I went to Signal Hill today to take pictures. Why? Because I do stuff like that.
Going with the noir/hardboiled detective theme, Signal Hill holds some fascination for me. Not so much by how it looks today, but because of its history. For a good part of its history as a city, it was mostly oil fields. Raymond Chandler worked for an oil company here before he became a writer. Some of his stories have incidents that happen in Signal Hill. And when I hear that line from "Double Indemnity" where Barbara Stanwyck's character says about her husband that she guesses "he's been too busy down at Long Beach in the oil fields," it makes me think of Signal Hill (which is surrounded by Long Beach), but Long Beach had oil fields too-- and also still has some oil wells here and there. Anyways...
Gradually the oil companies left, and now Signal Hill wants to go the typical suburban cookie-cutter suburban tract home and shopping center route. But a lot of oil wells still remain, of course they're no longer the towering wooden oil derricks, but the bobbing metal pump type. They're adjacent to some of the tract homes.
These two pics are of Signal Hill in 1933.
And these are pics of Signal Hill that I took today (9.18.10).
I don't think I'd like an oil well next to my backyard. Oh, please ignore the dirty black Honda.
Here's an oil well next to an old Craftsman.
Raymond Chandler probably wouldn't recognize this as Signal Hill. Signal Hill still has a strange feel to it, for some reason, at least to me. The random oil wells, maybe? Like something sinister can happen here...