Some wonderful old photos of Los Angeles on Twitter today


You can download that particular oil field pic as wallpaper, from National Geographic. Coulda sworn I saw a color version of that shot in a Taschen catalogue listing for their NatGeo photo book…

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I don’t even think that’s Signal Hill. I used to own a home there. For one thing, Signal Hill is quite small - just a hill in the middle of otherwise-flat Long Beach. So, no hill. That looks more like dereks out toward the beach. Signal Hill is called Signal Hill because of all the communications towers on top of it - not oil dereks.

The hill may not be visible in that pic, but the Signal Hill area, including much of the hill itself, was once covered with a forest of oil derricks. There were so many derricks that local wags took to calling it “Porcupine Hill” in the '20s.

Google Image Search: Signal Hill Oil Derricks

As for the name, Signal Hill came to be known as Signal Hill long before it had electronic comm towers.

John Rockwell of the US Coast Survey erected a signal atop the hill during the 1889-90 survey that established the Los Angeles Baseline. In 1905 he wrote in a letter:

I recognize a hill near the town on which I erected a signal and which bears the name of Signal Hill to this day.

The name became official when the city of Signal Hill was incorporated in 1924, after the discovery of oil in 1921.

The photo is most likely part of the City of Signal Hill, even though the hill itself isn’t visible.

Do you realize how very VERY few are the vantage points from which you could make any part of Signal even APPEAR to be that flat? It IS a literal hill. And yes, it’s covered in signal towers now - but there were still a couple of dereks left, even back in the 1980’s. Looks more like part of Sp or HB, to me…

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