Los Angeles Region Planning History Group – Collquium XI – Black Gold in Paradise

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Date(s) - Apr 11, 2015
9:30 am - 2:00 pm

Signal Hill Community Center

There was Los Angeles before oil, and Los Angeles after oil.  Some benefited, many did not.

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?

Please Join the Los Angeles Region Planning History Group for an informative and lively discussion on the issues we faced then and now.


Sarah S. Elkind, Professor of History, San Diego State University. Dr. Elkind focuses on environmental, California, and public history.  She is the author of How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy: Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth Century Los Angeles, published in 2011.

Kenneth C. Farfsing, City Manager, City of Signal Hill.  Mr. Farfsing has more than 30 years’ experience in planning, redevelopment and city management in a host of Southern California communities.  He is a member of the LARPHG Board.

Nancy Quam-Wickham, Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach.  Dr. Quam- Wickham’s research includes topics in environmental history and methods for teaching history. She is the author of “Cities Sacrificed on the Alter of Oil: Popular Opposition to Oil Development in 1920s Los Angeles” and “Another World: The Metropolis and Working Class Culture in Los Angeles Blue Collar Suburbs, 1920-1935.”

To Register

Colloquium fee is $50; students with valid student ID, $35 (your fee includes both continental breakfast and lunch).  Please confirm attendance with  Alice Lepis, LARPHG Secretary at [email protected] , or at 818.769.4179, on or before 5 pm Friday, April 3.

Pay by Pay Pal, accessible through our website at www.larphg.org; or by check payable to: “Los Angeles Region Planning History Group” with completed registration form sent to:  LARPHG, c/o Alice Lepis, Secretary, 11227 Acama St., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Please include a copy of your student ID if you are registering as a student.

Black Gold in Paradise Flyer