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Port of Los Angeles Virtual History Tour
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Learn about the products that California has historically provided to the rest of the world via exportation through the Port of Los Angeles..

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Pre-World War I

Improved transportation to and from the Harbor at the end of the 19th century had a significant effect on the growth pattern of Los Angeles, which, at that time, was expanding at an enormous rate. From a population in 1880 of 11,000, the city grew to 50,000 by 1890, and later to 102,000 by the turn of the century. The increased population brought with it the need for more construction and living supplies, including lumber, to build homes and businesses. Many of these products came from ships destined for San Pedro shores.

Tanks and Trains at Berth 174
Tanks and Trains at Berth 174

By 1913, the Port served as the world's largest lumber importer. During this era, boat building, fishing, and canning trades also grew rapidly at the Port. During World War I, the Port was one of the chief sources of employment for residents of the area. Shipbuilding enterprises, including Southwestern Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, began turning out vessels by the dozens for the war effort. (For more on shipbuilding at the Port, please go to the Berth 240 link).

Shipping Trends at the Port
Shipping Trends at the Port of Los Angeles
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In the period following the end of World War I, the Port was increasingly used for the importation of raw materials. As with the prewar period, approximately 98% of the inbound cargo to the Port consisted of lumber to satisfy the rapid growth of the Los Angeles area. Exceptional new construction of houses and factories made it necessary to import lumber on a larger scale. By 1927, the Port was also importing thousands of tons of bananas from Latin America and South America. In terms of exportation, crude oil dominated the list of products passing through the Port in the postwar years. (For more information on oil trade at the Port, please go to the Berths 150151 and Berths 171173 links). Other export items included cotton and citrus fruits.


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