Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills

John wanted to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. As we arrived near the museum we noticed signs along the boulevard proclaiming this area as the "Miracle Mile". John later learned, at the museum, that in the early 1900s this road was once an unpaved farm road. A developer got the idea that he wanted to build stores in this area to rival downtown Los Angeles. The plan was for this shopping district to attract the automotive traffic rather than pedestrian buyers. I chose to walk the boulevard rather than spend my time in a museum looking at old cars and learning about the development of the car industry in Los Angeles. Below is a picture of a busy street corner in Beverly Hills. The road seemed to have a combination of high rise buildings as well as many small shops and restaurants.
The more upscale shops of Beverly Hills are located a couple miles west of this area on Rodeo Drive. Not too long after I started walking east on Wilshire I could smell the tar pits. These pits have bubbling tar in them, and Pit 91 is our country's only urban fossil excavation site. The asphalt beds trapped and preserved prehistoric plant and animal life.The pits are fenced off so it was difficult to obtain a good picture of them.
There is a museum near the pits which displays the fossils and also visitors can view how they are cleaned, identified and catalogued in the paleontological laboratory. More than three million fossils have been recovered. Again, the idea of being in a museum on a sunny day did not appeal to me. I wandered around  the tar pits and a Pleistocene Garden near them. From there I walked to the Los Angeles County Art Museum. Below is one of the sculptures located on the grounds of the museum. The head of a hare stares over the beautifully landscape gardens.
 Most intriguing to me was the 120 cast-iron street lamps located on Wilshire Boulevard in front of the art museum.The artist, Chris Burden, collected these lamps from Los Angeles and adjacent cities. According to him the artwork, called Urban Light,  "ultimately is a statement about what constitutes a civil and sophisticated city after dark, safe and beautiful to behold". It was fortunate that when I took a picture of it the lights had just been turned on. Quite a few people seemed to be fascinated with wandering between the rows of lights. Maybe being under the lights gives them a feeling of nostalgia for a bygone era.

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