Guide Tour of Port of Los Angeles, California, United States

The Port of Los Angeles, also promoted as “America’s Port”, is a seaport managed by the Los Angeles Harbor Department, a unit of the City of Los Angeles. The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier gateway for international commerce and the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere. As of a report from the Port released 2020, its top three trading partners were China, Japan, and Vietnam.

Located in San Pedro Bay, 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the Port encompasses 7,500 acres of land and water along 43 miles of waterfront. The Port’s Channel Depth is 53 feet (16 m). The port has 25 cargo terminals, 82 container cranes, 8 container terminals, and 113 miles (182 km) of on-dock rail.

Handling diverse commodities from avocado to zinc, the Port of Los Angeles features both passenger and cargo terminals, including cruise, container, automobile, breakbulk, dry and liquid bulk, and warehouse facilities that manage billions of dollars’ worth of cargo each year. The port’s top imports were furniture, automobile parts, apparel, footwear, and electronics. In 2019, the port’s top exports were wastepaper, pet and animal feed, scrap metal and soybeans.

A surge of pandemic-induced consumer spending boost volumes, In 2020, the Port moved 9.2 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), sustaining its top rank among U.S. ports. In June 2021, the Port of Los Angeles became the first port in the Western Hemisphere to process 10 million container units in a 12‑month period. In May 2021, the Port processed more than 1 million TEUs— the busiest month ever in the Port’s 114-year history and the first time a Western Hemisphere port has reached the 1 million milestone in one month.

The port is widespread attention due to supply chain issues. The cargo coming into the port represents approximately 20% of all cargo coming into the United States in 2019, But quickly jumped to approximately 40% in 2021. New solution plan currently in the midst of a multi-year, $2.6 billion infrastructure investment program aimed at raising the bar for cargo efficiency, the Port is also focused on new technologies to enhance digital information flow throughout the supply chain.

The Port is a major economic driver at the local, regional, and national levels, and a key generator of jobs, commerce and tourism in Southern California. In California alone, nearly 1 million jobs are related to trade through the Port of Los Angeles. One in nine jobs across the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura is connected to the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, which includes the Port of Los Angeles and its neighboring Port of Long Beach. The San Pedro Bay Port Complex wields tremendous economic impact, generating employment for nearly 3 million Americans nationwide.

This thriving seaport is also known for groundbreaking environmental initiatives and remains committed to managing resources and conducting developments and operations in both an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner. The Port has also built a strong reputation for its progressive security measures and community engagement. For the last decade, the Port has also been at the forefront of revitalization of the LA Waterfront, improving public access to the water, developing public-friendly amenities and infrastructure, and transforming the harbor shoreline into a world-class visitor destination.

In 1542, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo discovered the “Bay of Smokes.” The south-facing San Pedro Bay was originally a shallow mudflat, too soft to support a wharf. Visiting ships had two choices: stay far out at anchor and have their goods and passengers ferried to shore, or beach themselves.

Phineas Banning greatly improved shipping when he dredged the channel to Wilmington in 1871 to a depth of 10 feet (3.0 m). The port handled 50,000 tons of shipping that year. Banning owned a stagecoach line with routes connecting San Pedro to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Yuma, Arizona, and in 1868 he built a railroad to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles, the first in the area.

After Banning’s death in 1885, his sons pursued their interests in promoting the port, which handled 500,000 tons of shipping in that year. The Southern Pacific Railroad and Collis P. Huntington wanted to create Port Los Angeles at Santa Monica and built the Long Wharf there in 1893. With U.S. government support, breakwater construction began in 1899, and the area was annexed to Los Angeles in 1909. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners was founded in 1907.

In 1912 the Southern Pacific Railroad completed its first major wharf at the port. During the 1920s, the port surpassed San Francisco as the West Coast’s busiest seaport. In the early 1930s, a massive expansion of the port was undertaken with the construction of a breakwater three miles out and over two miles in length. In addition to the construction of this outer breakwater, an inner breakwater was built off Terminal Island with docks for seagoing ships and smaller docks built at Long Beach. It was this improved harbor that hosted the sailing events for the 1932 Summer Olympics.

During World War II, the port was primarily used for shipbuilding, employing more than 90,000 people. In 1959, Matson Navigation Company’s Hawaiian Merchant delivered 20 containers to the port, beginning the port’s shift to containerization. The opening of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in 1963 greatly improved access to Terminal Island and allowed increased traffic and further expansion of the port. In 1985, the port handled one million containers in a year for the first time.

During the 2002 West Coast port labor lockout, the port had a large backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded at any given time. Many analysts believe that the port’s traffic may have exceeded its physical capacity as well as the capacity of local freeway and railroad systems. The chronic congestion at the port caused ripple effects throughout the American economy, such as disrupting just-in-time inventory practices at many companies. In 2000, the Pier 400 Dredging and Landfill Program, the largest such project in America, was completed. By 2013, more than half a million containers were moving through the Port every month.

The Port Nowaday
The Port of Los Angeles moves more containers than any other port in the Western Hemisphere and is North America’s largest trade gateway based on container volumes and value of trade. With state-of-the-art facilities under continuous modernization, we annually invest in capital improvements to ensure that shippers worldwide have access to a broad selection of carrier and service offerings, superior cargo terminals, outstanding rail transport to and from the U.S. interior, robust drayage resources and an unmatched regional portfolio of warehouse and distribution centers.

With the nation’s largest on-dock rail assets, LA Port offer the highest frequency of intermodal access to 14 major freight hubs across the U.S. LA Port‘s growing digital technology infrastructure, provides shippers and their supply chain partners reliability, predictability and line-of-sight planning capabilities that help assure maximum cargo efficiency and speed to market.

The Port of Los Angeles remains focused on supply chain efficiency and optimization, providing enhanced visibility, efficiency and choice for cargo owners. As the #1 container port in North America, the Port of Los Angeles is committed to transparency and efficiency in all LA Port‘s processes.

The Port of Los Angeles is an economic engine with a wide array of diverse uses and community benefits. The Port’s success has been built upon its unique value proposition that provides for infrastructure-supporting economies of scale, as well as fast, consistent access to national markets.

The Port’s container business accounts for more than 80% of revenue and thousands of jobs in the region. Maintaining containerized cargo business is necessary to continue to invest in the future of the Port and community.

A critical focus for the Port of Los Angeles, the supply chain is made up of all the entities, companies, resources, technology and activities needed to get a product from concept to consumer. The Port works regularly with its supply chain partners to continually improve and maximize efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

The Port of Los Angeles and supply chain partners provide outstanding cargo conveyance through modernized marine terminal facilities; a large workforce of skilled longshore labor; warehouse and transloading centers to meet the needs of every shipper; and the nation’s largest and newest drayage fleet.

Port district
The port district is an independent, self-supporting department of the government of the City of Los Angeles. The port is under the control of a five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council, and is administered by an executive director. The port maintains an AA bond rating, the highest rating attainable for self-funded ports.

As of 2016, the port had about a dozen pilots, including two chiefs. Pilots have specialized knowledge of the harbor and San Pedro Bay. They meet the ships waiting to enter the harbor and provide advice as the vessel is steered through the congested waterway to the dock.

For public safety protection inside the port and of its businesses, the Port of Los Angeles utilizes the Los Angeles Port Police for police service, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) to provide fire and EMS services, the U.S. Coast Guard for waterway security, Homeland Security to protect federal land at the port, the Los Angeles County Lifeguards to provide lifeguard services for open waters outside of the harbor, while Los Angeles City Recreation & Parks Department lifeguards patrol the inner Cabrillo Beach.

World Cruise Center
The Port’s World Cruise Center, located in the San Pedro District beneath the Vincent Thomas Bridge, has three passenger ship berths transporting over 1 million passengers annually, making it the largest cruise ship terminal on the West Coast of the United States. It is linked to the waterfront attractions USS Iowa Museum and Los Angeles Maritime Museum by a pedestrian promenade, as well as the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and other San Pedro attractions by the Waterfront Red Car trolley/shuttle.

LA Waterfront
A hidden gem of local culture, history, eclectic shops and delicious cuisine, the LA Waterfront is a destination that amazes and delights millions of visitors each year. Set against the backdrop of America’s busiest port, the Port of Los Angeles, and just 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the LA Waterfront features expansive marinas and beaches, museums and historical landmarks, award-winning open spaces and a flourishing downtown art scene.

The LA Waterfront is a visitor-serving destination in the city of Los Angeles, funded and maintained by the Port of Los Angeles. In 2009, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the San Pedro Waterfront and Wilmington Waterfront development programs, under the LA Waterfront umbrella. The LA Waterfront consists of a series of waterfront development and community enhancement projects covering more than 400 acres (160 ha) of existing Port of Los Angeles property in both San Pedro and Wilmington.

Since the inception of the LA Waterfront, the Port of LA has successfully planned, invested and developed a significant number of waterfront properties and public open spaces. The LA Waterfront consists of a series of waterfront developments and community enhancement projects encompassing more than 400 acres of existing Port of LA property in the communities of San Pedro and Wilmington. The footprint of the LA Waterfront has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years, and there is much more to come. The Port of LA is committed to projects that provide additional open space and encourage public access.

With miles of public promenade and walking paths, acres of open space and scenic views, the LA Waterfront attracts thousands of visitors annually. Remodel and reconstruction was approved by the Los Angeles City Council. Development is set to be completed in 2020. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 at a partial project cost of $90 million, paid by the developer. The San Pedro Public Market is expected to open in 2020, with demolition beginning as early as November 2016.

The Waterfront Red Car is a currently non-operational heritage trolley line for public transit along the waterfront in San Pedro. Prior to its closure in 2015, it used vintage and restored Pacific Electric Red Cars to connect the World Cruise Center, Downtown San Pedro, Ports O’ Call Village, and the San Pedro Marina.

For decades, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on the LA Waterfront has been a favorite spot for families, students and tourists interested in exploring the marine life that lives in and around the Port of Los Angeles. That experience is about to get even better, thanks to a host of renovations and updates that will make exploring the underwater world of Southern California even more engaging.

The Trani Family will open a new Dockside Station Restaurant at the site of former iconic Canetti’s Seafood Grotto, housed in the original U.S. Immigration Station Building. The ground-floor restaurant concept is being built by the Trani family of San Pedro, owners of the popular J. Trani’s Ristorante on 9th Street in San Pedro. Trani’s Dockside Station will be located at the former Canetti’s Seafood Grotto, a legendary eatery that occupied a portion of the 100-year-old building from the 1950s to 2010.

Progress continues on the San Pedro Town Square and Promenade project, a $36 million development on the LA Waterfront funded by the Port of Los Angeles that will create a new central gathering space, as well as a promenade connecting attractions and points of interest along the harbor’s Main Channel.

Environmental Program
The $2.8 million San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Program (CAAP) initiative was implemented by the Board of Harbor Commissioners in October 2002 for terminal and ship operations programs targeted at reducing polluting emissions from vessels and cargo handling equipment. To accelerate implementation of emission reductions through the use of new and cleaner-burning equipment, the port has allocated more than $52 million in additional funding for the CAAP through 2008.

As of May, 2016, the Port of Los Angeles has already surpassed its initial 2023 emission goals 8 years ahead of predicted time frame. The dramatic success to reduce emissions has seen a decrease in diesel particulate matter reduce 72%, sulfur oxides by 93%, and nitrogen oxide by 22% so far. The CAAP program was updated to 3.0 after this environmental successes of the initiatives. With the recent ramification of environment goals the updates will look to reduce the emissions through efficient supply chain optimization. There has also been recent developments to increase port technologies advancement to promote the development of efficient and green port technologies. The CAAP also looks to be the lead role caretaker of fostering and improving the wildlife and ecosystem of the port.