Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Tar Seep at Wilshire and Curson

Tar seep at Wilshire Blvd and Curson Avenue (photo by Amy Steinberg)

Observant Buzz reader Amy Steinberg us several photos of tar seeping onto Wilshire Blvd. last week. Curious about the phenomenon, we contacted Dr. Emily Lindsey, Assistant Curator & Excavation Site Director at La Brea Tar Pits,  who told us, “the spill was not connected to our museum, except of course that the reason La Brea Tar Pits have the tar pits is that there is this big underground reservoir of oil (the Salt Lake Oil Field). Structural weaknesses in the rock in the area allow the oil to make its way to the surface.”

Coincidently, that same day,  Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC), announced the beginning of a long-term initiative to reimagine and renovate one of the Tar Pits’ most prized components: its 12-acre campus in Hancock Park, encompassing the world-renowned La Brea Tar Pits and the George C. Page Museum.

Three firms were selected to compete for the assignment of leading the master planning team. Dorte Mandrup (Copenhagen), WEISS/MANFREDI (New York) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York) were selected through a process that began in March 2019. The three firms will develop conceptual approaches to the project, which NHMLAC will unveil for public comment in late August 2019. On the basis of its own review and the public’s feedback, NHMLAC expects to announce its chosen firm toward the end of 2019. The firm will then lead a multi-disciplinary creative team through a public engagement, master planning, design and construction process over the next several years.

Dr. Bettison-Varga said, “La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum are the only facilities of their kind in the world—an active, internationally renowned site of paleontological research in the heart of a great city, and a museum that both supports the scientists’ work and helps interpret it for more than 400,000 visitors a year. We are excited to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just renovate these facilities thoroughly but also to think deeply about how to make them function as well for neighbors and guests over the next 40 years as they have for the last 40—perhaps, even better. It’s an adventure that starts now, with the blue-sky thinking of our Ideas Incubator, and will continue with the work of three of the best architecture and design teams in the world—and the input of Angelenos as well. We look forward eagerly to seeing the concept proposals and hearing from our community.”

Another view of the seep at the southwest corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Curson Avenue on June 6, 2019 (photo by Amy Steinberg)

And, as you can see, it is indeed an active site!


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. I used to work a block away and that activity has been ‘bubbling up’ on that corner for at least 5 years. It used to be cordoned off so no one would step in it. It seems very exposed in those pictures and a potential liability for the City?


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