Saturday, January 8, 2011

January in San Pedro

January in San Pedro

01 January:

1887: Seaman Nelson shot in head by “a Mexican” while in San Pedro; wound is not fatal; suspect escapes

1889: San Pedro lit by electric lights for the first time

1890: M.L. Dyer of Los Angeles, carrying a large sum of money, disappears from San Pedro while “under a temporary aberration of the mind” in the company of a stranger; foul play is feared; brother-in law receives a cryptic message left for him in San Pedro signed “New York Man”; Dyer may have left on a steamer to San Francisco

1925: The U.S. Surgeon General orders quarantines of the San Pedro, San Francisco, Oakland, and New Orleans ports to contain the outbreak of rat-borne plague; all ships required to undergo rigid inspections (see October 29 and December 22 and 29)

1927: Heavy swells destroy 300 feet of boardwalk in San Pedro



2011: San Pedro icon, John Olguin (born 02/18/1921), dies in his home at the age of 89; receives a somber tribute from 1,000 at the annual Polar Bears swim he helped organize; Olguin retired in 1987 after working 50 years at Cabrillo Beach (from teenaged lifeguard—he used to swim to work and fellow lifeguard Martha Torkelson Farrell would carry his lunch on her bike—to Museum Director); the joyful raconteur delighted generations with his stories and enthusiasm for sea life, started the 58-year-old annual San Pedro 4th of July fireworks display, started the grunion programs in 1951, established the Point Fermin Marine Life Refuge, founded the Cabrillo Whalewatch naturalist-training program (although called the father of recreational whale watching, he credited Phillip Grignon of San Clemente High School), was a founding member of the American Cetacean Society, and the director emeritus of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

02 January:

1902: San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake railway directors call for an additional $1 million in construction funds (brings total advanced by line promoters to $6 million); 1st case in U.S. history where so much money was paid for such work without issuing bonds

1903: Danish sailor Feoder Busch is fatally shot through a closed door while trying to force entry into a San Pedro "disorderly house" (brothel or bordelo)



1940: Dedication ceremony held for Banning Park in Wilmington, California

03 January:



1901: Disastrous early morning fire in San Pedro; alarm sounded at 1:45 am when flames seen in Italian fruit store behind J.L. Griffin’s Seaside market; fire sweeps along Front and 5th streets, igniting the dry wooden structures; Union Hotel, Murphy’s Hotel, 5 saloons, 2 butcher shops, general merchandise store, 3 fruit stands, 3 restaurants, and furniture store destroyed—the city hall was barely saved (the new city hall, pictured above, was built away from downtown on Vinegar Hill at 11th and S. Palos Verdes); total losses estimated at $50,000 (insured at $20,000); volunteer firemen spray themselves to keep from collapsing; the San Pedro Volunteer Fire Department which fought the blaze was organized in 1895 and had 65 members divided into 5 companies—3 hose, 1 hook and ladder, and 1 chemical; the prior volunteer force of 2 companies was formed in 1889 with D.R. Clay as chief and attorney (later state senator) W.H. Savage as foreman; worst San Pedro fire since 1886 (San Francisco Call)


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1921: German U-boat UB-88 (UB III class; UB-48 type; built 1917; 55.3 x 5.8 x 3.68 meters; 510 tons; 182’ length; 19’ breadth; commissioned 01/26/1918), the only known German submarine on the west coast, is towed out to sea from San Pedro and sunk in live fire practice; UB-88 was one of six U-boats granted to the U.S.by Great Britain after WWI; in a 1919 war bonds promotion UB-88 toured the U.S. Atlantic coast, passed through the Panama Canal, and visited western ports before its final arrival in San Pedro on 11/07/1919 (a 15,361 mile “cruise”); on 05/27/1921 over 4,000 5 ½" long, 8 oz. souvenir paperweights (cast from bronze salvaged from the UB-88 and shaped like the submarine) are distributed to guests at farewell ball in Long Beach honoring Capt. and Mrs. Chauncey Shackford (hosted by the officers and men of San Pedro’s submarine division 6, Submarine Base); the UB-88’s 2 bronze propellers were stolen from the San Pedro submarine base on April 25, 1923




The wreck of the submarine was located in 2003 by Gary Fabian (see the UB88 Project’s composite image and the videos posted by Christopher Hirsch, Phil Garner and blackwoodma)

1927: 2nd successful channel swim from Catalina to San Pedro made by Henry Sullivan in 22 hours and 45 minutes

1930: New York Times reports inquiry into a fire from a turpentine pot on an officer’s gig lashed to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) in San Pedro; 2 dead and 4 severely burned; the Saratoga first arrived in San Pedro and joined the Pacific Battle Fleet on 02/21/1928



1936: Riffraff (a film about tuna fishermen, cannery workers, unions, crime, sabotage and sex in San Pedro) starring Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy is released: although filmed on location in San Pedro it “makes no effort to turn to account the genuine picturesqueness of the San Pedro, Calif, docks” (Time, 01/20/1936)



1944: Timms’ Point and Landing (see January 07) registered as Historic Landmark No. 384; Timms Landing was also declared a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 171) on 02/16/1977

04 January:



1932: Albert Einstein disembarks at San Pedro on way to Pasadena’s Caltech (California Institute of Technology) and the Mount Wilson Observatory; leaves from San Pedro in March aboard the Hamburg-American San Francisco (Time, 03/14/1932); returning to LA in January 1933, Einstein observed the war ships in San Pedro harbor through field glasses for an hour while waiting to debark—causing him to exclaim that “More than ever before, I wish on this visit to promote international goodwill.” (Time, 01/23/1933)

1932: Time magazine reports that the Denver Pacific Railroad has requested the Interstate Commerce Commission to grant permission to build a new 860-mile railroad from Denver to San Pedro, California; railroad men correctly predict that permission would be denied



1986: Mobil Oil Terminal Island storage facility spills 18,900 gallons (450 barrels) of crude oil into the Main Channel of the harbor when a worker leaves open a 2” wide drain valve; current and tide pushes oil slick onto inner Cabrillo Beach and the breakwater (Los Angeles Times, 01/12/1986)

05 January:

1883: General J.R. Brierly finds a petrified clam on San Pedro Hill at 560’ above sea level (see January 7)

1980: Berth 240 ship collision: Naval oiler/tanker USS Pecos (AO-65) vs. the escort frigate USS Bradley (FF-1041) and dry dock

06 January:

1883: Marquis of Lorne (John Douglas Sutherland Campbell), Princess Louise (Queen Victoria’s 4th daughter), and party leave Santa Barbara on steamer Acon for San Pedro, where a special train is waiting to carry them east (the marriage of the Princess Louise to the commoner Campbell in 1871 was a "cause célèbre" in Victorian England)

1887: The 3 sole survivors of the lost ship Harvey Mills arrive in San Pedro in very poor condition after 4 days on a raft in heavy seas without food or water (see December 14)

1937: Million dollar yacht wrecked; the Sultana (railroad magnate Harriman’s queen of the yachts in 1890), is keeled over and stuck in the mud at San Pedro (New York Times)

1965: Time magazine reports the conviction of a couple for a San Pedro mugging based on a novel use of probability statistics to prove that no other couple with the same characteristics could exist; the conviction is overturned by the California Supreme Court; court concluded that the prosecution mislead the jury by an improper representation of the statistical probabilities—they actually prove there could have been 2 couples with the same characteristics (Time 04/26/1968)

07 January:



1860: Judge Benjamin Hays (who prosecuted the sons of Don Lugo for murder in 1850) writes in his diary: “San Pedro: The rain last night has not left the roads as muddy as I expected to find them. Start at 1 P.M., in a splendid coach with six horses; clear and cold, a stiff breeze blowing over the plain. In 18 miles reach New San Pedro; my first visit; surprised to see so much improvement. Banning gives us a warm greeting, and while they are changing the horses makes us sit down to dinner. Six miles further to the landing of A. W. Timms; sent aboard in a little pilot boat... The sea is smooth, the moon shining brightly, but one prefers the coal-fire of the saloon to the deck outside; in agreeable conversation, it comes to be time for rest.”

1889: J.R. Brierly of San Pedro and Los Angeles (Customs collector: 1882-1886; California Assemblyman: 1886-1888?; LA County School Superintendant: 1888-1889?) begins his term in the California Senate (see January 5)



1901: Articles of incorporation filed for the State Bank of San Pedro headquartered in San Pedro ($25,000 capital stock)

1924: Defective shell explodes on the battleship USS Oklahoma during antiaircraft practice off Santa Catalina Island; 5 injured

08 January:

1852: John Bigler becomes the 3rd Governor of California (1852-1855)

1933: Fred Rebell, Australian navigator, arrives in San Pedro—completing a 12-month solo voyage from Sydney

1938: Bomber crashes into aircraft carrier off San Pedro during search for another missing bomber

1939: Alphonse “Al” Capone transferred by train to FCI Terminal Island; family pays $37,692.29 of his $50,000 fines and $7,692.29 court costs in hope of an early release from his 10-year sentence (6 years and 8 months were served on Alcatraz prior to transfer); at Terminal Island Capone will be treated for paresis and be safer from murder attempts by fellow prisoners (Time 01/16/1939); he was paroled on 11/16/1939

09 January:



1827: Jedediah Strong Smith (American trapper, scout and explorer) arrives in San Pedro from San Diego aboard the Couries (under Captain Cunningham); disembarks for San Gabriel and arrives at the Mission on 01/10/1827

1851: John McDougall becomes the 2nd Governor of California





2010: Grand Opening of the 18-acre 22nd Street Park on the site of the former Union Oil Company tank farm (1958-1988) with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Commissioner Lopez Mendoza, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Commissioner Joe Radisch, POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, John Papadakis, et.al.


10 January:

1847: U.S. forces win the Battle of the San Gabriel River and proceed to recapture Los Angeles



1862: (Amasa) Leland Stanford, one of the “Big Four” who formed the Central Pacific Railroad in 1861 (the others being Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, and Collis P. Huntington) is sworn in as the 8th Governor of California; later, as President and Chairman of the Southern Pacific Railroad and as a U.S. Senator, Stanford favored the development of San Pedro as LA’s harbor; after Stanford’s death in 1893 Collis P. Huntington gained control of the Southern Pacific and tried to move the harbor to Santa Monica

1906: Articles of incorporation filed for the San Pedro Publishing Company headquartered in San Pedro ($25,000 capital stock); takes over publication of the San Pedro News (founded in 1903); editors: Winfield Hogaboom, 1906-1908; John C. Wray, 1909-1917; E.M. Boyd, 1918; F.W. Tenny, 1919-1922)



1910: The 10-day 1st U.S International Air Meet (and the 2nd international air meet) is held at “Dominguez Field” on Rancho San Pedro (01/10-20/1910); 1st powered flight in the west; Glenn H. Curtiss sets new air speed record of 60 miles per hour; 1st demonstration of the military potential of airplanes is driven home when Paulhan flies down to San Pedro and over the new batteries at Fort MacArthur (see January 14);





The air meet on Rancho San Pedro led to the creation of the California (and west coast) aerospace industry; the over 250,000 attendees included the future founders of Boeing (William “Bill” Boeing), Bell (Lawrence Bell) and Lockheed-Martin (Glen L. Martin); see short clips from the air meet of  Glen Curtiss Readying for Take-Off, the Curtiss Biplane Taking Off, and Louis Paulhan being congratulated)




2010: Aviation Day at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum celebrating the centennial of the Dominguez Field Los Angeles Air Meet (see promotional video); Event included car show, period dancers, exhibits, vendors, flyovers, and parachutists (there was unscheduled excitement when the American flag caught in the trees bordering the field causing a skydiver crash-landing)




2010: Canetti's Seafood Grotto closes after over 60 years as a favorite San Pedro hangout and eatery; the sign is gone, but a year later a faded thank you from “Big Joe” was still in the window

11 January:

1855: Lt. Ord of the U.S. Coast Survey returns to San Pedro and writes: “San Pedro looked more desolate and adobe-like than ever... I was glad to mount and be off over the plains” to LA

1862: Correspondence from New San Pedro (Wilmington) to the Los Angeles Star reports that Judge Winston’s wagon train (200 wagons with nearly 1,200 mules) to Fort Yuma, Vegas and Salt Lake under the command of Col. Carleton is delayed due to mules “lost at sea”; steamer Wright went aground on the sunken reef a half mile from shore while trying to reach the mainland without having to pay expensive lighterage fees; cargo of mules thrown overboard to swim ashore on their own; many were recovered but 120 are still missing

12 January:

1869: LA&SP engine, the San Gabriel, and 3 rail cars arrives in San Pedro (1st train in Southern California) after 3 miles of track have already been laid in Wilmington using drayhorses to haul rails from Banning’s wharf  (see October 26)



1883: San Pedro Lumber Company incorporated with headquarters in San Francisco ($200,000 Capital Stock; 2,000 shares)

1934: 4,000 cases of Japanese canned tuna confiscated by Customs at San Pedro with counterfeit NRA Blue Eagle insignias on each case


2004: 1st side-door vessel in LA, Seatrade’s M.V. Lombok Strait (one of only 2 Strait Class Reefers in the world), arrives with 5,500 pallets of Chilean fruit; entire hold can be emptied without cranes or removing above deck containers (Press Release; Specifications)

12 January:




The restoration of the DEC (Distant Electric Control) station for the Fort MacArthur Museum’s 1942 General electric searchlight (the 352nd Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion Memorial Searchlight) is completed and successfully tested

13 January:

1847: Californios capitulate to the Americans after negotiating the Treaty of the Cahuenga Ranch near LA

1859: Corps of Topographical Engineers report for harbor improvement appropriations for San Pedro and San Diego published (House Misc. Docs., No. 13,354h, Cong. 2nd sess., Vol. I)

14 January:

1847: Los Angeles is retaken by American forces



1860: John Gately Downey, LA businessman and partner of Phineas Banning in the founding of New San Pedro (Wilmington), becomes the 7th Governor of California only 5 days after being sworn in as Lt. Governor (Governor Milton Latham resigned after appointing himself to fill the vacant U.S Senate seat); three years earlier Downey was appointed San Pedro’s customs collector (see December 01) and nine years later he co-founded (with Banning) the Los Angeles & San Pedro railway—the 1st railroad in southern California (see October 26 and January 12)



1910: On the 5th day of the International Air Meet, Louis Paulhan (the famous French aviator flying a Farman b-plane), is cheered by 40,000 spectators at the Dominguez Aviation Field on completing his 20-mile cross-country dash to the sea at San Pedro; flies over new the gun emplacements at Fort MacArthur and is greeted during flight by whistles and horns from the ships anchored in the harbor

15 January:



1927: 1st successful Catalina channel swim; George Young, the 17-year-old Canadian from Toronto, wins the Wrigley Ocean Marathon swim from Avalon to San Pedro; Young is the only entrant out of 102 (including veteran swimmers of the English Channel) to complete the swim; Time: 15 hours, 44 minutes and 30 seconds; Young competed for the $25,000 prize from William Wrigley, Jr. ($309,000 in 2009 dollars using the Consumer Price Index—but over a million dollars using the Unskilled Wage Index) in order to help his ailing mother (view the British Pathe newsreel)


1959: Kerosene spill in harbor due to collision of freighter President Johnson and tanker Monmouth at Berth 169

1978: Ship collision between the Sea Lift China Sea and the Lorenzo D'Amigo at Berth 223

16 January:

1920: Prohibition goes into effect under the Volstead Act (see January 29)

17 January:



1843: 1st American war ship to anchor in San Pedro Bay is the sloop Cyane (30,850 tons; 18 carronades and two 24 pounders; launched 12/02/1837) under Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones (1790-1858); the only “home” in San Pedro is a large warehouse quadrangle with transverse wings owned by Abel Stearns; Commodore Jones goes to LA in the Governor’s barouche (the 1st 4-wheeled vehicle to travel between the pueblo and the harbor); the purpose of Commodore Jones’ visit was to apologize to Governor Micheltorena for mistakenly attacking and capturing Monterey on 10/20/1842 (see January 19)


1910: Steamer Lakme from Eureka runs aground on the San Pedro breakwater; ship is refloated and hauled into the harbor






1941: Board of Equalization and liquor control officers make liquor raids in San Pedro; arrests include a Shanghai Red B-girl and the Frisco Cafe manager; unstamped liquor confiscated

18 January:

1919: Signing of the Treaty of Versailles; WWI is over

1952: Richard Henry Dana Junior High (now Dana Middle School) storm day; school closed because out-of-town teachers cannot get to San Pedro due to storm damage

1976: Rum Runner Restaurant Fire, Berth 83

19 January:



1842: Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones meets Governor Manuel Micheltorena at the Palacio de Don Abel (Abel Stearns’ home in Los Angeles); Abel Stearns holds a gala ball in honor of Governor Manuel Micheltorena so that Commodore Jones can apologize for invading California and capturing Monterey; Jones and company leaves LA and return to their ship anchored at San Pedro on 01/21/1843

1923: John T. Gaffey files “Dragon Racks” trademark for his Mah-Juck Manufacturing Co. of San Pedro (Serial No. 171,043); claims use of term for proprietary Mah-Juck racks since 12/13/1922; Mah-Juck is another term for Mahjong (as are Mah-Jong, Mah-Diao, Mah-Cheuk and Pe-Ling)






2010: Worst LA storm in 2 decades; San Pedro streets flooded (4th and Grand (another; third); 5th and Gaffey; 7th Street (again); 8th Street; 18th Street; 21st Street; near 22nd Street; 25th Street Mudslide (another perspective); Royal Palms (again; more); Cabrillo Beach (another; again; and again; yet again; prelude surfing; more surfing; Federal Breakwater; Compilation Video ) and YouTube is flooded with San Pedro flood and storm videos (see January 22)


20 January:



1840: Francis Mellus, visiting LA from a Boston ship anchored in San Pedro, records in his diary the horse race won by Moses Carson, bother of Kit Carson which resulted in Mose being accused of being a “hechicero” (sorcerer)

1847: Stockton marches from LA to San Pedro and disembarks on a man-of-war for San Diego

21 January:

1886: All Southern Pacific lines in and out of LA are closed due to flood damage; none of the trains from San Pedro, Santa Monica, or Santa Ana valley can reach LA; washouts in Soledad Canyon; both LA River bridges damaged the river changes course; washouts between Indio and Yuma; Southern California line washed out between Waterman and Colton; many washouts on the Atlantic and Pacific road; on 01/27/1886 the Southern Pacific and Atlantic Pacific roads reopen and run regular trains on the San Pedro and Santa Monica lines

1883: Captain Martin Chester of the schooner Halcyon (former resident of Humbolt, California; past boatkeeper of the yacht Con; formerly in command of the schooner Eclipse) still missing after over a month; disappeared in early December after arriving in San Pedro and drawing $300 on account

1897: San Pedro Oil Company incorporated with headquarters in LA; $500,000 of capital stock; Directors: E.T. Hove of Pasadena; W.H. Obear, Walter Duncan and Allen Dodd of LA; and H.J. Muller of San Pedro

1960: Dedication ceremony declaring site of the Dominguez Air Meet a California Registered Historical Landmark (No. 718)

1981: Outer Harbor ship explosion: Bulk carrier Asia Gem carrying powdered zinc; 1 dead

22 January:

1822: Abel Stearns granted a Spanish passport

1934: FCWIU (Fishermen and Cannery Workers’ Industrial Union) San Pedro and Wilmington sardine fishermen have gone on strike because canneries refuse to honor contract of $7.00 per ton; canneries claim the fish are too small to yield enough oil and refuse every catch to drive down price; thousands of tons of fish dumped into the sea daily; Boat Owners Association, Italian Fishermen’s Association and Japanese fishermen’s Association support strike (Voice of Action, 01/22/1934, pg 3)



1988: The Masonic Temple (Lodge No. 198) in Wilmington (221-227 N. Avalon Boulevard) is declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 342 by the city of LA; the Temple was built in 1882 (charter granted 10/14/1869) on Canal Street and is the oldest nonresidential building in Wilmington; Lodge membership declined in the 1890s after the economic center of the harbor moved back to San Pedro; the building was moved to its present location in 1912; actor Dennis Hopper owned a loft in the building and was instrumental in its restoration




1991: Fort MacArthur’s Battery Osgood-Farley in San Pedro (see the Flash panoramas at Nonplused) is declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 515 by the city of LA (it was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1976)


1991: Residence at 381-383 W. 10th Street, San Pedro declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 514 by the city of LA



2010: After the worst of the storms the waves still break over the breakwater with a beautiful majestic fury (see more images—including Whites Point/Royal Palms and Point Fermin—or view a compilation video)

23 January:

1855: Advertisement for Alexander & Banning announces opening of a line of stages and a train of wagons and pack mules from San Pedro to Los Angeles, San Fernando Mission, Lake Elizabeth, Fort Tejon, Gody, Biship’s Rancho, and the Indian reservation; goods received in San Pedro will be delivered to any of the above or at White River



1914: Mutual Weekly No. 57 newsreel released; includes Great Lumber Yards Destroyed; description: “E.K. Wood plant at San Pedro, California is entirely wiped out by fire”; the location of the E.K. Wood Lumber yard is now the Ports O’ Call parking lot (see January 24)

24 January:

1848: James Marshall and Peter L. Wimmer discover gold in the tailrace at Sutter's new sawmill on the American River; despite attempts to keep the discovery a secret, word got out and the largest gold rush in the world began (the 1849 Gold Rush)

1914: Golden Gate Weekly No. 59 newsreel (California Motion Picture Corporation) released; includes Quarter Million Dollar Fire at San Pedro; description: “thought started by IWW agitators, wreaks havoc on the largest section of Southern California city” (see January 23)

1979: Gasoline spill; Berth 84; 4,800 gals. from an overturned truck




1989: The Wilmington Cemetery (601-725 E. O Street) is declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 414 by the city of LA; in 1924 an 1875 Gatling gun was mounted on a tripod in the cemetery as a memorial to Civil War veterans—it was stolen in 1962, found in a local dump in July 1969, and is now displayed in the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum

25 January:

1888: (possibly January 26) Coffee Jack’s “dance hall” fire in San Pedro; newspapers speculate the loss of a favorite “seaman’s resort” may impact the ongoing sailors’ strike (raising implications the fire was not an accident)

26 January:

1859: George Davidson, of the U.S. Coast Survey, writes the Los Angeles Star refuting the 11/06/1858 article criticizing the survey’s neglect of San Pedro (letter published 02/12/1859); Davidson’s letter includes the following summary of survey activities in San Pedro: Spring 1852: San Pedro twice occupied as secondary astronomical station—topography, hydrology, and soundings made of harbor roadstead and lagoon and sketch published; December 1852: reconnaissance made between San Pedro and LA to establish baseline for triangulation and to connect Channel Islands with mainland; March 1853: baseline located and measured; April-May 1853: triangulation commenced despite frequent vandalizing of signals and San Pedro subsequently occupied as secondary tidal station; 1854: Davidson’s descriptive report to the Survey superintendent; 1855: partial topographic survey completed and published for lighthouse site; Davidson notes that Los Angeles authorities never requested a more minute survey of San Pedro and complains that he could not document the importance of San Pedro trade (“greater than the aggregate of all the other ports south of San Francisco”) in his report because the port collectors and inspectors of California, Washington and Oregon had ignored his requests for comparative data; Davidson also complains of frequent appeals in 1852 and 1853 by “interested parties” trying to advance their own self-serving and competing interests in the roadstead and lagoon (“there is not an officer in any department who does not know the extortionate demands made upon him, when acting in an official capacity; whilst the majority of persons openly boast of their determination to make as much as possible out of the Government.  They consider it the legitimate subject of plunder, and chuckle when successful.”)

1872: Antimonopoly sentiment led to the repeal of the subsidy law by the Assembly—excluding the counties through which the SPRR would build their new transcontinental line (via Los Angeles), if a general election supported the subsidies

1948: Dr. Harland Apfel of San Pedro reports the successful transplant of wisdom teeth to replace regular molars in the jaws of young people

27 January:



1832: Pio de Jesús Pico, of San Diego and Los Angeles,  is sworn in as interim Governor of Alto California, replacing Manuel Victoria who was deposed on 12/09/1831 by a revolt in southern California (see December 05); Victoria had been governor less than a year (he took the oath of office at Monterey on 01/31/1831); Pio became governor a second time in 1845 when he again replaced an overthrown predecessor, Manuel Micheltorena (see January 19); Pico became the last Mexican governor of California—serving until the American occupation in 1846; by the 1850s he was one of the wealthiest Dons of California but suffered from a rare and usually fatal pituitary ailment (acromegaly)—by the 1880s he had totally recovered but had lost all of his wealth

1880: Thomas Edison's Patent Application for the Light Bulb (see January 1)

28 January:

1915: The U.S. Coast Guard was created by Congress with the merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Life-Saving Service (designated to operate as part of the Navy in time of war)

1945: USS Everglades launched in San Pedro by Todd Shipyards; completed on 05/23/1946 but not commissioned until 05/25/1951

29 January:

1850: U.S. Senator Henry Clay presents a compromise to prevent the Union from dissolving over the issue of slavery; Congress debates Clay's proposal for eight months before passing the Compromise of 1850, which includes allowing California to enter the union as a free state

1880: California Assemblyman Del Valle introduces an act to provide for the refunding of the funded debt of the city of Los Angeles created by the 02/01/1868 act authorizing subscription to $75,000 worth of capital stock in the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad Company



1919: Prohibition established under the 18th Amendment (repealed on 12/05/1933 with the 21st Amendment); adopted after ratification by the States; Primary responsibility for investigation and enforcement was given to the Internal Revenue Service (see January 16)

30 January:



1997: Cap Star Hotel Co. purchases the Doubletree Hotel LA/World Port at Cabrillo Marina to reflag it under the Hilton brand as the San Pedro Hilton (the Hilton brand left the Marina Hotel in 2004 and the Doubletree brand has returned)

31 January:

1907: San Francisco stockbrokers report that $700,000 was raised in Nevada mining camps to build a smelter in San Pedro, where fluxing ore can be easily imported from Mexico; two sites are offered by the Clarke line (the San Pedro, Los Angele & Salt Lake railway or “Salt Lake Route”) on Terminal Island

2005: Inaugural lighting of the Vincent Thomas Bridge; 1st bridge lit with solar powered LED lights; fundraising to light the bridge began 17 years earlier in 1988



2010: Papadakis Taverina (founded by John Papadakis at age 23) is closed after 37 years as a San Pedro landmark; Papadakis was a favorite of locals and tourists alike for its excellent Greek food and exuberant atmosphere (including the ever popular plate-smashing); it was an out-of-the-way haunt for generations of celebrities from Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to Tom Hanks and Paula Abdul (Natalie Wood ate her last meal there before drowning off Santa Catalina in 1981); when Pete Carroll was coach of the USC Trojans he would close deals with high school recruits at the restaurant


Also in January:

1828: Governor Echandia orders all way ports closed except for San Pedro

1831: Manuel Victorio replaces Jose M. Echeandia as Mexican governor of Alto California

1832: Small brig anchors in San Pedro and maroons 2 passengers (Catholic missionaries expelled from the Sandwich Islands)

1833: Jose Figueroa replaces Pio Pico as Mexican governor of Alto California (replaced by Jose Castro in June 1835)

1836: Nicholas Gutierrez replaces Jose Castro as Mexican governor of Alto California



1849: 1st carriage in LA County is purchased by Temple & Alexander of San Pedro and LA for $1,000 from Captain Kanem, Major Graham’s quartermaster (purchase price included 2 American horses); the firm of Temple & Alexander (Jonathon Temple and David W. Alexander, who had been appointed collector of the port at San Pedro by Commodore Stockton in 1846) had bought out the interests of Abel Stearns in San Pedro and had been developing the freighting and transport business between San Pedro and Los Angeles since 1844;  in 1851 Alexander also formed the general merchandise firm of Alexander & Mellus in Los Angeles with Francis “Frank” Mellus (see January 20); Mellus had supervised the shipping of hides from San Pedro to San Diego for the San Francisco firm of Mellus & Howard—later W.D.M.. Howard & Co—which was co-founded by his brother, Henry Mellus (who had been a shipmate of Richard Henry Dana on the Pilgrim when it visited San Pedro in 1835); when Francis Mellus died in 1864, Alexander married his widow



1853: Phineas Banning becomes the junior partner of David W. Alexander in the firm Alexander & Banning (Banning left the employ of Douglas & Sanford to join their competitor while—or immediately after—wooing the sister of his former employer?); the firm assumed the forwarding and passenger business between San Pedro and Los Angeles established by the preceding firm of Temple & Alexander after the original senior partner withdrew from active participation; the firm became Banning & Company after Alexander sold out his interests in 1855 (the pioneering efforts of Stearns, Temple, Alexander, Sanford, Timms and Tomlinson in San Pedro—along with Downey and B.D. Wilson in Wilmington—are frequently ignored when crediting Banning as the "Father of the Port")

1857: Filibusterer Henry A. Crabb, a Stockton lawyer, arrives in San Pedro on the steamer Sea Bird from San Francisco with 100 men; they march south to invade Mexico in a failed attempt to “liberate” Sonora and create a new slave state



LA’s Great Flood of 1862—50 inches of rain fell from late December 1861 to early January 1862; worst flood in the history of Los Angeles; thousands of cattle drown; fruit trees and vineyards are washed away; all overland routes to and from LA are closed for five weeks; only communication with the outside world is through the harbor; in New San Pedro (Wilmington) the new federal barracks are washed out by the floods; in San Pedro the storms washed away the bulkhead at Alexander Bell’s storehouse and sank Tomlinson’s 2 lighters while they were still loaded with lumber (the floods are followed by a severe drought—the two disasters wipe out the southern California cattle industry and the days of the Dons and the great ranchos are dead)
1862: 



1862: Camp San Pedro is established at current intersection of Avalon and Anaheim in Wilmington (renamed Camp Drum after General Richard Coulter Drum and changed to Drum Barracks on 12/01/1863); the lowlands camp site lacked drainage and was almost immediately washed out by the exceptionally heavy rains of early January; Banning proposed a new site on higher ground and the camp moved to the location then situated a mile northwest of town


1868: Flood splits the waters of the San Gabriel River north of the Whittier Narrows; most of the river is diverted into a new channel; ocean outlet moves 6 miles down the coast from San Pedro to Alamitos Bay; the last 7 miles of the old outlet is redefined as part of the Los Angeles River—the northern portion of the old San Gabriel channel is now called the Rio Hondo (prior to the 1825 flood the LA River had discharged southeasterly through Ballona Creek into Santa Monica Bay, afterwards it flowed southerly until it joined the San Gabriel River about 7 miles north of San Pedro Bay); the current outlet of the Los Angeles River (authorized by Act of Congress in 1917 and completed in 1921) was constructed in response to a 1914 flood which discharged several million cubic feet of silt into the newly dredged inner harbor

1871: Phineas Banning joins Benjamin D. Wilson (“Don Benito”) in Washington, D.C. to help his lobbying for appropriations to improve the San Pedro harbor; many later “histories” gave latecomer Banning sole credit for the appropriation despite the months of successful groundwork laid by Don Benito (who left for D.C. the prior September)



1909: E.T. Williams of Wales opens the Williams' Bookstore (the oldest continually operating bookstore in Los Angeles—100 years and counting) on Beacon Street in San Pedro; Williams is currently located at 443 W. 6th Street (2009 Centennial: Los Angeles Times; American Booksellers Association)

1914: Series of gales cause record surfs; sea breaks over summit of the 75’ high tower of the San Pedro breakwater lighthouse at Angels Gate (see my Breakwater Lighthouse video); tower survives but slightly tilted by weight and force of waves



1925: San Pedro IWW (headquartered at the corner of 12th and Centre) caves in to death threats from the KKK; all active members/organizers of the IWW have left the harbor area



The Southern California headquarters of the KKK (now a Rock Solid Christian Assembly church) was at 867 W. 10th Street in San Pedro



1935: Martin M-130, the giant China Clipper, returns to port at San Pedro; fuel clog forces passenger sea plane back to land after flying 700 miles into the Pacific

2002: Little Fish Theater opens in San Pedro (extension of the Shakespeare by the Sea program launched by Lisa Coffi in 1998)






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