Colloquium XI – Black Gold in Paradise

The Influence of Oil and Energy Extraction on LA’s Urban Form

Black GoldPresented by the Los Angeles Region Planning History Group in cooperation with the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

Signal Hill Community Center, Signal Hill
Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oil boomed in 1890s Los Angeles and by the 1920s, oil was shaping the region. By 1930, California produced one quarter of the world’s oil – it was the Saudi Arabia of America. In many ways, Black Gold paid for Paradise.

Welcome at first, oil was soon seen as a neighborhood threat. Federal controls offered fewer restrictions than the ordinances adopted in several local cities. Signal Hill offers a fascinating case study of the influence of oil on a local community’s identity, growth and development. Today, the city remains a working oil field coexisting within a residential community.

The political decisions of the past—local, state, and federal—offer examples of the decisions we will continue to face.

How have the region’s communities been shaped by oil, and how have those places remade themselves as time has passed? How can planning lessons from the past be applied to current issues such as the potential impact of fracking on local communities?

This session was recorded, and the full presentation is presented here.

The Los Angeles Region Planning History Group held an informative and lively discussion on the issues we faced then and now. Author/presenters included:

  • Sarah S. Elkind, Professor of History, San Diego State University
  • Kenneth C. Farfsing, City Manager, City of Signal Hill
  • Nancy Quam-Wickham,  Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach

Oil Drilling in the City: Zoning, Property Rights and Regulation (PDF, 11MB)
Presentation slides by Sarah S. Elkind

Colloquia Slide Show (26 images)

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