Every 24 hours, the Golden State produces over half a million barrels of crude, most of which is sourced in landlocked regions like Kern County and the San Joaquin Valley. Less than a century ago, scenic Southern California accounted for a full 20 percent of global output. The Long Beach field, first tapped in , was among the most productive sources of the time. In particular, the Signal Hill area of Long Beach became home to hundreds of wooden drilling derricks owned by independent speculators, many of whom had bought property when the neighborhood was subdivided for residential development. Just south, in Huntington Beach, and in Santa Barbara to the north, legions of derricks lined the coast, vying for space with sunbathers and lifeguard stands.
Huntington Beach's rich history of photos began with the Newland House, the Red Car, a pleasure pier, ocean plunge, pavilion and attractions not strikingly different from today. Shortly after Huntington Beach adopted its name, an oil boom began when several veins were discovered on the land near the beach. For approximately years, the derricks, offshore platforms and pumps have dotted the terrain and appeared in the landscape of photographs. While the pumps surprisingly still sit next to houses, a hotel in the downtown region and are plentiful near the wetlands, many have been capped as the price of land goes up.
In fact, these photos bring a bleak contrast and show us what was once a state heavily fed on oil. Air View, Signal Hill, California. Brea Canyon, Photo by Orange County Archive.