The Port of Long Beach is located in Los Angeles County, California, and it is the second largest city in the LA metropolitan area about nine kilometers east-northeast of the Port of Los Angeles and about 90 kilometers northwest of the Port of San Diego. Lying on the shores of San Pedro Bay, the Port of Long Beach is connected to Los Angeles harbor by the Los Cerritos Channel, and it is one of the world's busiest ports. In 2006, over 472 thousand people lived in the Port of Long Beach, and almost 13 million people lived in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area.
The City of Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach - and the Los Angeles River (upper left) with its mouth at San Pedro Bay. Taken 15 January 2007
Photo by Ron Reiring
The Port of Long Beach economy is diverse, with manufacturing, services, oil refining, food processing, and marine research as its dominant sectors. The Port of Long Beach's largest employers include Boeing, Gulfstream Aerospace, and Verizon. There are also several major hospitals in the Port of Long Beach that employ thousands of people. Government and educational institutions are also important employers in the Port of Long Beach. The Monster Garage cable TV show is filmed in the Port of Long Beach, and Jesse James' West Coast Choppers is located there.
Humans have inhabited the Port of Long Beach area of southern California for over ten thousand years, and the Long Beach site has been home to different cultures for centuries.
When the Spanish arrived at the future Port of Long Beach in the 16th Century, they found the Tongva people's three settlements. Ahwaanga and Povuu'nga were coastal villages, and Tevaaxa'anga was located inland near the Los Angeles River. By the middle 19th Century, European diseases, political upheaval, and Spanish missions had forced the Tongva to leave the area of the Port of Long Beach.
Spain's King Carlos III granted Rancho Los Nietos to soldier Manuel Nieto in 1784. These Port of Long Beach lands were later divided into the Rancho Los Cerritos and the Rancho Los Alamitos. These two ranches made up much of what is now known as Long Beach. After the Los Angeles River boundary changed due to flooding, disputes over land ownership in the Port of Long Beach area continued for many years.
In 1843, newcomer Jonathan Temple bought Rancho Los Cerritos and built the Los Cerritos Ranch House, which is a National Historic Landmark today. Temple built a thriving cattle ranch and became the richest man in the region. His ranch house was important to the area during the Mexican-American War.
In 1866, Temple sold his ranch to a sheep-raising company from northern California that selected Jotham Bixby to manage ranch. Buying into the ranch, Bixby formed the Bixby Land Company (he is known as the "Father of Long Beach"). By the 1870s, Bixby kept up to 30 thousand sheep at the ranch that produced wool for trade. In 1880, he sold 1.6 thousand hectares of the land to a hopeful developer. When the development failed, the Long Beach Land and Water Company, a Los Angeles syndicate, purchased the land. In 1888, they incorporated Port of Long Beach as a city.
While Jotham Bixby was building his ranch and business in what would become the Port of Long Beach, his cousin John W. Bixby was building an empire as well. He formed a group that purchased Rancho Los Alamitos and introduced new farming methods to the Port of Long Beach area. He also began to develop the oceanfront property on the ranch.
In 1899, construction began on the Port of Long Beach's San Pedro Bay breakwater. Ten years later, the Los Angeles Dock and Terminal Company began to develop Long Beach harbor when they bought 48 hectares of mudflats at the mouth of the Los Angeles River that eventually became the inner harbor of the Port of Long Beach. The Port of Long Beach was established in 1911.
In 1911, the State of California granted the tidelands to the Port of Long Beach in trust for the people of California, specifying that the tidelands and revenues from them had to be used for harbor commerce, fisheries, marine recreation, and navigation. That year, the SS Iaqua unloaded 280 feet of redwood lumber at the municipal pier.
The Los Angeles Dock and Terminal Company declared bankruptcy in 1916 and turned over their projects to the City of Long Beach, which then completed dredging the channels and turning basin. In 1917, the Port of Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners was created to supervise harbor operations.
Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Eleventh Naval District. Office of the Commandant. (09/18/1947)
Photo by National Archives and Records Administration
By 1926, the Port of Long Beach won deep water port status. It welcomed more than 800 vessels and handled over a million tons of cargo. In 1928, the Port of Long Beach began to build more piers, wharves, and port facilities. The Municipal Wharf, Pier One, was built, and Piers A and B were started in the outer harbor.
The Federal River and Harbor Act authorized the building of a 5.6-kilometer extension to the Port of Long Beach's San Pedro Bay breakwater in 1930. In 1931, the City Charter was amended to create a Board of Harbor Commissioners, a Harbor District, and a Harbor Department. In 1936, oil was discovered in the Port of Long Beach harbor, and the first oil well brought new oil revenues to the city and port by 1938.
During the first half of the 20th Century, the Port of Long Beach was home to a large Japanese-American community. The people worked on Terminal Island in the fish canneries and on small truck farms. In 1942, however, the Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents of the Port of Long Beach were moved to internment camps during World War II. Few returned to the Port of Long Beach after the end of the war.
In 1943, more than a hundred oil wells in the Port of Long Beach harbor produced 17 thousand barrels a day, bringing $10 million in oil revenues to the city and Port of Long Beach each year. However, by 1945, the consequences of oil extraction had become a major concern for the Port of Long Beach.
Photo by Department of Energy, US Government
In 1943, the US Naval Dry Docks were established at the Port of Long Beach to maintain and repair tankers, cargo ships, destroyers, cruisers, and troop transports during World War II. In 1945, the dry docks employed more than 16 thousand civilians. Also in 1945, it became the Long Beach Naval Shipyard (NSY) in 1948. Over the years, the Port of Long Beach NSY boasted several major accomplishments including projects supporting programs like SEALAB, POSEIDON, and POLARIS. The Port of Long Beach NSY closed in 1997.
In 1946, the Port of Long Beach became "America's most modern port" when the first clear-span transit sheds were completed at Pier F. Pierpoint Landing opened on Pier F in 1948 and quickly became the world's biggest sport-fishing operation, receiving more than two million fishers per year.
By 1957, shifting of the surface downwards (subsidence) due to oil and gas exploitation caused over four thousand hectares in the north harbor to sink by as much as seven meters. Operation Big Squirt began in 1960 and stopped the subsidence problem.
In 1967, the Port of Long Beach bought the world-famous British trans-Atlantic liner, the Queen Mary, and moored in the harbor as a maritime museum, hotel, and conference center adjoining the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment center.
In 1973, the Port of Long Beach was awarded the Environmental "E" Award by the American Association of Port Authorities for its efforts to protect and improve the environment. The Port of Long Beach was the first harbor in the Western Hemisphere to receive this award. In 1974, the United States Department of Commerce recognized the Port of Long Beach with the E-Star Award for its efforts to encourage and facilitate exports.
From the early 1980s until the early 1990s, the Port of Long Beach displayed Howard Hughes' historic Spruce Goose airplane before it was moved to Portland, Oregon. The huge building that held the plane then became a movie studio.
In 1994, the Port of Long Beach signed an operating agreement with the Port of Los Angeles and the Santa Fe, Pacific and Union Pacific railroads to operate a 32-kilometer train and truck expressway from the ports to the transcontinental rail yards in Los Angeles.
In 1998, the non-profit Aquarium of the Pacific opened in the downtown Port of Long Beach. Over 13 million people have visited the aquarium since then, and it has been ranked the number two family destination in Los Angeles, second to Disneyland, by the Zagat U.S. Family Travel Guide. The Aquarium was the first museum, zoo, or aquarium to become a Climate Action Leader for voluntarily addressing green house gas emissions.