After doing some Militant research, the Militant Angeleno paid a visit to them hills on Tuesday and found a five fascinating facts:
1. Enjoy the view. The Baldwin Hills is the home of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area which gives a place for Westsiders and Southsiders alike a place to picnic, BBQ, hike, fish, mountain bike or most of all - enjoy the view. The hills, which rise to heights between 300 and 500 feet in elevation, afford a beautiful view of Los Angeles, and from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, you can see views of the Pacific Ocean, Miracle Mile, Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles.
Admission to the park is free on weekdays but be prepared to pay a $6 entrance fee on weekends and holidays (but you're free to bike there (even better next year when the Metro Exposition Line opens nearby) or take Metro Local 439 on non-weekdays). The park entrance is accessible from La Cienega Blvd.
2. Enjoy The View, Too! There's not just one but two places to get a wonderful view. On the Culver City side, there's the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, also a state-owned parkland, which grants you a vista of LAX, an uninterrupted view of the Pacific Ocean, Century City, the Miracle Mile and parts of Hollywood.
The Militant drove up here on Tuesday after a tip from an operative some months ago. The park's entrance is on Jefferson Blvd and Hetzler Rd, which leads you up the hill. All was cool until he saw a sign reading, "PARKING $6.00." WTF?!?
There was no parking attendant, but rather a gravel lot (you pay $6 for parking and not on a paved lot?!?) with a box where you drop your money in. In other words, the honor system. Periodically, a Mighty Morphin Park Ranger would check to see if cars have paid or not (you leave a receipt stub on your windshield).
Of course, the gravel $6 parking lot was totally empty, and the Militant only stayed around long enough to enjoy the view for a couple minutes and take some pics. Of course, you can park for free at the bottom of the hill on Jefferson and walk up the hiking trail for free, which is what most park visitors do.
Though the Militant couldn't help but wonder whether the $6 thing is a deterrent to make this park, made for Westsiders (you know what the Militant's talkin' about), not so accessible to Southsiders (you know what the Militant's talkin' about).
3. A Dam Shame. Back at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area lies a bowl-like area with grass and trees called "Janice's Green Valley." And yes, it was named after the daughter of the park's namesake, who is now Los Angeles' 15th District Councilwoman (and currently candidate for California Lieutenant Governor). But there's more to that patch of land than the name. On that site once stood the Baldwin Hills Reservoir, which, on the morning of December 14, 1963, developed a crack in its dam, and hours later caused devastating flooding to the area below. 250 million gallons wiped away 277 homes and claimed five lives. The dam rupture was caused by land subsiding due to the nearby Inglewood Oil Fields.
Here's a KTLA clip of the disaster:
4. Drill, Baby, Drill? You've no doubt seen it while driving through La Brea, Stocker or La Cienega en route to LAX, or in movies like L.A. Confidential. It's big, it's bad, it's ugly, and even other-worldly. It's the Inglewood Oil Fields, which has been producing black gold since 1924 and is by far the largest remaining vestige of Southern California's once-immense oil production industry. Formerly operated by Stocker Resources, Inc (hence the street's name) and now merged into Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP), the field has produced some 350 million barrels of oil. These days, most of what is pumped is groundwater, and the majority of the pumps are inactive, albeit connected to sensors that will activate them once oil has reached pumpable levels. For the most part, production has gradually declined for parts of the oil field, and the nearby Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area has expanded out into no-longer pumpable areas. The oil fields are also linked to pumps adjacent to Beverly Hills High School and The Beverly Center, which PXP also operates.
In the future, when the oil fields eventually dry up, look for an expansion of Kenneth Hahn park and perhaps the most-sought-after undeveloped parcel of land in all of Los Angeles.
5. It Takes An Olympic Village. The Baldwin Hills were not only the site of the 1932 Olympics athletes' village, but the first formal Olympic Village ever. Some 1200 male athletes lived here for the duration of the Games of the Xth Olympiad. The 126 female athletes roomed in the Chapman Park Hotel (now demolished; the 34-story Equitable/Center Bank building stands in its place) in Mid-Wilshire).
Thing is, although it's been well-documented the 1932 Olympic Village was in the Baldwin Hills, just like the Lost City of Atlantis, no one can agree on its exact location. This web page devoted to the '32 village mentions two locations: Blair Hills in Culver City (nestled in between the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Kenneth Hahn Park) or an area west of Vernon and Crenshaw. The page seems to settle on the latter, which bears streets named "Olympiad Drive" and "Athenian Way."
The Militant went to Olympiad Drive but found the area to be rather hilly. The painting of the village above, however, shows obvious flat terrain. And another web site seems to point to the village's location as Leimert Park, which is flat, but is still a noticeable distance from the actual Baldwin Hills.
Does anyone know where the 1932 Olympic Village was located? Surely this sounds like another Militant reconnaissance mission in the works!