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The Port of Los Angeles is poised to pass a Master Plan Update that does not provide a path forward for preservation. This leaves the few remaining vestiges of our region’s rich maritime history at Terminal Island at risk.
Read the Conservancy's comments on the Port Master Plan Update and Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PDF)
Read the National Trust for Historic Preservation's comments on the Port Master Plan Update and Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PDF)
|Please click on the image for details and citation information.
Read the Conservancy's testimony before the Harbor Commission on April 4 (PDF)
While a good steward of many historic resources, the Port of Los Angeles has established an ongoing pattern of needlessly demolishing historic buildings at Terminal Island.
The most pressing threat is the Port Master Plan Update, in part based on the Terminal Island Land Use Plan, a plan that was not adopted but has served as a framework for how growth and development will occur in the future.
It is essential that both the Terminal Island Land Use Plan and Port Master Plan Update include adaptive reuse options for Terminal Island's historic buildings. As it stands now, the Land Use Plan proposes demolishing several buildings on Terminal Island to make way for new roadway realignments. The draft of the Port Master Plan Update designates land uses which are incompatible with the preservation and reuse of historic buildings. Neither plan provides the necessary flexibility to ensure that Terminal Islands’ historic buildings can, let alone will be adaptively reused.
The Port is also actively seeking demolition of portions of the Al Larson Boat Shop Complex, and had up until recently also proposed demolition of Canner's Steam Plant. Other buildings on Terminal Island suffer from neglect due to long-term vacancy.
While the Conservancy supports planning and looking to the future, we are very concerned that the preservation of remaining historic buildings at Terminal Island remains a low priority.
Thank you to those who attended the public workshops on the Port of Los Angeles Master Plan Update. The strong support for preservation at the Port and Terminal Island came through loud and clear! We look forward to working with the Port as development of the Master Plan continues in spring 2013.
More about the threat to Terminal Island
Vast Range of Significance
For most Angelinos, Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles is little known, today an altered landscape of acres of cargo containers and towering cranes. Even fewer have experienced this place during its heyday, prior to World War II.
Terminal Island. Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/Conservancy staff.
Threatened historic resources make up only three percent of Terminal Island’s total acreage, yet the island reflects a surprisingly rich and varied history in several key areas:
- It housed a vibrant Japanese-American community of nearly 3,000 residents, who were the first in the nation to be forcibly removed from their homes and interned during World War II.
- It played a crucial role in both World Wars as a major shipbuilding center, setting world records for speedy delivery to support the war effort.
- It launched a worldwide tuna canning industry that made tuna-fish a staple of American households and fostered L.A.’s growth as a major industrial hub—a tuna even appears on the official seal of Los Angeles County.
Terminal Island has also gained Hollywood acclaim as a popular filming location, dating back to 1949, when it appeared in the film noir classic Criss Cross starring Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo. In more recent years, it has served as the setting for television series including 24, True Blood, Dexter, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Entourage, and the films Spider-Man, Charlie's Angels, Live Free or Die Hard, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, among many others.
The Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation want to work with the Port to make sure the proposed land use plan and an updated Port master plan save the historic buildings and promote their reuse, while ensuring public access and attracting new tenants to the historic Port.
Map of Historic Sites on Terminal Island (not to scale) - for details, see At a Glance
L.A.’s Track Record with America’s 11 Most Endangered Places
In June 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Los Angeles’ Terminal Island to its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Other sites in Greater Los Angeles have appeared on the prestigious National Trust list, including the Century Plaza Hotel (listed in 2009), Ennis House (listed in 2005), Santa Anita Racetrack (listed in 2000), former Cathedral of St. Vibiana (listed in 1997), the world’s Oldest Surviving McDonald’s (listed in 1994), and the 710 Freeway extension in South Pasadena/El Sereno (listed in 1989-93).
All of these sites still stand today, and we look forward to partnering with the National Trust to ensure the same for Terminal Island.
“Terminal Island presents an incredible opportunity to transform a vital piece of America’s industrial past for new uses, while also preserving an important part of our nation’s cultural history,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We look forward to working with our partners to ensure that Terminal Island continues to thrive as a center of commerce in Los Angeles, and that its role in American history is preserved for future generations.”
How You Can Help
At a Glance
Taking Tuna Mainstream
Port as Steward