Fast Company

Gushing About L.A.'s Cleverly-Disguised Urban Oil Fields

Anyone who arrives at Los Angeles International Airport is immediately introduced to our oil wells, a series of slow-moving creatures nodding throughout the hills heading down into the basin. But those highly-visible pumpjacks are only the tip of the Texas tea, as it were. L.A. has 41 lesser-known active oil fields in the city--and one famous one, the La Brea Tar Pits--pumping more than 20 million barrels out of our palm-fringed streets annually.

oil

Over at Design Observer, there's a slideshow of the exhibition at the Center for Land Use Interpretation (which is right here in L.A.) Urban Crude: The Oil Fields of the Los Angeles Basin that opened last month. Most fascinating are the devices employed to keep passerby in the dark: Clever landscaping, distracting architecture, and urban design elements that make things like methane vents look like innocuous squat streetlights. The floral well above is located in Beverly Hills, just a few blocks from Rodeo Drive.

VBS.tv, the video channel for Vice, visits several of L.A.'s best in-plain-view sites (most, in an interesting coincidence, are located beneath what are now shopping malls), as well as a smaller, privately-owned well. For perspective, however, check out an overlay map of the 100+ Los Angeles wells 103 years ago.

[VBS.tv and Design Observer]

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