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Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles
Country United States
Location San Pedro, Los Angeles
Coordinates [1]
Opened December 9, 1907
Size of harbor 3,200 acres (13 km2)
Land area 4,300 acres (17 km2)
Size 7,500 acres (30 km2)
Available berths 270
President Ambassador Vilma Martinez
Vice President David Arian
Commissioners Patricia Castellanos
Anthony Pirozzi, Jr.
Edward Renwick
Executive Director Gene Seroka[2]
Vessel arrivals 2,143 (CY 2013)
Annual cargo tonnage 165.1 million metric revenue tons (FY 2013)
Annual container volume 7.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) (CY 2013)
Value of cargo US$285.4 billion (CY 2013)
Passenger traffic 430,189 passengers (CY 2013)
Annual revenue US$397.4 million (FY 2013)

The Port of Los Angeles, also called America's Port, is a port complex that occupies 7,500 acres (3,000 ha) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront and adjoins the separate [5] For public safety, the Port of Los Angeles utilizes the Los Angeles Port Police for police service in the port and to its local communities and terrorism, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) to provide Fire and EMS services to the port and its local communities, the U.S. Coast Guard for water way security at the port, Homeland Security to protect federal land at the port and the Los Angeles City Lifeguards to provide lifeguarding services for inner Cabrillo Beach.


  • History 1
  • Port district 2
  • Shipping 3
  • World Cruise Center 4
  • LA Waterfront 5
    • Waterfront Red Car Line 5.1
  • Environment 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


The L.A. Harbor, 1899

In 1542, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo discovered the "Bay of Smokes."[6] The south-facing San Pedro Bay was originally a shallow mudflat, too soft to support a wharf. Visiting ships had two choices: stay far out at anchor and have their goods and passengers ferried to shore, or beach themselves. That sticky process is described in Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who was a crew member on an 1834 voyage that visited San Pedro Bay. Phineas Banning greatly improved shipping when he dredged the channel to Wilmington in 1871 to a depth of 10 feet (3.0 m). The port handled 50,000 tons of shipping that year. Banning owned a stagecoach line with routes connecting San Pedro to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Yuma, Arizona, and in 1868 he built a railroad to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles, the first in the area.

Port of Los Angeles, 1913
View of Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach from Palos Verdes

After Banning's death in 1885, his sons pursued their interests in promoting the port, which handled 500,000 tons of shipping in that year. The Southern Pacific Railroad and Collis P. Huntington wanted to create Port Los Angeles at Santa Monica and built the Long Wharf there in 1893. However, the Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis and U.S. Senator Stephen White pushed for federal support of the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro Bay. The Free Harbor Fight was settled when San Pedro was endorsed in 1897 by a commission headed by Rear Admiral John C. Walker (who later went on to become the chair of the Isthmian Canal Commission in 1904). With U.S. government support, breakwater construction began in 1899, and the area was annexed to Los Angeles in 1909. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners was founded in 1907.

In 1912 the Southern Pacific Railroad completed its first major wharf at the port. During the 1920s, the port surpassed San Francisco as the West Coast's busiest seaport. In the early 1930s, a massive expansion of the port was undertaken with the construction of a breakwater three miles out and over two miles in length. In addition to the construction of this outer breakwater, an inner breakwater was built off Terminal Island with docks for seagoing ships and smaller docks built at Long Beach.[7] It was this improved harbor that hosted the sailing events for the 1932 Summer Olympics.[8] During World War II the port was primarily used for shipbuilding, employing more than 90,000 people. In 1959, Matson Navigation Company's Hawaiian Merchant delivered 20 containers to the port, beginning the port's shift to containerization.[9] The opening of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in 1963 greatly improved access to Terminal Island and allowed increased traffic and further expansion of the port. In 1985, the port handled one million containers in a year for the first time.[6] In 2000, the Pier 400 Dredging and Landfill Program, the largest such project in America, was completed.[6][10] By 2013, more than half a million containers were moving through the Port every month.[11]

Port district

USGS Satellite picture of a portion of the Port of Los Angeles, including Pier 400, Reservation Point, and port facilities in San Pedro, March 29, 2004

The port district is an independent, self-supporting department of the government of the City of Los Angeles. The port is under the control of a five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council, and is administered by an executive director. The port maintains an AA bond rating,[12] the highest rating attainable for self-funded ports.


The port's container volume was 7.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in calendar year 2013. The port is the busiest port in the United States by container volume, the 16th-busiest container port in the world, and the 9th-busiest worldwide when combined with the neighboring Port of Long Beach. The port is also the number-one freight gateway in the United States when ranked by the value of shipments passing through it.[13] For the second consecutive year, the Port of Los Angeles experienced record-breaking exports as outbound container volumes surged in 2010 and 2011. Its top trading partners in 2013 were:

  1. China/Hong Kong ($136 billion)
  2. Japan ($40 billion)
  3. South Korea ($16 billion)
  4. Taiwan ($12 billion)
  5. Vietnam ($11 billion)

The most-imported types of goods in the 2013 calendar year were, in order: furniture, automobile parts, apparel, electronic products, and footwear.

During the 2002 West Coast port labor lockout, the port had a large backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded at any given time. Many analysts believe that the port's traffic may have exceeded its physical capacity as well as the capacity of local freeway and railroad systems. The chronic congestion at the port caused ripple effects throughout the American economy, such as disrupting just-in-time inventory practices at many companies.

The port is served by the Pacific Harbor Line (PHL) railroad. From the PHL, intermodal railroad cars go north to Los Angeles via the Alameda Corridor.

In 2011, no American port could handle ships of the PS-class Emma Mærsk and the future Maersk Triple E class size,[14] the latter of which needs cranes reaching 23 rows.[15] In 2012, the port and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deepened the port's main navigational channel to 53 feet, which is deep enough to accommodate the draft of the world's biggest container ships.[16][17] However, Maersk had no plans in 2014 to bring those ships to America.[18]

World Cruise Center

Norwegian Star at the World Cruise Center.
China Shipping Alternative Maritime Power(AMP™) under the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Catalina Express high speed catamaran, and Diamond Princess docked at the World Cruise Center.

Located in the San Pedro District beneath the Vincent Thomas Bridge, The Port of Los Angeles hosts recreational transportation with the largest cruise ship terminal on the West Coast of the United States. The Port's World Cruise Center has three passenger ship berths transporting over 1 million passengers annually. It is claimed to be "the nation's most secure cruise passenger complex". Its vast 2,560-space long-term parking lot is patrolled continuously by port security. Courtesy shuttles transport passengers with their luggage between the parking lot and the terminal complex on arrival and departure days. The cruise center accommodates a wide variety of transportation, including rental car, tour bus, limousine and taxi services. It is linked to the waterfront attractions USS Iowa Museum and Los Angeles Maritime Museum by a pedestrian promenade featuring public art and fountains, as well as connections to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and other San Pedro attractions using the Waterfront Red Car trolley/shuttle.

The Queen Mary 2 is the largest cruise ship ever to sail from Los Angeles.[19]

LA Waterfront

The LA Waterfront[20] is a visitor-serving destination in the city of Los Angeles, funded and maintained by the Port of Los Angeles. In 2009, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the San Pedro Waterfront and Wilmington Waterfront development programs, under the LA Waterfront umbrella. The LA Waterfront consists of a series of waterfront development and community enhancement projects covering more than 400 acres of existing Port of Los Angeles property in both San Pedro and Wilmington. With miles of public promenade and walking paths, acres of open space and scenic views, the LA Waterfront attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Waterfront Red Car Line

The Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line is a 1.5-mile vintage trolley line for public transit along the waterfront in San Pedro. [21] It uses vintage and restored Pacific Electric Red Cars to connect the World Cruise Center, Downtown San Pedro, Ports O' Call Village, and the San Pedro Marina. [21] [22] [23]


The port's shipping volume comes with a cost: air pollution. Container ships burning low-quality bunker fuel idle dockside because most have no capability to connect to shore-generated electricity. Diesel-powered semi-trailer trucks and locomotives idle while waiting to be loaded and unloaded. Truck, ship, and rail pollution coming from the ports were the largest source of air pollution in Southern California in 2006.[24] The local air quality regulatory agency conducted a study that found that air pollution from the port was responsible for 2,000 cases of cancer per million people (25 per million is the upper limit sought by regulators ). The 47 tons of nitrogen oxides generated daily by port marine vessels nearly equals the amount emitted by the 350 largest factories and refineries in the region, and that number is expected to increase 70% by 2022 .

The $2.8 million San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Program (CAAP) initiative was implemented by the Board of Harbor Commissioners in October 2002 for terminal and ship operations programs targeted at reducing polluting emissions from vessels and cargo handling equipment . To accelerate implementation of emission reductions through the use of new and cleaner-burning equipment, the port has allocated more than $52 million in additional funding for the CAAP through 2008.

The port installed the first Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) berth in 2004 and can provide up to 40 MW of grid power to two cruise ships simultaneously at both 6.6 kV and 11 kV, as well as three container terminals, reducing pollution from ship engines.[25]

In an effort to buffer the nearby community of Wilmington from the port, in June 2011 the Wilmington Waterfront Park was opened.[26][27]

See also


  1. ^ "Port of Los Angeles".  
  2. ^ Lopez, Ricardo (11 June 2014) "Gene Seroka named Port of Los Angeles executive director" Los Angeles Times
  3. ^ "World Port Rankings - 2005" - Port Industry Statistics - American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) - Updated May 1, 2007 - (Microsoft Excel*.XLS document)
  4. ^ "North American Port Container Traffic - 2006" - Port Industry Statistics - American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) - Updated May 14, 2007 - (Adobe Acrobat*.PDF document)
  5. ^ FAQ # 22 at the Port of Los
  6. ^ a b c Sowinski, L., Portrait of a Port, World Trade Magazine, February 2007, p. 32
  7. ^ "Big Harbor Three Miles At Sea" Popular Science, December 1931, illustration of harbor and port improvements
  8. ^ 1932 Summer Olympics official report. pp. 76, 78, 585.
  9. ^ Cuevas, Antonio (2007-12-09). "Seaport's Legacy Drives Its Future". Los Angeles Times. pp. U6. 
  10. ^ [2] Archived September 6, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Chinn, Kay (15 October 2013). "L.A. Port Numbers Down From Last Year". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Fitch Rates Port of Los Angeles Harbor, CA's Rev Bonds 'AA'; Outlook Stable" (Press release). Fitch Ratings. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Top 25 U.S. Freight Gateways, Ranked by Value of Shipments: 2008". U.S. Department of Transportation. 2009. 
  14. ^ Frank Pope. "Bigger, cleaner, slower – the new giants of the seas" Mirror&Archive The Times, February 22, 2011. Accessed: 6 December 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Emma Maersk"ABS Record: . American Bureau of Shipping. 23 July 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  17. ^ "Largest container ship will be 16% larger and 20% less CO2and 35% more fuel efficient". Next Big Future. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Karen Robes Meeks. Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles invest millions to accommodate ships, 2014
  19. ^ "Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center Facilities". Port of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  20. ^ LA Waterfront website
  21. ^ a b websiteWaterfront Red Car LinePort of Los Official
  22. ^ POLA Waterfront Red Car Line - with map
  23. ^ Port of LA Waterfront Red Car Line
  24. ^ Sowinski, Lara L. Chalk One Up for Another Successful Peak Season World Trade WT100, 1 October 2006. Accessed: 1 October 2011.
  25. ^ Philips, Peter. Los Angeles Port Now Providing Shore-Side Power to Three Cruise Lines Pacific Maritime, 1 March 2011. Accessed: 1 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Wilmington Waterfront Park". Port of Los Angeles. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  27. ^ Landers, Jay (July 2011). "Los Angeles creates park to provide buffer between port, community". Civil Engineering Magazine: 27–30. 

Further reading

  • Vickery, Oliver (1979). Harbor heritage: tales of the harbor area of Los Angeles, California. Mountain View, Calif.: Morgan Press/Farag.  

External links

  • Official website
  • Panoramic photographs of Los Angeles Harbor, taken in 1908 and 1926, The Bancroft Library

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