Researchers went off the deep end and counted the swimming pools in Los Angeles.
Their findings show that anyone who perceives the area as one big paradise of concrete holes and chlorine is all wet. For example, the well-to-do Beverly Hills has 2,481 backyard pools, while the economically disadvantaged neighborhood of Watts has none, according to the unusual study.
"It is clear that pools are a pretty binary way of indicating those that 'have' and 'have-not' and we've now mapped how that plays out over the diverse economic landscape of L.A.," one of the researchers, Joseph K. Lee, told The Huffington Post.
Lee, a UCLA graduate who plans to be a geographer, worked with graphic designer Benedikt Gross, of Germany, to compile the "Big Atlas of L.A. Pools" in a tidy 6,000 pages over 74 printed volumes. (Sorry, there's only one copy.)
They gathered much of their data through widely available aerial images and had much of it analyzed by workers in India, Lee said.
Among the more than 43,000 pools they tallied in the L.A. Basin, the average size was about 16 by 33 feet. Beverly Hills had the most pools per capita. In terms of raw numbers, both Long Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes had Beverly Hills beat, with 2,859 and 2,592 pools respectively. (The count excluded much of the sprawling San Fernando Valley and parts of some other neighborhoods that were included in the study but weren't totally covered by the aerial research, Lee notes in a disclaimer.)
At the other end of the spectrum, the south L.A. neighborhoods of Florence and Rancho Dominguez joined Watts with zero pools.
SCROLL FOR FULL BREAKDOWN BY AREA
"It would be neat if these neighborhoods (presumably poorer neighborhoods) without a massive amount of pools would get some award for water savings for the region," Lee, now pursuing a Master of Science in geography at the University of British Columbia, wrote to HuffPost. "I recognize that not having pools may not necessarily be a choice and rather an artifact of socio-economic factors, land use planning, and history, but in a way, it seems that at least in the perspective of water resources, these neighborhoods save L.A. a lot of water. In the end, I think its important to recognize that these disparities exist."
So why did Lee and Gross dive in to the quirky study? On a whim. Upon flying into L.A. for the first time, Gross was "mesmerized" by the pools below, the L.A. Times reported. He later ran into Lee at an MIT research lab for urban living and discovered that Lee shared the same fascination. So they floated the idea of counting the pools and eventually followed through.
Their companion video -- a silent peek at backyard pools across L.A. -- can be seen above. Take a look at the list below to see the breakdown of pools by area.
If you're looking for more visual details on the atlas, check out the videos below.