THE COMMUNITY OF SAN PEDRO, annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1909, has had a long history as a place of maritime trade and commercial activity. San Pedro sits on the southeastern side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a unique outcrop of land that provides a naturally protected eastern coastline. EARLY COMMERCE In the early 1800s, along these rocky cliffs and long mudflats, cow hides and beef tallow rendered in California’s missions were exchanged for international goods. It was at this time, at the end of the 1830s, ships hand and author Richard Henry Dana referred to San Pedro in, Two Years Before the Mast, as “the hell of California.”
IDEAL LOCATION Despite Dana’s description, fifty years later, the U.S. military took an interest in San Pedro’s ideal location. Over the decades flanking the turn of the century, a strip of land tucked in the protected harbor was built up and dredged, finally becoming Fort MacArthur at the onset of World War I. NEW INDUSTRY At that time, along the San Pedro coast and on nearby Terminal Island, fishing and new efforts in canning, boat building, and longshoring set the working-class and commercial tone of the harbor area.
The long mudflats in San Pedro's inner harbor, 1916. ~ Port of Los Angeles