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L.A.'s Oldest Tourist Trap

At Rancho La Brea, death has been the pits for millennia

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5:29pm, January 19, 2004

Cruise Los Angeles' Wilshire Boulevard and, when you reach the 5800 block, you'll often catch a whiff of fresh tar. Most likely, it won't be coming from a road or roofing crew, but you'll have a big clue to its source. On the north side of the boulevard, there's a life-size fiberglass model of a terrified mammoth stuck hip-deep in goo. The figure marks one of the world's most well-known fossil-bearing locales: the La Brea tar pits. "I certainly know when I've reached work each morning," says John Harris, a curator at the George C. Page Museum there.

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