How many swimming pools are there in Los Angeles? That’s the big question that two academics pondered and decided to solve, according to this Los Angeles Times piece:
A year later, the result is the “Big Atlas of L.A. Pools,” a digital analysis of every swimming pool in the Los Angeles Basin. Using complex computer mapping, they counted 43,123 between the Hollywood Hills and San Pedro, from pools shaded by leaf-covered pergolas in Santa Monica to ones surrounded by chain-link fences in Alhambra.
Along the way, they discovered something more than just the real-world versions of the iconic David Hockney pool utopias. Their project also proved that two non-experts were able to take a massive amount of freely available data to peek into other people’s lives.
Some interesting statistics:
Their research, which fills 6,000 pages in 74 printed volumes, concludes that the typical swimming pool in Los Angeles is oval-shaped and measures 16 feet, 4 inches by 33 feet, 6 inches, though there are numerous oddly shaped pools squeezed into backyards.
The atlas found that Beverly Hills has 2,481 — the highest per capita in the region. Long Beach boasts 2,859 pools, Rancho Palos Verdes 2,592. They could not come up with a total for the city of Los Angeles, because their count left out the San Fernando Valley, although the Brentwood section of the city has 1,920.
But two other Los Angeles neighborhoods have no backyard pools at all: Watts and Florence. Of the four public pools in area parks, three were apparently closed for the season and empty when the satellite photo was taken, said Catarah Hampshire, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Yes, the ease of data access is unnerving. But you know what else is great? The byline associated with the piece. Great work.
Also worth seeing is the researchers’s voyeuristic take on the swimming pools in this video titled “The LA Swimmer”: