What shipbuilding trends occurred at the Port during the 20s, 30s, and
40s, and how did they affect the use of this facility?
Assembling parts in the machine shop
Shipbuilding Trends at the Port of Los Angeles
Before World War I, only a handful of shipbuilding companies existed at Los
Angeles Harbor. In 1917, the Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company and Southwestern
Shipbuilding each organized and built plants at the Port. Other shipbuilding companies
soon followed, including the Ralph J. Chandler Shipbuilding Company and Fulton
Detail work in WWII-era ship building
Combined, these companies employed more than 20,000 people to build steel and
wooden vessels. The Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company and Southwestern
Shipbuilding received nearly $125,000 combined in steel shipbuilding contracts
from the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Both weather and labor conditions made the
Harbor a desirable shipbuilding location. The Port particularly welcomed this
new economic activity coming in the years following the completion of modern port
facilities and during a period of otherwise curtailed world trade.
Historic view of wharfside cranes
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.
The Port of Long Beach, established two years before the onset of the war, offered
the only southern California competition to the Port of Los Angeles in terms of
shipping or shipbuilding. The competition between the ports continues to the present