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June 1, 2019

Los Angeles Oil Fields Boom: Pictures of Oil Derricks Loomed Over California Beaches From the 1920s and 1930s

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 oil derricks loomed over California beaches from the 1920s and 1930s.

Oil derricks line the coast of Venice, California, c. 1920.

A family beach picnic with Signal Hill oil derricks in the background, c.1920.

A Long Beach home with oil derricks nearby, c.1929.

An oilfield in Venice, California, c.1930.

The Signal Hill oilfield in southern California, c.1930.

Oil derricks line a road outside Los Angeles, c.1930.

Germany races Italy in the Long Beach Marine Stadium during the 1932 Olympic Games, Aug. 12, 1932.

Four boats race in the Long Beach Marine Stadium during the 1932 Olympic Games, August 1932.

Mrs. W. B. Stoddard stands with her dogs in the yard of her home near the George K. Linderman well in Redondo Beach, April 11, 1936.

Goats near an oilfield in Huntington Beach, c.1937.

Sunnyside Cemetery in Long Beach, c.1937.

Oil derricks on Huntington Beach, c.1937.

Cars travel through the Venice oilfield, c.1937.

Students practice archery at Beverly Hills High School, with oil derricks nearby, c.1937.

Laundry dries on a clothesline near the Venice oilfield, c.1937.

A couple on Huntington Beach, c.1937.

Oil derricks and bathers on Huntington Beach, c.1937.

Sunbathers on Huntington Beach, c.1937.

The coast along the Venice oilfield, in what is now Marina del Rey, c.1937.

Men play volleyball on the beach next to the Venice oilfield, c.1937.

Oil derricks loom behind St. Mary's by the Sea Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, c.1937.

An oil derrick abuts a beach house in Venice, June 2, 1937.

(Photos: Getty Images)



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