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Mappers Count All 43,123 Swimming Pools In Los Angeles

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Dorland House in Altadena Lloyd Wright 1950 (Photo by Michael Locke via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Someone decided to create an atlas dedicated to that iconic symbol of the good life in Southern California: swimming pools.

German graphic designer Benedikt Gross told Wired he was fascinated by the pools of Los Angeles ever since he flew on a plane over the city, "I was flying in for a study trip during the first year of my Royal College of Art degree, and I saw all these swimming pools. It looked like there were millions. It was crazy."

So later he went to work with a partner Joseph Lee of MIT to find out just how many there were and what they could tell us about the landscape. The pair worked to create what eventually became The Big Atlas of LA Pools. It turned out to be pretty easy to find out where the pools were and even grab snapshots of some of the pools themselves. (Compiling all that data is another story—they outsourced some of the tedious work to a company in India.) The result is an atlas that is 6,000 pages and comes in 74 printed volumes, according to the Los Angeles Times. There's only one copy.

The pair overlaid the data with a bunch of other data sets and here's what they found:

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  • There are 43,123 pools in the L.A. Basin (unfortunately, that doesn't count the San Fernando Valley)
  • Swimming pools are a pretty good proxy for wealth: Beverly Hills has the most pools per capita and 2,481 altogether. Long Beach has 2,859 pools, while Rancho Palos Verdes has 2,592. But there are no backyard pools whatsoever in Watts or Florence
  • Registered sex offenders don't usually have pools
  • Swimming pools correlate with lower crime, but Gross surmises that might have something to do with the fact that swimming pools tend to be in wealthier areas
  • Pools in poorer neighborhoods—public pools, usually—have square edges, and the pools in richer neighborhoods have all sorts of shapes
  • The typical Los Angeles pool is shaped like an oval, and it measures 16 feet, 4 inches by 33 feet
  • Here's a spin through one of the data sets: