Ahhhhhhh…. A nice, breezy, colorful day in Los Angeles. As I relaxed at home I thought to myself: what’s the greenest place to visit right now? I needed to get out, get some fresh air, and put work aside for once (you all know how that is). I didn’t want to drive anywhere far, spend excessive money on typical Los Angeles attractions, and wanted to see a hint of nature in the heart of this bustling city. So, I decided to visit the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, which is next to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Fairfax and Wilshire.
I took a walk down the street, walked through the green, vertical-barred gate that was added about 10 years ago, and stepped back in time. I have been visiting this park since I was a baby, and, even though it has been significantly updated, it thankfully maintains many of the old school perks such as the banjo player. He has been playing in front of the Page Museum, where the lookout point and ice cream stand once resided, since the 1970’s. Classic — I love it.
So as not to bore you with my sentimental stories (lol), my journey shall now begin…
I started my green escapade by visiting Pit 91 at the La Brea Tar Pits. Viewing time is until mid-afternoon, so I wanted to be sure I saw the pit before closing time. The excavation pit is 28 feet in both length and width, is approximately 14 feet deep, and the excavation area is divided into 3′ square grids. According to the Page Museum’s website, during the 1998 excavation, more than 1,000 fossils were recovered, including (3) saber-toothed cat skulls, (4) dire wolf skulls, and bones from “giant ground sloths, horses, bison, coyotes, birds, rodents, and even some insect and plant fossils.” Once fossils are excavated, they’re brought to the Page Museum; only a 2-minute walk.
After a nice, serene walk my friend Sam and I arrived at the Page Museum. At last!
The Page Museum has always been a favorite place of mine, it’s just too cool. Nowhere else can you, literally, step back in time. The museum is dedicated to recreating the dinosaur age and providing specimens of thousands of prehistoric creatures. Not only are full skeletons on display, they’re set in backgrounds that resemble the earth many ages ago, which hugely bumps up the cool factor.
The museum is named after George C. Page (see below sculpture) who is a well-known philanthropist. According to the Page museum’s website, “George C. Page came to southern California because of an orange. The orange tasted so sweet to the boy in rural Nebraska that when he left home at age sixteen he headed west to the Land of Sunshine. The orange became the inspiration for Page’s first company, Mission Pak, which specialized in packaging and mailing California fruits to people in colder climates. The seasonal nature of the business enabled Page to found a successful sports car manufacturing plant and to develop industrial parks, residential areas, and other real estate projects. Page established his pattern of philanthropy over 40 years ago by building a youth center in Hawthorne, California and provided major donations to both public and private institutions. His early fascination with the unique La Brea asphalt deposits prompted him to build the innovative and spectacular museum that bears his name.”
On to the best part — ZED! As workers were digging an underground parking lot for LACMA, next to the Tar Pits, they stumbled upon an amazing thing. A very amazing thing. “The largest known deposit of fossils from the last ice age has been found in what might seem to be the unlikeliest of places — under an old May Co. parking lot in L.A.’s tony Miracle Mile shopping district.” — February 18, 2009, The LA Times. Among these fossils, a nearly intact massive Columbian mammoth was found, which has been coined “Zed.”
According to Science Daily, “When Zed was removed from the ground, his fossilized remains were encased, along with their surrounding soil, in plaster ‘jackets’ and taken to the Page Museum. In the Museum’s famous Fish Bowl laboratory paleontologists are carefully excavating the bones from these jackets in public view. Every time a jacket is opened, the fossil is meticulously cleaned and the surrounding matter—soil that is filled with thousands of tiny fossils of plants, fish, snails and other organisms—is removed and carefully studied.” Carbon dating is expected to show Zed lived between 38,000 to 42,000 years ago.
On to the coolest stuff — photos of the Page Museum including Zed…