Berth 147 Berths 150-151 Berth 171-173 Berth 240
Port of Los Angeles Virtual History Tour
Historic Facilities Port History
Home Site Map
Search Archive Contacts
The Bethlehem Shipyard - the Trend
Legend
People
Product
Trend
Description

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
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 Shipbuilding Company.

 

Caption to come
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
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 day.

 

 

 

Next