A little slice of Yellowstone on Wilshire Boulevard

labreaI took a little break from thinking about history yesterday to think about prehistory instead with a visit to the LaBrea Tar Pits and the Page Museum.  The photo above shows what a dig there looks like–a jumble of different animal bones encased in solidified tar.

The open, ongoing digs were interesting, but I had no idea how active the site still is.  The Page Museum’s perimeter is full of bubbling tar seeps that will still entrap small animals and permit your children to cover themselves in tar!  For realz.  Keep an eye out for traffic cones on the lawn alerting you to an open seep.  It’s extra-cool, because this Yellowstone National Park-like seismic activity is all happening on Wilshire Boulevard in the middle of Los Angeles, on the same campus as the LACMA.

Watching kids poke sticks into the tarry goo at their feet inspired flashbacks to my own childhood, when I lived in a neighborhood that was still being built with fresh roads.  I’d run home summer afternoons, my feet covered in fresh tar which my parents removed with a gasoline-soaked rag.  (Leaded gas, I am sure!)


3 thoughts on “A little slice of Yellowstone on Wilshire Boulevard

  1. I can still remember and identify summer by the smell of tar or asphalt or macadam or whatever else it was on the roads when visiting my grandmother’s house at a new suburban development in Connecticut. Until you described it with words, though, I was looking at the dark contours on that picture as sloshing liquids, not the dry residue of same! But now I can’t reconstruct that perception. It’s funny how optics and tex/tonics work together to shape what we think of as pure visual reality. Those of us who are trapped in the coagulated goo of final exams week surely needed this touch of fluff!


  2. Yes! the LaBrea Tar Pits are amazing on so many dimensions. I almost stepped in some of that still-seeping tar myself. It’s easy to do. It’s no respecter of sidewalks or anything else. I can also still hear the yell of the young mother whose toddler set off across the grass, right through a seep, leaving a trail of cute little black toddler footprints as she headed for the family car.


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