Saturday, November 05, 2016
Ever since I was a child, the La Brea Tar Pits captured my imagination, with thoughts of a prehistoric landscape populated by camels, giant sloths, birds, mammoths, Smilodons (ye olde "Saber Tooth Tigers"), dire wolves, small horses, and other critters long-gone.
Everyone loves to point out that "La Brea Tar Pits" translates into "The Tar Tar Pits", and I admit, it has a certain ring to it. The black goo is actually asphalt, endlessly bubbling up from deposits. The sticky stuff trapped plenty of animals, and even preserved pollen, plants, and sea shells.
Located on what is now a busy stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, right next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, people can still see the tar pits, and explore the George C. Page Museum. One of the most famous features is this black lake - actually the remains of an area where the asphalt was mined for various purposes. There's something fascinating about watching giant methane bubbles break the surface regularly. Bloop! The petroleum aroma is pretty strong.
The wonderful fiberglass sculptures of a family of 3 mammoths were created by artist Howard Ball, and installed in 1968. I can't remember if they were all there the last time I visited - I seem to recall a saber-toothed cat sculpture as well, once upon a time. The unfortunate fellow seen here actually floats on a sort of palette that is just beneath the surface - a breeze will make him drift.