The Park Made of Oil: Towards a Historical Political Ecology of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Local Environment : the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Within the park-deprived inner-city landscapes of Los Angeles, an unprecedented change is underway. Long considered to be the epitome of anti-nature, Los Angeles is witnessing a boom in park development and ecological restoration. Derelict, blighted and contaminated inner city brownfield sites are being converted to greenspaces, nature parks, and wildlife refuges. Indeed, Los Angeles has been the recent recipient of hitherto unimaginable political and fiscal support to ameliorate the dearth of
... rate the dearth of parks in its neglected urban core. In this paper we situate the current round of park development within its historical context, by focusing on a very particular local site -the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Applying the theoretical lens of political ecology, we trace some of the political, economic, ecological and institutional factors from the late 1920s onwards, which engendered the creation of a park atop an oilfield. In so doing, we deepen the understanding of how local greenspace allocation, poverty, race and political power are oftentimes complexly entangled. Precursor to a much larger project currently in the planning and development stages, the creation of the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area reveals some of the ways that the Southern California oil industry has shaped nature spaces in Los Angeles.