Presents from the Past

History buff?  Museum guru? You won’t be disappointed. The LA Waterfront has a rich history, dating back to the mid-1500s when Portuguese explorers named this natural harbor "Bay of Smokes" after the numerous campfires of its Native American inhabitants. Start your journey with a step back in time to the LA Maritime Museum - learn about the Port's establishment in the early 1900s, when trade took root, fishing villages flourished and the cannery industry was at its peak. Flash forward for some unique historical moments, like the filming of the 1970's hit television series "The Love Boat" in the harbor or the favorite spots where late author Charles Bukowski's wrote some of his best work. The LA Waterfront is home to several designated historic sites providing a wealth of history to discover and explore.   

Learn about the incredible history of the LA Waterfront with stops at its many museums. From Civil War times to late 19th Century to the modern day operations of the nation’s busiest cargo port – the LA Waterfront is the only place in Southern California where you can find ten museums in a ten mile radius.

Check out the area’s early beginnings at the Banning Museum, the history of the harbor at the LA Maritime Museum, or climb aboard the Battleship IOWA for a unique educational experience on the famed warship. Let the journey begin!

Historical Landmarks and Museums

Angels Gate Lighthouse
This iconic landmark greets vessels at the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles. Built in 1913 and restored 100 years later, it is one of the rare lighthouses in the world emerald-green beacon.

The Arcade Building
Located at 479 West 6th Street, San Pedro, the Arcade Building began as Alessandro Flats, a duplex, built by Alessandro (anglicized to Alex) Carresi in 1919. In 1924, part of the original duplex was raised and supported while the new Arcade Building was built beneath it. The original duplex became a third floor penthouse. In 1985, the building was restored.

Banning Museum

This former residence of General Phineas Banning, a founder of the City of Los Angeles, was built in 1864. An extensive collection of Victorian decorative arts and furnishings are housed in this 23-room Greek Revival mansion situated on 20-acre park in Wilmington.

Battleship IOWA
Commissioned in 1943, this 887-foot, 45,000-ton World War II battleship has been designated the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship” because of her power, speed, heavy armor, longevity and modern technology.  
The USS IOWA served our country for over 50 years and no other battleship in our nation’s history has been host to more U.S. Presidents than the IOWA.

Cabrillo Beach Bath House
Built in 1932 and used for boating events during the 1932 Summer Olympics, it is the last remaining historic bathhouse in Southern California.  The Mediterranean-style​ bathhouse was the hub of marine activities at Cabrillo Beach, including the original site of the  Cabrillo Beach Museum (now the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium).  

Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
The Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is a 16-room structure which once stood among 19 similar buildings on 60 acres of land, and is now the only Civil War-era U.S. Army building still standing in Southern California.  Serving as the main training, staging and supply depot for military operations in Arizona and Southern California and New Mexico, the museum, located in the original junior officers’ quarters, displays historical artifacts including an operable Gatling Gun.

Fort MacArthur Museum and Military Base
Established in 1985 and dedicated to the history of Fort MacArthur, was once a U.S. Army post which guarded the Los Angeles harbor from 1914 to 1974.  This unique museum is housed in the corridors and galleries of historic Battery Osgood-Farley, a key historical structure which enabled the U.S. Army to defend the American continental coastline from invasion. 

Korean Friendship Bell
The Korean Friendship bell and Pavilion were donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea to celebrate the bicentennial of the U.S. independence, honor veterans of the Korean War and as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.  The bell sits on a hill in Angel's Gate Park with a panoramic view of Catalina Island and the Port of Los Angeles. This intricately carved bell is modeled after the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok which was cast in 771 for the Bongdeok Temple of Korea. 

Los Angeles Maritime Museum
The Museum is located in the 1941 Municipal Ferry Terminal, now on the National Register of Historic Places. From 1941-1963, a ferry system transported thousands of passengers to the canneries, shipyards, and military bases from San Pedro to a sister building on Terminal Island.  The completely restored building is now home to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, featuring exhibits and artifacts highlighting the maritime history of Los Angeles.

Muller House Museum
Built In 1899, and purchased by Shipbuilder William Muller in 1901.  The Muller House was moved twice from its original location to its final spot on a bluff overlooking Harbor Blvd. and the Port of Los Angeles.
This Cultural Heritage Monument showcases Muller family items, San Pedro Historical Society archives items, memorabilia as well as contributions from peoples’ personal collections, offering visitors a glimpse in to Harbor life in the early 1900s.  ​

Old Fire Station 36
Old Fire Station 36 is housed in City Hall, one of the oldest buildings still standing in downtown San Pedro.  WIth its unique collection of LAFD artifacts, photographs and two vintage fire engine trucks, this free museum has something for visitors of all ages.

Point Fermin Lighthouse
Built in 1874, San Pedro's first lighthouse was petitioned by Phinneas Banning, and for nearly 100 years guided ships safely away from the treacherous cliffs with its impressive 10,000-candlepower seaward beam.  Restored in 2002, the Stick Style Victorian lighthouse, with gabled roof and hand carved porch railings is open to the public for tours through the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Ralph J. Scott Fireboat
This fireboat was commissioned in 1925 and served the LA Fire Department until 2003. Currently on display near Fire Station 112 at the LA Waterfront, the fireboat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

San Pedro Municipal Ferry Building
Completed in 1941, the building originally provided ferry services, transporting vehicles and passengers on double-decked ferry boats across the Port of LA’s Main Channel to a sister building on Terminal Island.  The building now houses the LA Maritime Museum.

S.S. Lane Victory
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 10,000-ton, fully operational World War II cargo ship has been restored and serves as a living memorial to the civilian Merchant Marine and Naval Armed Guardsmen lost at sea.

U.S. Post Office, San Pedro

Constructed in 1936 as a Public Works Administration project, this post office formerly served as a U.S. Customs Office. The building showcases an extensive use of marble, bronze and milk glass that are indicative of the Art Deco period. The mail transportation oil-on-canvas mural depicts how mail is transported no matter the conditions.

Vincent Thomas Bridge
Built in 1963, the bridge serves as the City of Los Angeles’ official welcoming monument. Rising 35 stories above the nation's busiest container port, it is the only suspension bridge in the world supported entirely on piles and the third longest suspension bridge in California. The Vincent Thomas Bridge connects Terminal Island with the communities of Wilmington and San Pedro.