I remember one of the first (of many) things that freaked me out about L.A. when I first moved here was the post apocalyptic wasteland of oil derricks you see when you’re driving north out of LAX on La Cienega. Coming from New England, I always assumed that sort of thing was reserved for the more rural, wide-open west — not urban, world-class-city Los Angeles.

It was the first of many of my assumptions about L.A. that turned out to be very, very wrong. The city, as it turns out, used to be mostly farmland, orchards, and oil fields — fairly recently in its history, too.

While searching for an unrelated map, fellow map nerd Nikolas Schiller came upon an old map of downtown and West L.A. from 1905, showing the locations of all the oil wells and derricks that used to dot the landscape. He used the map to create a Google Earth Overlay, which is pretty fascinating.

Click through to see if you’re sitting on an old filled-in well. Then worry.

Then be sure to check out the rest of Nikolas’ site. Especially if you like maps, fractals, computer art, and small doses of radical progressive political thought.

Via Curbed L.A.

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