San Pedro is a port district of the city of Los Angeles, California. and is a major seaport of the area. The district has grown from being dominated by the fishing industry to become primarily a working class community within the city of Los Angeles.
The district is situated in a Mediterranean climate zone, experiencing mild, wet winters and warm to hot summers. Breezes from the Pacific Ocean tend to keep the beach community cooler in summer and warmer in winter than those in further inland Los Angeles; summer temperatures can sometimes be as much as 18 °F warmer in the inland communities compared to that of San Pedro and other Los Angeles coastal communities. The area also sees a phenomenon known as the “marine layer”, a dense cloud cover caused by the proximity of the ocean that helps keep the temperatures cooler throughout the year. When the marine layer lasts for days at a time and extends farther inland during the months of May and June, it is called June Gloom.
The Tongva, or Gabrielino, Indians called the San Pedro area Chaaw.
The site, at the southern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, on the west side of San Pedro Bay, was used by Spanish ships starting in the 1540s. San Pedro was named for St. Peter of Alexandria, a Fourth Century bishop in Alexandria, Egypt. His feast day is November 24 on the local ecclesiastical calendar of Spain, the day on which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered the bay in 1542 which would become San Pedro. In 1602–1603, Sebastián Vizcaíno (1548–1624) officially surveyed and mapped the California coastline, including San Pedro Bay, for New Spain.
European settlement began in 1769 as part of an effort to populate California, although trade restrictions encouraged more smuggling than regular business. Rancho San Pedro is the site of the first Spanish land grant in Alta California, New Spain. The land was granted in 1784 by King Carlos III to Juan Jose Dominguez, a retired Spanish soldier who came to California with the Gaspar de Portolà expedition.
When New Spain won its independence from the Spanish Empire and Alta California became part of Mexico, the trade restrictions were lifted, and the town flourished.
Under United States control after 1848, when the United States defeated Mexico in the Mexican-American war, the harbor was greatly improved and expanded under the guidance of Phineas Banning and John Gately Downey, the seventh governor of California after the Free Harbor Fight.
The War Department took control of a tract of land next to the bay in 1888, and became Fort MacArthur in 1914, a coastal defense site for many years.
In 1906, the City of Los Angeles annexed the Harbor Gateway, a long narrow strip of land connecting the city to the coast, and in 1909, the city annexed San Pedro and the adjacent town of Wilmington. San Pedro has now become the largest port on the West Coast of the United States and the busiest port in the country.
Points of Interest
– Vincent Thomas Bridge: a 1,500-foot long suspension bridge, linking San Pedro with Terminal Island and named after California Assemblyman Vincent Thomas. It is the third longest suspension bridge in California.
– Los Angeles Maritime Museum: the largest maritime museum in California, as is the museum ship SS Lane Victory, a fully operational victory ship of World War II and National Historic Landmark.
– “Ports O’ Call”: tourist destination built in 1963 which provides many interesting shopping venues and a host of unique waterfront eateries.
– Cabrillo Marine Aquarium: Designed by Frank Gehry, this aquarium had its origins in the old Cabrillo Beach Marine Museum which was located in the historic Bath House at Cabrillo Beach.
– Point Fermin Lighthouse: a Victorian-era structure built in the late 19th century, still exists as a museum and park on a bluff overlooking the ocean.
– Korean Bell of Friendship: a massive bronze memorial bell donated by South Korea in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles.
– The church of Mary Star of the Sea: a prominent landmark with a steeple-top statue overlooking the harbor
– San Pedro Waterfront Red Car: Opened July 19, 2003 along the waterfront between downtown San Pedro and the Cruise Ship Terminal. This line includes two newly constructed trolleys built to resemble the wood-bodied 500 class cars introduced in 1905 for the Pacific Electric Railway, which once operated more than 1,000 miles of track running streetcars and interurbans in Southern California. The 1.5-mile line operates along former Pacific Electric right-of-way. The line, rebuilt and maintained by the Port of Los Angeles, also has one original restored Pacific Electric interurban, which is used only for special charter excursions and special events. The original car is in fact Pacific Electric 963.
– Twenty-Eighth Street in San Pedro: between Gaffey Street and Peck Avenue, this is the steepest section of public roadway in Los Angeles. For about 50 feet, the street climbs at a 33.3% angle, although the rest of the street is less steep.
– “Sunken City”: just east of Point Fermin where the land literally “sunk” into the sea.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times’s “Mapping L.A.” project supplied these San Pedro neighborhood statistics: population: 78,405; median household income: $57,198. The median age is 34. 11% of the populations are veterans.
San Pedro is a Popular Filming Location
Here are some of the films that shot scenes in San Pedro:
– King Kong (1933)
– The Long Voyage Home (1940)
– Raging Bull (1980)
– Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
– Chinatown (1974)
– Private Benjamin (1980)
– Swing Shift (1984)
– Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
– Colors (1988)
– The Abyss (1989)
– The Hunt for Red October (1990)
– Boyz n the Hoold (1991)
– Clear and Present Danter (1994)
– Outbreak (1995)
– Batman & Robin (1997)
– Amistad (1997)
– Titanic (1997)
– The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
– Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
– Charlie’s Angels (2000)
– Catch Me If You Can (2002)
– 50 First Dates (2004)
– Hancock (2008)
– Fast & Furious (2009)