Smoke rises from Mt. Wilson above Los Angeles on Tuesday around noon. The wildfire has threatened the observatory and critical communications towers. Today it’s too hazy to see anything but the barest suggestion of the downtown skyline, much less the mountains behind it. Not that it looked quite this clear even on Tuesday – I ran the photo through auto white balance to make everything easier to see.
I’m reminded of the last time the mountaintop complex was threatened by fire, during the 2009 Station Fire… and the photos I scanned from a 1992 tour of the observatory, wondering if that had been my only chance to see it.
Adding a splash of color to Brutalist design, in the final stages of converting an office building near LAX to a hotel. Believe it or not, the bolted-on cross pieces are new. I can’t imagine they’re aesthetic, which makes me wonder if it’s some sort of earthquake retrofitting and they’re making the best of it.
It’s an interesting approach, but it still looks way more institutional than inviting, IMO.
Update: It turns out the scaffolding is being used to hang a full-height geometric design. I’m still not convinced it didn’t start as some sort of seismic retrofit, but it will at least look a little more inviting once they’re done.
These are all on three different days, incidentally, which is why you can’t see the first square on the left side in the middle photo.
Update: This LA Times article on what to do in an earthquake may be relevant. In most cases, you want to drop, cover, and hold — don’t run outside, since you’re more likely to be hit by something falling off a building than crushed in a collapse. But “brittle concrete buildings” are more likely to collapse than other types.
The city of Los Angeles in 2015 passed a law requiring those buildings to be retrofitted, but gave owners a 25-year deadline to do it once they are given an order to seismically evaluate the building. The city is still working on preparing its list.
We went out to a hill to view last night’s Independence Day fireworks after an afternoon at a family barbecue. Some years we go down to the beach for a closer view. This year the process of getting there, finding a parking space (usually very far away), walking all the way down (and all the way back up) with a small child, finding a viewing spot, and afterward spending over an hour to get out through clogged streets just wasn’t appealing.
So we went to a hill a mile or so away, joining a standing throng of people waiting for the local show to start. To the east and southeast we could see distant fireworks lighting up the horizon from San Pedro to Norwalk. Around the corner we could see a similar view of fireworks to the northeast, including Los Angeles proper.
It’s one thing to see one fireworks show at a time. It’s another to look out and see them all along the horizon. It’s unifying, appropriately enough.
We’d only been there a few minutes when the seaside display started. The next ridge of hills blocked the lower fireworks, but we could see most of them above the hill — without the deafening booms and smoke. The wind was blowing inland off the ocean, a smoke plume trailing sideways. As the finale hit, someone nearby set off their own unsanctioned display, to considerable applause.
After it was all over, we stayed for a few minutes, looking out at the more distant displays still going, then walked down the hill to the car and drove home.
The faint boom-boom-boom continued for hours, punctuated every 15-20 minutes by some closer pop! or shriek as someone set something off nearby. Sometime around midnight, it finally tapered off enough that I drifted off to sleep.
I don’t remember much about Marineland of the Pacific. It was an ocean park/aquarium like Sea World that operated near Los Angeles for several decades, closing in 1987. I know I visited at least once, with my grandparents, but all I remember is:
- The view from what I assume was Palos Verdes Drive, as the car crested a low summit, brown hills rising to the right and falling gently toward the ocean on the left. The park stood on a promontory jutting out into the ocean. I haven’t been able to locate the spot, but that could just mean the road’s been moved.*
- A sign saying “CAFE” visible from the parking lot, which I misread as rhyming with “safe.” (Evidently I was very young at the time.)
- That’s about it.
You’d think I’d remember the sea life at least a little, though I suppose it’s possible I’ve misattributed some memories to Sea World (which, come to think of it, I don’t remember super-well either).
Not much of Marineland remains aside from a few names at Terranea Resort, which now occupies the site. But a piece of that history is coming back. In 2014, a 35-foot whale statue from the park entrance was found in a maintenance yard. The city has approved plans to place the statue at Point Vicente Park just up the road.
Apparently the decline and closure of the park was rather sordid: HBJ, the textbook company that owned Sea World at the time, had tried to buy Marineland’s star orcas. They weren’t selling. So HBJ bought the park in December 1986. Late in January, they secretly loaded Orky and Corky onto trucks in the middle of the night and drove them down to San Diego. A week later, they announced the park would close in March. They shut it down halfway through February, and by May they’d sold off the property to a real estate developer. Plans for a conference center were never realized, and the site was abandoned for 20 years until construction began on Terranea.
*Update: My dad pointed me to the Wikipedia article, which led me to a post at Modern Day Ruins, which led me to the California Coastal Records collection of aerial photographs. I found one from 1986 that indicates that Rancho Palos Verdes Drive is in the same spot as it was back then, but the housing developments on either side to the east of the turnoff weren’t there at the time. That’s probably why I didn’t recognize it. Or the road I remember could be the one down to the parking lot.
Even in sunny Los Angeles, snowflakes symbolize Christmas and winter. It snows here, what, once every 100 years? (And we’re likely to wait even longer in the future.)
Update: The day before I posted this, KCET ran an article (with a photo gallery) on the history of snow in Los Angeles. It turns out it used to snow roughly once a decade…until 1962. It hasn’t snowed on the plain since. It snows in the higher mountains just about every year, and the San Fernando Valley (higher than the coastal plain) got a snowstorm in 1989. But the LA basin? Nothing in the last 54 years. Los Angeles is about 5°F warmer than it was a century ago. Half of that can be accounted for by the urban heat island effect. The rest is atmospheric warming.
Check out the KCET article – they’ve got some amazing pictures from LA snowfalls, mostly in the 1930s and 1940s.