Saturday, June 11, 2011

May in San Pedro: Part Two

May in San Pedro: Part Two

11 May:

1891: U.S. warships Omaha and Charleston anchor in San Pedro Bay to exchange signals; Charleston races south to catch the Italia before it can join the Chilean cruiser Esmeralda lying off Cape San Lucas in Baja California; officers of the Robert and Minnie charged with knowingly carrying arms to aid insurgents against the recognized government of a friendly power—manifest claimed the arms were bound for Humboldt, OR (New York Times, 05/12/1891)


1896: After Senators on the Commerce Committee attack the Santa Monica harbor appropriation (and despite the reports and rumors of improper influence used to secure it), Senator William P. Frye of Maine made a heated defense of the appropriation—eulogizing Collis Huntington and ridiculing the U.S. Army engineers for repeatedly preferring San Pedro; Frye denounces San Pedro harbor (supported by every member of the California delegation in both houses); opposing Senators have been warned that they will be punished if they don’t favor Santa Monica; when pushed, Frye could supply no facts to support his claims for Santa Monica’s superior natural advantage; Frye concludes speech on 05/12/1896 but fails to secure the $3 million appropriation for Santa Monica; Senate compromises by putting off a final decision and sending the issue to yet one more study for review (Willard, 1899; New York Times, 05/12/1896, 05/13/1896; see May 01, 07, 08, 09, 10, 14, and 21)

1899: Half-square block of buildings (west of Beacon; north of 6th Street) are destroyed in an early morning San Pedro fire; fire may have been started by a 2 am explosion in the Herald building on 6th street; buildings destroyed include the two H.A. Crocker buildings (including Proch’s restaurant and Beal & Jones groceries), the Benjamin Weston building (with Hixson’s hardware store), three James Herald buildings (with the M. Mayer and J.M. Brysen saloons, the doctor offices of Sylvester, J.S.G. Waltney and Wilson, and Putney’s hardware shop), and two small residences; total losses are estimated at $16,000 ($427,000 in 2009 dollars using the consumer price index; $2.82 million using the nominal share of GDP per capita index), only half of which was insured; the volunteer fire department was unable to save the buildings due to a high wind from the NE and alarmingly low water pressure (San Francisco Call, 05/12/1899, pg. 1)


1906: T.C. Peck, assistant general passenger agent of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railway, predicts San Pedro will become a great commercial center in a Los Angeles Herald interview (05/11/1906; pg. 5); article claims “It is generally conceded that San Pedro will in a short time be the greatest port on the Pacific coast” and “San Pedro is the ideal location for the gateway for the eastern trade” 


1941: Secretary Knox announced new $18 million, 333-acre, fleet operating base on Terminal Island in Long Beach, CA to be named Roosevelt Base (Pictorial California, Vol. 18, No. 2; see also February 09)

1946: Destroyer escort and ex officers’ school ship USS Doyle C. Barnes (DE-353; commissioned 07/13/1944) arrives in San Pedro, CA from Tsingtao (now spelled Qingdao), China; towed to San Diego for decommissioning and placement in reserve fleet (NHHC; NavSource)


1952: Young Tommy Reynolds (21 months old) lets his parents sleep in on Mother’s Day and goes for a 7 am stroll on Western Ave. in San Pedro; boy refuses to talk to the cops; anxious parents find him 2 hours later at the San Pedro police station after a frantic neighborhood search (USCDL, examiner-m11094)


2011: San Francisco investors, Carmel Partners, purchase the “Z-shaped” 16-story apartment tower complex, The Vue (on 5th Street from Palos Verdes to Centre in San Pedro) for $80.1 million (original construction cost was $175 million); developed as “affordable” ocean view condominiums ($300,000 to $1.5 million per unit, with most over $600,000), the complex opened in December 2008 just as the real estate boom crashed and the “Great Recession” made mortgages on condos unaffordable; developer went into receivership with only 24 units sold (despite pre-opening sales in May 2006 of over $100 million, most buyers dropped out when the recession hit—resulting in 76% of the 318 units being leased or rented) (Metal Construction News, 05/01/2010; Daily Breeze, 07/24/2010; 05/12/2011; Los Angeles Times, 05/11/2011; Galaxy Commercial)

12 May:

1865: Hancock Banning, son of Phineas and Rebecca Sanford Banning, is born

1884: U.S. flagship Hartford detained in San Pedro due to a broken cylinder


1945: New Navy destroyer USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858; laid down 07/16/1944 by Bethlehem Steel in San Pedro, CA; launched 01/28/1945;) is commissioned in San Pedro by Commodore S.F. Heim, with Commander N.J. Frank, Jr. in command, and assigned to San Diego, CA; the Berry, reclassified as an escort destroyer (DDE-858) in March 1950, served for a quarter century in the Pacific and Atlantic fleets—earning 2 battle stars during the Korean War; decommissioned 09/15/1970 and scuttled off the Florida Keys to create a man-made reef; in 1971 the mini submarine Sea-Link, operating as an oceanographic research vessel for the Smithsonian Institution, got entangled in the ship’s cables; after several failed attempts the ship was finally rescued after 31 hours—but with 2 dead from carbon dioxide poisoning (NavSource; FredTBerry.org; Wikipedia; Tin Can Sailors; Time, 07/02/1973; HistoryCentral; NHHC)


1954: Los Angeles Examiner reports on May Day festival at Leland Street School in San Pedro; pioneer days theme has children dressed as forty-niners, settlers, pony express riders, and Indians (USCDL, examiner-m20915)


1958: San Pedro Elks Lodge 966’s “famed” annual Harbor Shrine Club Night cioppino dinner; to promote the event, a Miss Mermaid (Patricia Moore, 23, of San Pedro) poses with Shiner, Elk and a display of dead fish on the San Pedro docks in front of a fishing boat (USCDL, examiner-m17198)



1995: Movie Crimson Tide is released; directed by Tony Scott; starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington; the departure scene was filmed using the hulk of ex USS Barbel (SS-580) in San Pedro, CA; the Barbel's sail, superstructure and induction piping had been cut off during scrapping and the studio built a fake superstructure and sail (using plywood and other materials) to transform it into a nuclear sub; the Barbel was reclaimed by the navy and sunk as a target in 2002 (IMDb; TCM; AFI; Wikipedia; BOM; SubmarineSailor);

13 May:

1882: Captain George Nichols Shaw (see December 20) comes to San Pedro at age 49 to be the light keeper at the Point Fermin lighthouse; Shaw was born in Cambridgeport, MS on 07/22/1832; Shaw quit the blacksmith trade at age 18 to become a sailor on a whaling ship; he later joined the French navy and served in the Burmese War on the English frigate Tennassarrim; quitting the service he shot tigers on Tiger Island before shipping out as 2nd mate from Calcutta to London; after being robbed of all his money and baggage in Liverpool, he shipped out as 2nd mate and worked the Liverpool-NY route for several years (2 as her master); he then worked the coastal trade between NY, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Cuba before joining the Massachusetts’ forces in the Civil War; after the war he worked various jobs and sailed to the Orient before settling in California (Guinn, 1902a, pgs. 1219-1220)

1887: The ship Ocean King (see May 07), bound from Nanaimo for San Pedro with a cargo of coal, is reported burned and abandoned by crew off Cape Arago

1898: Railroad commission questions Collis P. Huntington (see May 03) of the Southern Pacific about $6 million ($141 million in 2009 dollars using the consumer price index, or $1.32 billion using the nominal GDP per capita index) charged to “contingent expenses” prior to 1886; Huntington explained that most of it was used to promote the necessary “explaining” to legislators of the advantageous nature of legislation favored by the railroad; Huntington admitted that the failed attempt to explain the advantages of Santa Monica over San Pedro also cost a lot of money; when asked if they would produce a detailed statement of operating costs for 1895-96, the SP attorney replied they wouldn’t do so unless ordered by the court and such a statement would take “several years” to prepare (San Francisco Call, 05/14/1898, pg. 9)

1904: Steamer Alcatraz gutted by fire in San Pedro while at the San Pedro Lumber Company’s wharf; cabins burned and machinery destroyed (XXXX); caught fire at wharf; $5,000 in damages; investigation concluded “fire caused by gases generated in bilges from surplus fuel oil, blown therein by the engineers when cleaning boilers” license of Chief Engineer Oliver M. Dunston suspended for 90 days—reduced to 60 days on appeal (USDCL, 1906, pg. 332)

1923: IWW strike of Lumber and Marine Transport Workers ends in Oregon and Washington but 3,000 continue to strike in San Pedro where over 90 ships were stranded by the IWW action (an IWW pamphlet on its history referred to San Pedro as the “storm center” of the 1923 general strike); over 5,000 attend an IWW rally on Liberty Hill in San Pedro and over a 3-day period (05/13-15/1923) over 1,000 activists were arrested in San Pedro and shipped (via the Red Car line) to a temporary stockade in Griffith Park (Starr 1997, pg. 52; see also Schwartz 1986, pgs.64-65; Tyler, 1967, Chapter 7; Kimeldorf, 1988, pgs.33-34; Chacon and others, 2006, pgs. 50-51; Los Angeles Times, 05/14/1923 and 05/15/1923)


1988: Movie Maniac Cop is released in NY (09/09/1988 in LA); San Pedro’s Terminal Island doubled as the New York waterfront for the warehouse and climatic chase scenes (look for the Santa Fe railway bridge, divider reflectors, and palm trees not found in NY); watch trailers on YouTube (Trailer 1; Trailer 2) (IMDb; TCM; AFI; Wikipedia; Medved and Akiyaman 2006, pg. 54)


1996: Liberty Hill site is designated California Historical Landmark No. 1021; The following description of Liberty Hill (owned by Mrs. Minnie Davis) is quoted in Chacon and others, 2006 (pg. 51): “Rising two hundred feet above the level of Third Street, Liberty Hill had several flights of stone steps leading up to it. At its top were handmade wooden benches seating about 800 people, a small platform, six by nine feet, and standing room for several thousand. There, on the hill, the IWW held five meetings each week, with the meetings in English usually attended by between 1000-3000 people and those in Spanish by from 500-800.” Note: According to the Los Angeles City Directory (1915, pg. 2194), there was a Liberty Hall located at 266½ W. 5th Street; the name of the hill may have been derived from the location of the hall or the hall may have been named after the hill it was built on; on the 1908 Sanborn map the Liberty Hall building is labeled “Auditorium Theatre & Lodge Halls”; on the 1908 and 1921 Sanborn maps the bank of the hill between 3rd and 4th street was 25-30’ higher than the Palos Verdes Street cut on both sides of the street; in 1921 the old Liberty Hall was now a moving pictures theater with a lodge hall on the 2nd floor and the new “Liberty Auditorium Dance Hall” had been built at 7th and Centre Street (the building later became the 7th Street Garage and a frequent film location for movies and TV—in The Rock the Nicholas Cage vehicle flies through the building and crashes out through its front window)

14 May:

1889: U.S. senators visit San Pedro in the morning to inspect proposed improvements to inner and outer harbors; conclude that appropriations are needed for the improvements; in the evening they attend a party in Santa Monica hosted by Mrs. Senator Jones (see also May 01, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, and 21)

1900: New bids received to complete the breakwater construction begun by Heidmaier & Neu of Chicago (California Construction Co. of San Francisco bid $2,375,546.05)


1914: Movie A Busy Day—a.k.a., San Pedro (working title), Lady Charlie, Militant Suffragette, and Busy as Can Be—is released; slapstick short was directed, written (not credited) and starred Charlie Chaplin (in his 14th film); costars included Mack Swain, Phyllis Allen, Billy Gilbert, and producer Mack Sennett in a cameo as a newsreel director (plus hundreds of participants and spectators at a parade, band concert and speed boat contest); the 6-minute Keystone half-reel comedy was filmed entirely on location in Wilmington, CA (usually misidentified as San Pedro and sometimes as Venice), in a classic case of Keystone on-the-fly guerrilla filmmaking where cast and crew improvise a short at a public event; Chaplin was in drag as a jealous, bossy, possessive, and abusive wife—the only film in which he played a woman; film ends with Chaplin being pushed off the pier into the harbor (doing a nice back-flip dive); the short is usually credited as directed by Chaplin, but some claim it was directed by George Nichols (who also acted in The Unchanging Sea—see also May 05); released as a split reel with The Morning Papers;


You can view the entire film above, download it on Internet Archive or watch one of the versions on YouTube (same as IA; better copy; another; with Spanish audio; new restored version; with Russian title cards); Gifford (1974, pg. 45) reports it was Chaplin’s 2nd film as a director and Sennett had promised him a bonus of $25 if he could do a picture in one day—the film was shot, edited and shown (on 04/18/1914) in 7 days though not released for about a month (PSFL says on 05/07/1914 but most sources say 05/14/1914); the actual parade was on 04/11/1914 in Wilmington to celebrate the dedication of a new $200,000 municipal dock—a principal speaker was the young FDR, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy—see March 28 (IMDb; TCM; BFI; Wikipedia; PSFL; Fandango; Milton, 1998, pg. 71-72; Okuda & Maska, 2005, pgs. 40-41; Geduld, 1987; for coverage of the parade see Los Angeles Times, 04/05/1914, II13; 04/12/1914, pg.II1)

1917: Bureau of Immigration wooden-hulled motor launch USS Azalea, built in 1915 by the Joe Fellows Yacht and Launch Co. of Wilmington (see May 31), is commissioned into the U.S. Navy (becoming the 3rd Azalea to serve in the navy—the 1st was a Civil War tugboat and the 2nd was an 1891 lighthouse tender); the Azalea operated out of the section headquarters at San Pedro, CA, as an inspection boat patrolling the busy Los Angeles harbor (in the week ending 12/22/1917 she conducted 1,892 inspections); on 11/27/1918 she was turned over to the San Pedro Submarine Base and on 02/26/1919 she was returned to the Immigration Service—continuing to serve in the waters of San Pedro harbor until 1923 (NHHC)


1917: Movie The Lad and the Lion  is released; film is a boy-beast-boat story based on the adventure novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs—the first of many movies based on Burroughs’ writings; the 1st three movies all did location filming in San Pedro; the other 2 (both released in 1918) were Tarzan of the Apes and Romance of Tarzan (IMDb; TCM; AFI; ERBzine; AMC; Schneider, 2005, pgs. 13-24)

1923: Los Angeles Times (05/14/1923) publishes a red-scare article attacking the IWW’s Federation of Marine Transport Workers strike; article claims that after 2 years of infiltration, “Reds from the shores of the seven seas have mobilized at San Pedro for the purpose of putting Los Angeles Harbor on the blink”’

1934: 20-year-old longshoreman, Dick Parker, joins the ILA and is murdered a few hours later by a “security guard” at the strikebreakers’ blockade who shot into a large crowd of picketers; Tom Knudson would later die from injuries received at the same event (see May 15); after the shooting 500 ILD workers held a mock trial that blamed the shipowners and their henchmen (local government and police), the LA “Red Squad” and AFL officials responsible his death (Raineri, 1991, pg. 65); about 2 weeks later police carnage broke out in San Francisco’s Bloody Thursday (Wikipedia)

1941: Berth 88 wharf (1200’) and buildings fire

15 May:


1923: Upton Sinclair (author, Socialist, and future California gubernatorial candidate—1934), is arrested under the Criminal Syndicalism Act (in 1927 the act was upheld by the supreme court in Whitney v. California; in 1969 the decision was overruled and the act declared unconstitutional in the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision) for reading from the U.S. Constitution to 3,000 striking dockworkers on Liberty Hill in San Pedro (see May 01, 13 and 23); Sinclair and 3 other speakers were held incommunicado for 3 days; in 1924 Sinclair wrote his only musical, The Singing Jailbirds, based on the IWW San Pedro strike and its repression by authorities; the only known photo of Liberty Hill (taken in April or May of 1923) shows workers crowded into an elevated fenced-off area, Bob Bigelow on a speakers platform, and the Main Channel and Terminal Island (showing the Southwestern Shipyard) in the background (IWW-1; IWW-2; Wherever There’s a Fight)

1934: Strikers “attack” strikebreakers’ housing blockade in San Pedro; 2 unionists are killed (see also May 14 and 16) by stockade guards in the first mortal clash of the strike which had started on 05/09/1934 in all west coast ports (the violence began on the first day of the strike when police attacked 1000 picketers with their billy clubs at the San Francisco Embarcadero for violating the no-picketing law); on 05/15/1934 300 picketers marched down Neptune to the Grace Line stockade at Berth 145, where a ship was being unloaded by scabs; the marchers were met by hundreds of police, armed guards and strikebreakers; when the guards fired tear gas into the crowd, the strikers stormed and broke through the barricade; blockade defenders open-fired on the unionists—shooting 7 longshoremen (2 mortally); no police or strikebreakers were shot (ILWU19; Wikipedia; Daily Kos, 06/23/2008)

1937: Los Angeles Times (05/15/1937, pg. A1) reports that a vast numbers of cars and people from Los Angeles will be going to the Harbor Day festivities in San Pedro and Wilmington for “one of the greatest celebrations ever held in the port area” (the Harbor Day celebrations usurp the anniversary of the killing of strikers 3 years earlier—see above)


1943: The neutral flag (Irish) steamship Irish Oak (ex West Neris; built by Southwestern Shipbuilding of San Pedro in 1919) is sunk in the mid-Atlantic by U-607 only nine days before all U-boats were withdrawn from the battle of the Atlantic due to the loss of 41 U-boats that month (“Black May”); crew is rescued by the SS Irish Plane; U-607 was sunk 2 months later on 07/13/1943 (Wikipedia; Maritime Institute of Ireland; the painting by Kenneth King is owned by the National Maritime Museum of Ireland)


1951: Hostesses pose on ship and Red Car in San Pedro to promote World Trade Week (USCDL, examiner-m654)

2005: Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, OH (who tried to compete with Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary) is interviewed by Yumi Kikuchi at the Croatian Cultural Center in San Pedro, California (watch video clip on Internet Archive)

16 May:

1857: Los Angeles Star (05/16/1857, pg. 2) correspondent reports on developments at the Port of San Pedro; Wilmington (then called New San Pedro or New Town) “is not a place of much pretension, in the way of houses, but the few there, are occupied in the most profitable manner.”; businesses at the Banning & Wilson landing included a blacksmith shop, carriage manufactory, saddler, harness maker, “extensive” warehouses, stables and corrals, grocery/provisions/liquor store (owned by Benjamin Bachman), a hotel, the Customs House (under Deputy Collector J.F. Stevens), and a wharf for passengers and freight; at Timm’s landing (now the Southern Pacific Slip area) in “old” San Pedro a pier “of considerable extent” has been constructed (see below and February 16), and there is an “immense warehouse,” barges and boats for lightering passengers and freight, plus accommodations and refreshments for travelers


1857: Los Angeles Star (05/16/1857, pg. 2) reports that the new bird’s-eye view lithograph of Los Angeles from Hellman & Bro. is “a very creditable picture of our city” and has “a very correct drawing of Timms’ Landing at San Pedro” (see February 16 for a larger copy of the drawing from 1870)

1889: U.S. Senate Committee on Trade Relations with Canada stops in Sacramento after examining San Pedro and other California harbors

1901: University of California announces it will undertake a biological survey of the ocean waters along the California coast; at San Pedro they will study the physical environment of marine life and the material collected with dredge, trawl or tow net; courses will also be offered at San Pedro for biology teachers (San Francisco Call, 05/17/1901, pg. 11)


1920: Successful movie Shore Acres (IMDb; TCM; AFI; PSFL) is released (according to IMDb—AFI  reports it was released in February); Director: Rex Ingram; Stars: Alice Lake, Robert Walker and Edward Connelly; the Morrison Music Company’s sheet music for the song “Love’s Ship” (written by Alice Nadine Morrison and Nellie Morrison) featured in the movie sold a million copies (HistoryLink Essay 7548); film was praised for the location work shot at Laguna and San Pedro of a rocky coastline and the storm scene (O’Leary, 1993,pg. 66); Captain T.P.H. Whitelaw of San Francisco’s Whitelaw Wrecking Co., built a large wooden tank on a wharf for the film’s climatic storm scene, a smack was pulled through the tank as pumps shot water over the boat (Powers, 2009, pg. 182)

1923: New York Times (05/17/1923) reports Upton Sinclair is held for “Breach of Peace” for trying to hold a forbidden meeting in San Pedro; Arraignment charges “conspiracy to commit a breach of the peace and obstruct traffic”; Los Angeles Times (05/17/1923) reports that in the late afternoon Sinclair was arraigned in a police court for “conspiracy to commit a crime” and was released after paying a $500 bail (see May 15)

1934: New York Times (05/16/1934) misreports that “rioters” (unionists or strikers) in San Pedro fired on the stockade housing “nonunion men” (strikebreakers or scabs) (see May 14 and 15)


1979: The SS Catalina (affectionately known as “The Great White Steamship”; built in 1924—see May 23) is declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the city of Los Angeles; after serving the San Pedro-Avalon run for about half a century, the ship moved to Mexico and became a looted derelict grounded on a sandbar in Ensenada;



The above YouTube video is from an old super 8 home movie posted by the Catalina Island Museum and filmed around 1972, showing one of the last trips of the Great White Steamship from San Pedro to Catalina Island before being sold to Mexico—ending with a later shot of the ship stuck on the sandbar; like many “old-timers” in San Pedro, I have a favorite memory of the ship: the 1st time I asked a woman to dance was on the Catalina in 1970; I was amazed by the number of beautiful women accompanied by “old ladies” on the trip, and as a precocious but naive 13-year-old (who passed for someone 5 years older) I built up the nerve to ask one of them to dance; when she had to ask permission I found out I was sharing the trip with all of the Miss Universe contestants and their chaperones—and the 1st woman I dance with was Miss France (luckily her chaperone granted us permission);


The SS Catalina is now nothing but a memory; she was scrapped in 2009 after rotting for 12 years in Ensenada Harbor (despite also being declared a California Historic Landmark and its listing on the National Register of Historic Places); preservation efforts in the 1990s failed after endless financial problems and legal actions (see also Cruising the Past)

17 May:


1876: William Workman (also known as Don Julian) commits suicide at his La Puente home with a revolver; his Temple and Workman Bank of Los Angeles (founded in 1868 as the banking house of Hellman, Temple & Co.) had recently failed due to the panic of 1875 and poor management by Workman’s son-in-law, and partner in the bank, F.P.F. Temple (see February 12)

1882: James Smith, long-time resident of Wilmington, found dead in a small boat anchored outside the San Pedro sandbar after being missing for 3 days; cause of death unknown

1924: Ku Klux Klan raids the IWW hall at 12th and Centre in San Pedro (see also March 01)

1940: Movie Typhoon (IMDb; TCM; AFI) is released; Director: Louis King; Stars: Dorothy Lamour, Robert Preston, Lynne Overman, J. Carrol Naish, with Jack Carson; more than half of the movie was filmed on Santa Catalina Island, CA; additional scenes were filmed at Baldwin Dry Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest and at the LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Arcadia, CA; received an Academy Award nomination for Special Effects

1945: Fleet oiler replenisher USS Schuylkill (AO-76; ex Louisburg; 140,000-barrel cargo capacity; launched 02/16/1943; commissioned 04/09/1943; reclassified AOT-76; 7 WWII battle stars) arrives in San Pedro after duty in Ulithi (where she received a “well done” from the task group commander for delivering 30,748 barrels of fuel in one day despite a badly damaged bulkhead) for overhaul, repairs and alterations; on 07/23/1945 during post repair sea trials the Schuylkill engine broke down and she was towed back to port; on 07/25/1945 she left San Pedro and returned to Ulithi; although decommissioned on 02/14/1946, the Schuylkill was reacquired by the Navy and served another 4 decades—she was struck from the register on 03/31/1986 (NHHC; NavSource)


1954: Harbor Day Hostesses nominated by the San Pedro Junior Chamber of Commerce pose on the dock at Berth 90 in San Pedro and wave to the Norwegian ship Tangried, in full dress flags to celebrate the 17th of May (Norway's “Fourth of July”) (USCDL, examiner-m18508)

1957: Formal dedication ceremonies held at Crestwood Street Elementary School in San Pedro; school was built to fill the needs of the new residential district in the Western Avenue area (USCDL, examiner-m19384)

1958: Two Harbor Day hostesses pose on the Cabrillo Beach entrance anchors (dedicated 11/24/1957) to promote the 05/24/1958 festivities (USCDL, examiner-m17317); the entrance anchor was replaced by the statue of Senator Stephen N. White in 1989 (see February 23); the 2 4-ton anchors located on Harbor Blvd. (just below the Muller House) are the same ones that used to be at Cabrillo (Schaadt and Mastro, 2008, pgs. 45-46)

1977: Terminal Island prison (FCI Terminal Island) fire, Berth 250

18 May:

1902: Small passenger steamer Warrior arrives in San Pedro 3 hours late when caught in fierce gale on run from Avalon, Santa Catalina Island; conductor from the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake road, S.S. Knight, was lifted off his feet washed overboard when the sea broke over the entire boat from stem to stern half way across the channel; Knight is presumed lost but the crew successfully rescued J.C. Herrick who leaped into the sea when he mistook a floating hat for his wife (San Francisco Call, 05/191902, pg 2; Idaho Daily Statesman, 05/20/1902 transcribed in GenDisasters 12/17/2007)

1903: Articles of incorporation filed for the Harbor Steam Laundry Company headquartered in San Pedro, California (No. 37,812; $20,000 capital stock)

1903: San Pedro local of the Federal Labor Union goes on strike to support lumber workers at Fort Bragg and Redondo Beach by refusing to unload the lumber laden steamers Noyo and Lakme; 40 San Pedro dock workers are discharged; after 2 hours the seamen on the Noyo also refused to work; the San Pedro Lumber Company uses a force of deputy sheriffs to protect its property; San Pedro locals of the Federal and Sailors’ unions hold a special joint meeting in case a general strike is ordered (San Francisco Call, 05/19/ 1903, pg 10)

1914: Documentary movie The Capture of a Sea Elephant and Hunting Wild Game in the South Pacific Islands (IMDb; TCM; AFI) is released (July 1914 according to TCM); filming locations included Point Fermin Park, San Pedro harbor, Santa Catalina Island and the South Pacific; produced and distributed by Albert Blinkhorn, of Blinkhorn's Natural History Travels; film traces voyage through the South Pacific tracking the path of the almost extinct sea elephant; team captured and brought back several smaller specimens—which apparently perplexed customs officials in San Pedro who didn’t know how to classify them under the new Underwood tariff law (Los Angeles Times, 10/08/1913; 11/06/1914);


A similar 1913 expedition (see The Wide world, Vol. 43, pgs. 485-491) from San Pedro to Guadalupe Island to film sea elephants ended with the film stock being seized by San Pedro customs and the entire herd being wiped out by hunters before the film crew could return and attempt a capture; N.C. Parkhurst’s Ocean-to-Ocean Motion Picture Company 1st left San Pedro on 06/14/1913 to film the south coast islands for 2 weeks on the fast motorboat O.D.; on 07/14/1913 they left again for Guadalupe Island (Los Angeles Times, 06/14/1913; 07/13/1913);


On 08/08/1913 Captain Charles E. Davis, the colorful proprietor of the Hell’s Kitchen café, dance hall and boat landing on Mullet Island in the Salton Sea (see Laflin, 1995, Chapter 8), complained of a “sea-elephant swindle” and on 08/29/1913 he returned from Guadalupe Island and reported the slaughter of the entire herd (Los Angeles Times, 08/08/1913; 08/30/1913); Davis once tried to populate the Salton Sea with captured sea lions and also bought a large San Pedro fishing barge and trucked it to the inland sea to make it a showboat attraction—but it sank; Davis is also known for retracing the 2000-mile trip of the ill-fated Donner Party in 1927/28 (see the Sutter’s Fort archive)

1935: General Evangeline Cory Booth, international commander of the Salvation Army, arrives in San Pedro from Hawaii on her around-the-world tour (New York Times, 05/19/1935)

1943: Japanese I-25 submarine torpedoes, shells and sinks the 10,763-ton American tanker H.M. Storey (at 17-30S; 173-02E) while en route to San Pedro from New Caledonia; destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445) rescues survivors; the tanker had earlier unharmed when attacked by the I-19 off the California coast southwest of Cape Mendocino on 12/23/1941 (Combined Fleet; ww2pacific)


1952: Soldier from Camp Roberts, Juan Salas, falls asleep at wheel on Pacific Coast Highway and wakes up in Bixby Slough (now called Machado Lake—see Ecosystem Redevelopment Project) a half mile east of Vermont Avenue; very wet driver is uninjured but submerged coup is stuck in the mud and muck (USCDL, examiner-m10995)

2012: Action Sci-Fi movie Battleship (IMDb; TCM; Wikipedia) scheduled for release; rescheduled for 05/25/2012; directed by Peter Berg (who once worked on the docks at San Pedro); Starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson; now in post-production, the movie filmed on location in San Pedro on 09/27/2010 at 1167 W. Paseo Del Mar and 3833 S. Pacific Ave. (OLV, 09/27/2010); estimated budget of $200 million

19 May:

1828: Congress passed the Tariff of Abominations, which taxed imported manufactured goods in an attempt to protect Northern industry—leading to the Nullification Crisis; South Carolina threatened secession if the federal government attempted to enforce the tariff

1851: Decree of the Court of Sessions, County of LA (certified 05/24/1851), established Caminos Publicos or Caminos Reales (public highways): “San Pedro Road: First by the plain called ‘Punta de La Laguna’ and Palos Verdes to San Pedro, Second to the rancho of Los Cuervos, the rancho of Los Dominguez, Palos Verdes to San Pedro”; decree defines the two historic roads from the old pueblo to San Pedro: one via the point of the lagoon (used by Stockton when he marched to LA in August 1946) and the other via the rancho (used by Mervine in his failed march to LA in October 1946) (“The Old Highways of Los Angeles” by J.M. Guinn, in Historical Society of Southern California 1905, Vol. 6, Part 3, pgs. 253-257)


1883: An 80’ long “sea-serpent” with a head as large as a hogshead is reported seen on a beach between Santa Monica and San Pedro (source?); reports from Monterey to Mexico of California sea serpents are believed to sightings of deep sea oarfish which spawn off Mexico from July to August; adult oarfish are rarely seen except when sick or injured (for more recent images of oarfish caught or washed ashore in Malibu, San Diego and Baja California see Dapper Cadaver; The Angle; KTLA; Desh Forum)

1912: Body of murdered man is found floating in the San Pedro inner harbor by a fisherman; the 200-pound body of a 6’1” man was tied to a 40-pound 6’ long iron bar; skull was fractured in 2 places and hands were tied with heavy cord; right arm was also broken and badly discolored; several fingers of the left hand were fractured; body had been in the water for about a week; only lead to identification is a 04/01/1912 issue of the Christian Science Monitor from the reading room of the I.W. Hellman building in LA; body attire suggested that of a well-off clergyman (San Francisco Call, 05/20/912, pg. 1); 4 days later the body is identified by C.W. Verden as his uncle (Los Angeles Times, 05/23/1912); 4 days later William H. Rein, the son of the supposed dead man, arrives and rejects the identification—claims his father fled town to escape prosecution for bigamy—the 2nd Mrs. Rein has already received the body for burial (Los Angeles Times, 05/27/1912, pg. I12); body may have been the victim of a "pirate car" gang which runs down people with an automobile in order to rob them (Los Angeles Times, 06/02/1912, pg. II1)

1935: General Evageline Cory Booth, international commander of the Salvation Army, arrives in San Pedro from Hawaii on her around-the-world trip—bringing her “enthusiastic belief that the world is rapidly coming to recognize youth as the driving force behind its advancement” (New York Times, 05/19/1935)


1952: World Trade Week hosts a floating fashion show in San Pedro for women business and civic leaders from Los Angeles on the Ace ferry (USCDL, examiner-m11098)

1954: Admiral Howard F. Kingman of the Harbor Board poses with beauty queens (Miss San Pedro, Miss Wilmington, Miss Los Angeles and Miss World Trade) for the Los Angeles Examiner to promote Harbor Day (USCDL, examiner-m18562)

1983: 3rd successful relay Channel Swim (Pomona College; Catalina to mainland; 9 hours: 53 minutes: 12 seconds)


1987: The Spanish Colonial style Wilmington Branch Library (built in 1927; designated an Historic-Cultural Monument on 06/27/1986) at 309 W. Opp Street (and several other branch libraries in Los Angeles) is added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of a thematic group submission

20 May:

1897: Secretary Alger responds to Senate resolution calling for statement on progress making contracts for improving the San Pedro harbor; Secretary stalls by passing the buck back to Congress for further instructions—claims that if all of the $2.95 million appropriation is spent on the breakwater another appropriation of up to $5.4 million will be needed to make the harbor suitable for commerce (New York Times, 05/21/1897)

1952: Miss World Trade and the San Pedro, Long Beach and Wilmington Princesses join Harbor Commissioners at World Trade Week’s (05/18-25/1952) Industrial Day luncheon in the American President Lines' new terminal (USCDL, examiner-m11100)

1952: Police pose for the newspapers as they inventory the loot confiscated when an auto theft ring is broken up in San Pedro (USCDL, examiner-m11468)


2008: Movie Black Ops (estimated budget $350,000-$1 million) is released direct to video in the U.S; filmed on location aboard the SS Lane Victory at Pier 94 in San Pedro; released as Deadwater in the European Union and Nazi Dawn in Great Britain; watch trailer at kino-zeit and another at metacafe; movie was a failed attempt to merge supernatural horror and military/terrorist action/adventure genres (IMDb; TCM; Wikipedia; flickeringmyth; Horror News, 09/28/2010)


2010: White Point Nature Education Center opens 10 years after the 102-acre preserve was declared a protected open space (Daily Breeze, 05/20/2010); the White Point Nature Preserve (above Paseo del Mar in San Pedro; see Master Plan) is owned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and managed by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (see also Wikipedia) since 2001; the old Cold War era Nike Missile site (with 2 WWII era batteries) was given to LA City by the federal government in 1978 to be used as a public park but the city blocked public access with a chain link fence for 2 decades (which didn’t stop 2 generations of San Pedro youths from exploring the area and making their own use of the property); on 05/06/2000 it was formally dedicated as a nature preserve; in August 2000 the State Historic Resources Commission designated the Battery Paul D. Bunker and Nike missile facility as a state historic district; in 2001 the Conservancy received a management contract for the preserve and began its restoration with the planting of native plants and historical gardens and the establishment of nature trails; site also includes the location of the Ramon Sepulveda homestead (see images at California Open Space and flickr)


2011: Movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (IMDb; TCM; Wikipedia) is released; location shooting included Puerto Rico, Hawaii, England, Long Beach and San Pedro (in August 2010—see OLV, 08/22/2010; JDR, 08/21/2010; and Ombrello Blu)

See Also May in San Pedro: Part One and Part Three


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