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The Union Oil Co. - the Trend


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The growth rates in the oil industry at this time were so explosive that concerns were expressed about the crowding out of other waterfront-dependant industries. Oil fires became a hazard to the extent that proposals were drafted to build a single, concentrated oil terminal area in the Outer Harbor. By 1930, the frenzied pace of oil exploration and petroleum products production in the region resulted in highly erratic pricing and availability of supplies. Prorata marketing agreements initiated between the producers introduced some stability into the markets, and a pattern of steady growth followed.

Modern aerial view of Berths 171-173 with ship unloading
Modern aerial view of Berths 171-173 with ship unloading

Because of the highly speculative nature of the oil industry, the City and County of Los Angeles in the 1930s attempted, with some success, to broaden their industrial base. However, until the beginning of World War II, petroleum accounted for 75% of the yearly tonnage of cargo moved through the Port of Los Angeles.

Truck at truck rack
Truck at truck rack

The oil handling facilities at the Port played a huge role in expanding the commercial and economic success of Los Angeles which coincided with Los Angeles' emergence as an "international" city between the 1920s and the 1940s.