Re-Opened After 20 Years: Tar Pits Observation Pit

Ever go there on a field trip? The fossil-cool Hancock Park is back in business.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Page Museum
    The Observation Pit at the La Brea Tar Pits re-opened on Thursday, June 19 after a 20-year closure.

    When you say "back in the day" regarding the La Brea Tar Pits, you sometimes have to clarify how exactly back-in-the-day-y you want to go.

    If you want to go way back, to the age of mammoths and giant sloths, then "back in the day"=eons.

    If you want to talk about the famous Observation Pit at the Miracle Mile fossil site, you're talking the middle of the last century, when the round-building'd excavation dig was the ultimate place to see what was emerging from the goopy methane-fragrant tar that bubbles up around the area.

    The Observation Pit was, in fact, the "first interpretive center" at the La Brea Tar Pits, even before the Page Museum.

    That pit, which is at the furtherest west point of Hancock Park before the LACMA campus, has been closed for 20 years, while other dig sites sprung up around the park. But fossil fans, many of whom remember visiting the Observation Pit on school field trips, have news to rrowr about with the re-opening of the Observation Pit and Pit 91.

    "Rrowr" being the sound a mastodon makes, of course.

    The old, old, old spot was new again at its June 19 official ceremony. But what does this mean, exactly? Special tours are ahead, and Pit 91 "will be reactivated for paleontological excavation following a seven-year hiatus."

    It's true that the largest tar pit, the one with the mammoth family at its western edge, tends to be photographed and discussed the most, at least by visitors. But other fascinating active sites exist nearby, including, once again, Pit 91 and the Observation Pit.

    What's old is new again, indeed (and indeed could be the slogan for the La Brea Tar Pits itself). We'll rrowr to that.

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