From Southern California, public radio for your eyes.

The LA Swimmer — 43123 Pools I Have Not Visited and Never Will

Have you ever wondered how many swimming pools are in Los Angeles?

Researchers Benedikt Groß and Joseph K. Lee teamed up to count them — all 43,123 of them. In the 20-minute video above, the two take us on a silent Google Street View tour of them all.

Listen to an interview with Joseph K. Lee on KPCC's Off-Ramp.

Groß and  Lee  have also turned their findings into "The Big Atlas of L.A. Pools," a 6,000-page index of the county's backyard harbors.

How did they do it? 

The two pulled aerial images of L.A. from the National Agriculture Imagery Program and sent them to India, where workers traced out each pool in the aerial images.

Groß and Lee then double-checked the tracing, looking for pools that might have been missed or blue shapes like roofs that were mistakenly counted.

The researchers and workers in India went through several rounds of this meticulous retracing, including double-checking the vectors against Bing satellite photos.

Eventually Groß and Lee ended up with neighborhood maps like this:

Their catalog pages list all pools by postal address. Each listing breaks down the individual pool's features, including area, dimensions, water evaporation levels, parcel price and the neighborhood's crime stats.

LA's 43,123 swimming pools, by the numbers:

  • There are 43,123 swimming pools and other manmade water boundaries in the Los Angeles area
  • The average size of each: 16' 4" by 3' 6"
  • The average shape: oval
  • City with the most pools per capita: Beverly Hills with 2,481 pools
  • City with the most pools overall: Long Beach with 2,859 pools
  • Cities without any backyard pools: Watts and Florence
  • Not many sex offenders live in places with swimming pools

Benedikt Groß and Joseph K. Lee's research stretches over 74 books and have published one printed set. They've spent $3,700 thus far on the project.


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