Sunday, February 20, 2011

Would Jed Clampett still come here?

Although it’s hard to believe now, Los Angeles was once a major oil center. Remnants of its former oily past are hiding in plain sight.

Beverly Hills High School has its own oil derrick, which still produces oil.

Baldwin Hills still has oil derricks, as does Signal Hill in Long Beach (shown below- the derrick’s in the middle of a parking lot for a restaurant!).

The city of El Segundo means “the Second” in Spanish. It was the site of Chevron (Standard Oil)’s second oil refinery in California.

The Union Oil building in downtown LA was the headquarters for- you guessed it- Union Oil.

Back when many oil companies had their headquarters in downtown, they had their own private club called (appropriately enough) the Petroleum Club, located in the Hilton Center Office Building. It closed its doors in the early 1990’s and was demolished in 1995. However, a wall of mosaic tile survived the wrecking ball. It shows the buildings and oil wells of the 1950’s.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Surrender Dorothy

In any major metropolis, land has had to be taken at some point to construct- or expand- an airport. In most cases, if the airport needed to expand, they moved farther away where there was available- and cheaper- land (like Denver or Dallas). But not Los Angeles- LAX is smack dab in the middle of an urban area. There has been a battle for years over expansion. But when the airport expanded the first time, in order to enter the jet age in the 60’s, hundreds of homes in Playa del Rey were taken by eminent domain. (Many people have written about this- go to or You can still see traces of these long-ago takings off of Vista del Mar and Waterview Street, such as the front door steps of homes, as well as neighborhood sidewalks and street corners.

It’s like they’re waiting for someone to drop a house back down on them- maybe this is where Dorothy Gale came from!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Voyager (To travel)

Welcome to my blog Voyager Los Angeles. I chose the name because I want you to travel around Los Angeles with me and discover all of the wonderful (and quirky and interesting) things it has to offer.

My first post is a picture of my very favorite freeway sign (and what could be more LA than that)- a sign for Interstate 10 proclaiming it to be the "Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway". Wow! I feel like I'm going on a real journey when I see that- I could be going to Texas, or Mississippi, or all the way to Jacksonville, Florida (where Interstate 10 ends) to get on a plane to Spain from where Columbus started his journey at the behest of los Reyes Catholicos (Ferdinand and Isabella), or to Genoa, Italy, where he was born-

or I could just get off at Robertson...
And speaking of the 10- although we Angelenos do indeed call it "the 10", the rest of the country does not share our love of the word "the". We put "the" in front of all freeways- the 405, the 101, etc.- so if you want to sound like a native, this is what you do:
"Yeah, you take the 101 to the 110 going south, then get on the 10 west, then the 405 south".

Happy travels!