Today in history: November 4 and Los Angeles oil

Our friends at the LA History Twitter page have reminded us that today is November 4! What the heck does that mean, you ask?

You guessed it: Oil!

Or maybe you didn’t. It’s kind of a weird part of LA History to embrace, but, as we wrote about recently, the very first oil well was actually here in Echo Park. It was November 4, 1892 when Edward Doheny and Charles Canfield dug this well at the site of what is now the Echo Park Pool. This discovery launched an oil boom in Los Angeles, so today is an interesting, and important, day in our history.

Currently, there are just a handful of oil wells compared to what it used to be (see photo of the Belmont oil field below). In fact, there’s a Google map Urban Oil Wells existing in Los Angeles – check it out by clicking here. To put things in perspective, here’s an 1906 map of oil fields in Los Angeles:

Source: Library of Congress

I’ve added the blue dot to indicate Echo Park Lake, the orange dot indicates the Los Angeles River (it’s a little tough to read). All the little black dots are oil fields (not just individual wells, oil fields).

Belmont Oil Field, date unknown

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