The State Park in the Oil Field
Los Angeles is probably the only city in the world where you can eat a picnic lunch at a state park in the middle of the city that is also in the middle of an oil field.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, is one of two state parks bordering on the Inglewood Oil Field, the largest oil field in Los Angeles. Hahn Park borders the oil field to the northeast and is built on land that was once part of the active oil field. The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is the other and it is on the northwest end of the oil field. Baldwin Hill Scenic Overlook is best known for the long staircase leading to the top known as the Culver City Stairs.
Both parks are known as offering some of the most incredible views of Los Angeles to be found (with plenty of oil pump jacks included) but Kenneth Hahn Park is much more of a typical park including picnic tables, a stream and some waterfalls. The 401 acre park is one of the largest urban parks and regional open spaces in the Greater Los Angeles Area. It was established in 1984.
The reason for such a vast amount of open space is two-fold. The steep terrain made development impractical, so development occurred around it. The other was the presence of the massive Inglewood Oil Field.
Development of the park as a park dates back to 1977 when Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn convinced Vice President Walter Mondale to reuse the land, from former oil-drilling sites, for a public open space park. Since its opening the park has been expanded as adjacent oil wells have ‘dried up’ and the oil field land cleaned up and acquired.
While the idea of having a nature park within or adjacent to an active oil field sounds contradictory, the two seem to exist quite harmoniously. With over 100 picnic tables, the park is a destination for picnics and family gatherings. It also has four playgrounds, a half basketball court, a multi-purpose field, and a sand volleyball court. Garden areas include a Japanese garden with a stream and waterfall. There is a lake for fishing, stocked monthly with trout or catfish, depending on the weather season.
Hahn Park offers walking and hiking trails with some of the area’s best scenic vistas. From it you can see the Hollywood Sign to the north, Downtown Los Angeles to the east, the Santa Ana Mountains and Los Angeles Harbor to the south and the Santa Monica Bay and LAX to the west.
Like most locations in Los Angeles, Kenneth Hahn Park has appeared in several movies. The most memorable to me is the scene in the movie Swordfish where we see Halle Berry driving up the dusty dirt road to the trailer where Hugh Jackman was living in on an oil field.
Visit the park at 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard (Los Angeles, CA 90056) in Baldwin Hills. There is an off ramp on La Cienega marked Kenneth Hahn Park.