By DOUGLAS LOVE
Chairman of the California History Board
The Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is the fifth busiest port in the United States. It is a major hub for East Asian trade and handles millions of tons of cargo and assorted shipping a year. At one point it was also the home port of a large part of the United States Pacific Fleet and the largest fishing fleet in the United States. The fishery is gone now, as is the Navy, but the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is still active. The former Naval Shipyard on Terminal Island has been converted into one of the largest and busiest container cargo ports in the world. The Pacific Princess, also known as the “Love Boat”, was home-ported in Los Angeles/Long Beach. The port is also home to the former Cunard Liner Queen Mary, now operated as a hotel, and is the former home of Howard Hughes’ H-4 Hercules Flying Boat, better known as the “Spruce Goose.” The battleship USS Iowa is also located here.
At the foot of 6th Street, just south of the battleship USS Iowa sits a well-preserved Art Deco building. Once the Municipal Ferry Terminal for the City of Los Angeles, it is now the home of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance to the museum is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors. Children 12 and under are free.
On the first floor of the museum are exhibit areas dedicated to the Navy, commercial diving and the fishing and canning industries. Of special interest is an exhibit dedicated to the tuna fishery and to the Star Kist and Chicken of the Sea tuna brands. There is an interesting exhibit of Charlie the Tuna memorabilia including a lighter, watches and assorted jewelry. There are several models of naval vessels in the exhibit area known as “Navy Hall” and models of fishing boats.
As you walk up the former pedestrian ramp to the second floor, there are three small craft for you to examine and several more ship models. The second floor is devoted to sailing ships and 20th Century shipping. There are models of the Flying Cloud and the whaler Charles W. Morgan, as well as harpoon heads and flensing knives. The original 4th order Fresnel lens from the Angel’s Gate lighthouse is on display, as are navigational instruments, compasses and binnacles. There is a children’s play area on the second floor as well. However, the two items which are the star attractions are the model of the Poseidon used in the movie The Poseidon Adventure and a working Amateur Radio Room, K6AA. The radio room also operates marine VHF radios. That call sign is WQZ 357.
Just outside the museum is the American Merchant Marine Service Memorial, the mast, anchors and bow peak of the USS Los Angeles, a six inch gun barrel from the USS New Jersey, the Fishing Industry Memorial and the “Bloody Thursday” Memorial dedicated to the West Coast Longshoreman’s Strike of 1934.
If you are visiting the area, the Los Angeles Maritime Museum is a wonderful place to learn a bit about the contributions the Maritime Industry has and continues to make to the economy and history of California.
Getting there: The museum is located at 84 E 6th Street, San Pedro, CA. From San Francisco, take I-5 south to I-405 south to I-110 south. From I-110 south take the Harbor Boulevard exit and bear right onto Harbor Boulevard. The museum is located at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street.
For more information visit www.lamaritimemuseum.org or call (310) 548-7618.