Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October in San Pedro

October in San Pedro


01 October:


1846: The San Pedro campaign of the Mexican-American War begins when Commodore Robert F. Stockton dispatches Captain William Mervine to San Pedro on the 1st class frigate Savannah (175 feet long, 45 foot beam, maximum draft 22.8 feet, crew 480, launched 1841, cost $399,066--comparable to $3.48 billion 2009 dollars using the relative share of GDP index) to aid Brevet Captain Archibald H. Gillespie; Gillespie’s detail arrives in San Pedro on the same day after being expelled from Los Angeles.


1910: The Los Angeles Times building in LA on 1st and Broadway is dynamited by terrorists; 21 killed, over 100 injured; national labor movement outraged by the arrest of unionists, then demoralized by their confession and conviction; dynamite may have been smuggled into San Pedro from San Francisco

1982: Fort MacArthur placed on inactive status


2009: LA Board of Harbor Commissioners approves the 10-year, $1.2 billion, 400 acre, San Pedro Waterfront project (after 10 years of planning)

02 October:

1858: Southeaster causes extensive damage to Banning’s outer harbor facilities; boat destroyed, barge and wharf damaged; Banning moves all operations to his new wharf in Wilmington (aka, New San Pedro)


1953: 1st successful mainland to Catalina cross channel swim; Jose Cortinas, 32 hours: 10 minutes: 52 seconds

05 October:


1958: 1st successful double crossing channel swim; Greta Anderson, Catalina to Mainland: 10:49:41; Mainland to Catalina: 26:53:28

07 October:



1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (aka, João Rodrigues Cabrilho) anchors in San Pedro Bay on his flagship San Salvador; names it Bahia de los Fumos y Fuegos (“The Bay of Smoke and Fires”); describes it as “a port enclosed and very good”; this makes the deep water anchorage of San Pedro Harbor (now the outer harbor of the Port of Los Angeles) 468 years old in 2010

1846: Captain Mervine arrives in San Pedro on the Savannah; finds Gillespie on the merchant ship Vandalia anchored in the bay


2010: Harbor Commission gives initial (informal) okay for the Pacific Battleship Center’s proposal to bring the USS Iowa battleship to the Port of Los Angeles as a floating museum and tourist attraction

08 October:




1846: Mervine and the combined American forces from the two ships disembark at the 500 varas reservation at San Pedro and begin marching up the old trail to Los Angeles; by 2:30 pm the exhausted troops make camp on the ranch of Manuel Dominguez (Rancho San Pedro)

09 October:


1846: Battle of Dominguez Ranch; Californios win battle by the innovative use of flying artillery—the “Old Woman’s Gun” is tied to the wheels of an ox cart and quickly moved about by caballeros on horseback using lariats

10 October:


1846: The defeated Americans bury their dead on the Isla de los Muertos (Deadman’s Island) in San Pedro Bay


1928: Commander Byrd finishes preparations in San Pedro and leaves on the Norwegian whaler C.A. Larsen for Wellington, New Zealand, on his Antarctica expedition (with 2 young stowaways)

11 October:

1888: 1st organizing meeting of LA’s 2nd Chamber of Commerce; 1st order of business is harbor improvements (just like the 1st chamber)

1901: Brief article published in Science magazine reports discovery of a submerged beach at Santa Catalina 40 fathoms below the surface of the ocean (up to a mile offshore); finding supports theory of A.C. Lawson that Catalina was sinking while San Pedro Hill and San Clement Island were rising out of the Pacific


1923: Electrical short circuit declared cause of explosion on submarine S-37 in San Pedro; 3 dead, 5 injured


1963: Banning Residence in Wilmington is declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the city of LA

12 October:



1909: President William Howard Taft visits LA and tours San Pedro harbor; declares commitment to further improvements; recommends extending the newly completed breakwater

13 October:

1905: Articles of incorporation filed for the Improved Redman’s Association of San Pedro,


1914: 1st construction of permanent harbor defense installations (government reservation renamed Fort MacArthur)

15 October:

1909: Russian-Italian “race war” between coworkers at E.K. Wood Lumber Co. in San Pedro

1924: LAPD confiscates firearms from San Pedro residents (fears their use during ongoing labor strike)

1977: Ship collision and spill; the Eagle Glory hits the wharf at Berth 97

19 October:


1987: Black Monday; Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 508 points, the second largest percentage and point collapse in history

20 October:


1925: Los Angeles City Fire Boat No. 2 (later named the Ralph J. Scott) is launched by the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp. at the Los Angeles Shipyard (later Todd Shipyard) in San Pedro

21 October:

1944: Berth 233 explosion and fire in Wilmington; 200’ of outfitting dock severely damaged to a depth of about 30’; caused by the earlier accidental pumping of highly inflammable and volatile toluene into the harbor from the holds of the tanker S.S. Fredricksburg at Berth 151

22 October:


1904: Union Pacific Railroad annual report reveals ownership of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad; report and subsequent investigations confirm that the Harriman combine has a monopoly over all shipping to and from Los Angeles through control of both the Southern Pacific and the Salt Lake transcontinental routes to Los Angeles and the San Pedro harbor; reveals that Senator Clark (founder of the Salt Lake Route) was no “white knight”; the anti-railroad sentiments of the “Free Harbor” movement in the 1890s will now fuel the successful drive for consolidation


2002: The San Pedro Municipal Building is declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the city of LA

23 October:


1846: Stockton arrives in San Pedro Bay in his flagship the Congress; he confers with Mervine and Gillespie, raises the American flag at Casa de San Pedro (the old adobe hide house on the 500 varas reservation), and sets sail for San Diego


1943: US Coast Guard commissions the USS San Pedro, PF-37 (originally PG-145); named after San Pedro, California and built by Consolidated Steel Corp. in Wilmington, California (launched 6/11/1943, 303’11” long, 37’6” beam,12’8” draft, 2,230 tons displacement, 20 knots top speed); ship earns 4 battle stars for service in WWII


1970: Gary Gabelich, born in San Pedro, California, sets the world land speed record of 622.287 mph in the rocket-powered Blue Flame at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah; holds the record for 13 years (1970-1983)

24 October:

1929: Stock market panic foreshadows the market crash that would happen five days later

26 October:


1869: John G. Downey and Phineas Banning inaugurate LA’s first railroad, the 21 mile Los Angeles & San Pedro railway



The LA&SP line was the original Alameda Corridor between downtown and the harbor; it ran between Banning’s wharf in Wilmington and the Alameda Street Station in Los Angeles


The LA&SP’s San Gabriel was a temperamental engine known for its frequent breakdowns; it was salvaged from the waters of San Francisco Bay after falling off a dock



1909: Ordinance passed creating the LA’s Harbor Commission (two months after the voter-approved consolidations of San Pedro, Wilmington and Los Angeles); actual birth date of the Port of Los Angeles; the official birth date is 12/09/1907, when land-locked LA, as shown in the October 1908 Sanborn map (which also shows the old Redlight District of Paradise Valley and the failed attempt by Long Beach to take over all of Terminal Island), created a Harbor Board—but who needs reality when you have a century-old political and bureaucratic fiction?

28 October:

1919: U.S. congress passes the National Prohibition Act (the Volstead Act), initiating the enforcement of prohibition; San Pedro saloons go underground (figuratively and literally); local boat works build speedboats for rumrunners

29 October:


1924: 1st pneumonic plague victims in the Los Angeles epidemic; results in a massive rat trapping campaign in San Pedro and other parts of LA; U.S. Surgeon General orders a quarantine of the harbor on December 22nd (Oakland and New Orleans were also quarantined)


1929: Black Tuesday; massive stock market crash signals the beginning of the Great Depression

2005: Waterfront Promenade grand opening

31 October:


1865: Title to the Drum Barracks property conveyed to the U.S. government by Phineas Banning and B. D. Wilson; in exchange for “donating” the land, Banning and his partners were given exclusive contracts by the federal government and “General” Banning became a millionaire profiting from the Civil War



1 comment:

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