Los Angeles Harbor Light (Angels Gate Light), San Pedro Breakwater, Los Angeles Harbor, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES HARBOR LIGHT
Location: SAN PEDRO BREAKWATER - ANGELS GATE
Station Established: 1913
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1913
Automated? YES 1971
Foundation Materials: ROCK BREAKWATER W/CONCRETE SLABS
Construction Materials: STEEL/CONCRETE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: BLACK STRIPES (VERTICAL)
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL 1913
Though battered by seasonal storms and an occasional passing ship, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Los Angeles Harbor Light has faithfully guarded the port’s busy gateway since 1913. As early as 1907, plans were being made to include a lighthouse in the Los Angeles Breakwater project. The light was to occupy a 40-foot-square concrete block at the end of the west breakwater. A temporary light was established on the block with the completion of the breakwater in 1910. The present lighthouse was completed in 1913 at a cost of just under $36,000. Originally designed to be a dormered, square wooden building with the lens sprouting from the roof similar to Southampton Shoals and Oakland Harbor Lights on San Francisco Bay, the Los Angeles Light ended up looking more like a Roman fantasy. It is the only lighthouse ever built to this design. The light was firmly anchored to the concrete block and built of steel reinforced concrete.
Heavy construction proved to be a godsend when a furious five-day storm assaulted the light a few years after opening. The steel and concrete stood fast as angry seas broke against the walls. A wooden structure would probably have been carried away and the keepers killed. However, the light did not escape unscathed. When the storm ended, keepers complained of difficulty walking one direction in the building. A plumb line dropped from the tower revealed that the concrete block had settled during the storm, giving the lighthouse a pronounced shoreward list. The lean could not be corrected and did no harm except to annoy the keepers. Other scars were put on the lighthouse one dark night when a keeper was thrown to the floor by a tremendous blow to the tower. Running to the window, the amazed keeper saw the silhouette of a huge battleship which had blundered into the breakwater. The ship continued on its way with only scratches and the incident was marked "confidential" and buried deep in Navy files for many years.
The Navy again came into the history of Los Angeles Harbor Light during World War II. New construction added a degaussing station, a radio direction finding calibration unit and a barracks for the Navy personnel who worked this equipment. More changes were made in 1959. The old deep-throated two-tone fog horn, affectionately known to locals as "Moaning Maggie", was replaced by a higher-pitched single-tone horn. The new horn was called "Blatting Betty" and was disliked by local mariners for years. The saddest change for the Los Angeles Harbor Light came on February 1, 1973, when the station was automated and the keepers departed. Today, the 217,000 candle-power light is monitored and maintained by personnel from Coast Guard Base Terminal Island.