LASA and the LA Harbor

Harbor Banner

On March 21, we met downtown at the Los Angeles Public Library.  We started things off with a wonderful presentation about Food Forward ( given by our very own Occidental intern Lillian Krovoza.  It was a terrific introduction to a grassroots organization which harvests fruit and vegetables from across greater Los Angeles and gets them out to the neediest in our community.  Lillian has been with the organization awhile, and she urged LASA students to become more aware of the sheer amount of backyard fruit which goes to waste.

Following Lillian, Bill spoke to the group about the history of the LA Harbor, taking us back to the late 19th century and the so-called “Free Harbor Fight.”  He reminded us that, had the Southern Pacific gotten its way, the Los Angeles harbor would not be where it is today, but would rather be in Santa Monica.  We learned about the “shoestring” annexation of the harbor district to Los Angeles in 1913 (for the $), and we learned about some of the big players involved in cajoling the federal government into investing huge sums of money used to dig the harbor out from the ocean floor, ca. 1900.

Then it was time to go see for ourselves.  We boarded our Fast Deer bus and went down to the ocean slip near the Long Beach Aquarium.  We had a big boat to ourselves, and we toured the inner and outer harbors of both Long Beach and the LA Harbor.  The sheer scale of the operation made much more sense when we could see it all and could try to count the barges waiting offshore to be unloaded (they are HUGE) or the hundreds and hundreds of containers we saw lined up, stacked, and being loaded or off loaded.  Knowing that 40% of all goods that come to the United States pass first through the harbor complex reminded us of just how big an economic driver this place is to LA, to California, to the West, to the nation.

We came, we saw, we learned. Next up: Dodger Stadium for an insider’s tour!