The Urban Oil Fields of Los Angeles

In the 1890s, the small town of Los Angeles (population 50,000) began a transformation driven by the discovery and drilling of some of the most productive oil fields in history. By 1930, California was producing nearly one quarter of the world's oil output, and its population had grown to 1.2 million. In the decades that followed, many wells closed, but even more opened, surrounded by urban and suburban growth. Machinery was camouflaged, loud noises were abated, methane pockets were vented, as residents learned to live side-by-side with oil production facilities. To this day, oil fields in the Los Angeles Basin remain very productive, and modern techniques have centralized operations into smaller areas or moved offshore. Gathered here are images of some of the sites and machinery still in use among the homes, golf courses, and shopping malls of Los Angeles.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more
Back

Whitelist

Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Back

Please follow the steps below

Most Recent

  • HVO / USGS

    Lava Flows From Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano

    The current active lava flow (named “61g”) from Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano began as an eruption in May, and has spent months making its way to the shoreline.

  • Mark Burns

    An Explorer’s Ode to America’s National Parks

    A 160,000-mile quest to visit all 59 of the country's natural treasures

  • Mohd Rasfan / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 8/20-8/26

    Lenin underwater, a penguin weigh-in, monsoon flooding in India, an earthquake in central Italy, a deep blue lake in El Salvador, and much more.

  • Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuter / REUTERS

    Animals Rescued From the 'Worst Zoo in the World' in Gaza

    Four Paws, an international animal welfare group, has just completed the removal of the surviving 15 animals from the Khan Younis Zoo—dubbed the “worst zoo in the world”—in the Gaza Strip

Join the Discussion