea, Beverlywood, etc, urban wells are in very expensive real estate. Add Santa Barbara off the top of my head. I think you're right generally, but that these Southern California urban wells are very bad examples to prove that general point.
posted by atomicstone at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google Maps user "6500k" has assembled a list/map of Urban Oil Wells in Los Angeles.

Awesome! This will be very useful after civilIzation collapses, and I need to find places to refuel my Interceptor, between roaring around the cracked highways of the Los Angeles Wasteland.
posted by happyroach at 4:16 PM on September 3, 2014


For a comprehensive, official map of active and capped wells in California, see the DOGGR (Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources) well finder.
posted by jjwiseman at 9:47 PM on September 3, 2014


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