The La Brea Tar Pits

‘A story of extinction.’ La Brea Tar Pits recognized as a geological heritage site by the U.S. Department of Interior in 2010. Photograph by Darryl K. Knigge.

As far as La Brea Tar Pits are concerned, there are only a few left to see. As I drove up the drive to the museum and museum headquarters in the late afternoon of April 10, the only signs of the tar pits that now sit under the hot Los Angeles sun were the occasional remains of the original earthwork structures like the ones I’ve been looking at in the parking lot, which had given way to the modern parking lot.

The parking lot was empty as I walked across the parking lot to the museum entry, where the museum and museum staff were setting up for their April 11 opening. While driving down the gravel parking lot, I passed out several thousand photographs of the tar pits, which were arranged in order by date. There were all sorts of tar pits from as far back as the 1940s. And I could hardly believe the photos and the information we were providing: that these strange prehistoric features were not only a geological heritage site but a world heritage site and were on the National Register of Historic Places. The photographs themselves were as much a mystery to me as the tar pits themselves. And I didn’t understand why it was so hard to find the photos in the museum or why the museum couldn’t explain why it didn’t have all these photos on display.

But I was pleased with the museum staff and its openness to the public. The staff members told me that they were very excited about the day’s visitors and were especially excited about the tar pits being part of a world heritage site. They also told me that the museum would do a series of presentations to introduce people to the tar pits and their significance. And that the staff was very open to questions. There was even a question period where people could ask questions.

This was all a first for me. I had been a person I felt like it would be okay to ask questions, but I was a nervous

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