Redondo Beach: Los Angeles’s First Port

Redondo Beach’s voters approved Measure C during the March 7 election, limiting how the city’s recreational waterfront could be developed. But did you know the King Harbor area was once a commercial port?

In fact Redondo Beach’s waterfront was Los Angeles’s first-ever commercial port. Two men purchased a 433-acre stretch of coastal land in 1888 for $12,000 and set out to develop a port. A wharf was built by 1890, bringing with it waterfront cottages and local businesses. The harbor added two more wharves by 1903.

Lumber became the port’s major import for the next 30-some years. A local newspaper article stated the Redondo Beach port serviced 60 percent of shipping business in the Los Angeles area.

The port’s major weakness, though, was its lack of breakwater.

“With no breakwater, the port was open to the sea and when the weather turned bad, boats, piers, shops, and homes all suffered,” an article published by the Redondo Beach Historical Society stated. “Redondo is a west-facing beach, so when the winds pick up out of the northwest, Redondo’s shoreline is pummeled. The massive ships are tossed around like ragdolls and many end up stranded on the beach. Some escape with minor damage and are reacquainted with the sea when the tides roll in, but others perish on the sandy shores.”

By the late 1920s, however, port traffic dwindled (eventually moving to San Pedro), and Redondo Beach began transforming into a destination for recreational activities.

Sources: Redondo Beach Historical Society,, City of Redondo Beach

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