A Timeline of Landmarks and Milestones
1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers the “Bay of Smokes.” Little did he know that the desolate tidal flats would be transformed into one of the busiest and most successful manmade harbors in the world. Tidal flats and marshes remained pristine for more than 200 years largely because Europe was concentrating its New World colonization on America's East Coast.
1857: Wilmingtonis founded by Phineas Banning, “Father of the Los Angeles Harbor,” and named after his hometown in Delaware. Wilmington became annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1906 and officially joined the City of Los Angeles in 1909.
1907: Port of Los Angeles is officially founded with the creation of the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners.
1911-12: First 8500-foot section of the breakwater is completed with rocks quarried from Catalina Island. The Main Channel is widened to 800 feet and dredged to -30 feet. Southern Pacific Railroad completes its first major wharf in San Pedro.
1913: Angels Gate Lighthouse is built on the east end of the breakwater. It stands 73-feet high and over the years has endured a raging five-day storm, mountainous waves and an errant steamship that struck the jetty below. Besides a slight tilt, the lighthouse has survived this type of treacherous weather and accidents unscathed. The lighthouse was automated in 1973, thus eliminating the need for keepers. Mariners entering Angels Gate are guided by the lighthouse's rotating green light, the only green light in a lighthouse along the West Coast.
1914: Panama Canal opens. As the nearest major American port northwest of the Panama Canal, the Port of Los Angeles becomes the natural port-of-call for most transpacific and coastal users.
1932: Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse opens. The Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse is a fixture in the San Pedro community. In the days before everyone had automobiles, people from the inner city would travel to the beach by Pacific Electric Red Car and patronize the Bathhouse, where they could pick up a swimsuit and a towel for a 10-cent rental fee and enjoy a day at the beach.
1945: The Fishermen’s Fiesta is held shortly after the end of World War II and saluted the largest fishing industry in the nation at the time. It drew such crowds that by the 1950s it rivaled the Tournament of the Roses Parade as an annual attraction. It eventually became so large, commercial and unmanageable that it was cancelled twice, but revived in 1981 on a much smaller scale. It has since been discontinued.
1961: Ports O’ Call Restaurant opens alongside the Main Channel, the first unit in what would become a picturesque village complex of shops and restaurants.
1963: Ports O’ Call Village, Los Angeles’ New England-style fishing village, opens along the Main Channel as a unique seaside plaza featuring souvenir and gift shops, along with popular and one-of-a-kind restaurants, tempting sweetshops, fish markets and quick-bite eateries.
1963: Vincent Thomas Bridge, the third largest suspension bridge in California opens. The four-lane toll bridge connects San Pedro to Terminal Island. The bridge is named after Assemblyman Vincent Thomas in recognition of his dedicated work for passing legislation that enabled the development of the bridge.
1980: The Los Angeles Maritime Museum opens at what was formerly a municipal ferry building which closed after the Vincent Thomas Bridge was built.
1981: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, an educational, recreational, and research facility promoting knowledge and conservation of the marine life of Southern California, expands and moves to its current facility at Cabrillo Beach.
1983: Port completes dredging of the Main Channel to -45 feet to accommodate larger ships.
1985: Port handles 1 million TEUs in a year for the first time. Four years later, container traffic exceeded 2 million TEUs.
1986: Port opens the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, an on-dock rail facility, providing for the rapid transfer of containers from the Port's marine terminals to trains and out to the rest of the country.
1994: Dredging for Piers 300/400 begins, the largest capital improvement undertaking of any U.S. seaport, and the Port's most ambitious development project since its founding.
1996: The Los Angeles City Council designates the Vincent Thomas Bridge as the City’s Official Welcoming Monument.
2002: The world’s largest proprietary container terminal, Pier 400 opens at the Port. Pier 400 is a nearly 500-acre complex, with a 40-acre on-dock rail facility containing 12 loading tracks, each capable of handling 8 rail cars.
2005: The Vincent Thomas Bridge officially lights up the harbor with its new and distinctive blue LED lights. Hundreds gathered on January 30 to witness the inaugural lighting of the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
2006: The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach jointly release the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. This historic plan aims to reduce emissions from port operations by 50 percent over five years.
2007: The Port of Los Angeles celebrates its Centennial Anniversary!