Baldwin Hills Dam Failure Site

1541 A large grassy basin in Kenneth Hahn Park is the former bowl of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir. A significant dam failure and flood occurred here in December 1963, when a hole appeared in the face of the Baldwin Hills Dam, a 230 foot tall dam holding a 19 acre reservoir with close to 300 million gallons of water in it. Within a few hours the hole grew into a crack in the dam face, and the contents of the reservoir suddenly spilled into Culver City, washing away 65 homes, and killing 5 people, before the water dissipated into Ballona Creek. The entire event was captured by television cameras, including a live telecast from a news helicopter circling above the dam as it broke way. Subsequent studies suggest that the dam failed because of ground subsidence that was caused by oil extraction, as the site sits atop the Inglewood Oil Field, heavily pumped since the 1920s. The Baldwin Hills Reservoir, part of a network of drinking water reservoirs built around Los Angeles by the DWP, was not rebuilt. It is now a grassy basin in Kenneth Hahn Park. Portions of the dam are discernable on the north end of the bowl.