Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Port of Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles is located on San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles, approximately 20 miles (30 km) south of downtown. Also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT LA, the port complex occupies 7,500 acres (30 km²) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It adjoins the separate port of Long Beach.
The south-facing San Pedro Bay was originally a shallow mudflat, too soft to support a wharf. Visiting ships had two choices: stay far out at anchor and have their goods and passengers ferried to shore; or beach themselves. That sticky process is described in Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who was a crewmember on an 1834 voyage that visited San Pedro Bay. Phineas Banning greatly improved shipping when he dredged the channel to Wilmington in 1871 to a depth of 10 feet. The port handled 50,000 tons of shipping that year. Banning owned a stagecoach line with routes connecting San Pedro to Salt Lake City, Utah and to Yuma, Arizona, and in 1868 he built a railroad to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles, the first in the area. After Banning's death in 1885 his sons pursued their interests in promoting the port, which handled 500,000 of shipping in that year. The Southern Pacific Railroad and Collis P. Huntington wanted to create Port Los Angeles at Santa Monica, and built the Long Wharf there in 1893. However the Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis and U.S. Senator Stephen White pushed for federal support of the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro Bay. The matter was settled when San Pedro was endorsed in 1897 by a commission headed by Rear Admiral John C. Walker (who later went to become the chair of the Isthmian Canal Commission in 1904). With U.S government support breakwater construction began in 1899 and the area was annexed to Los Angeles in 1909. The Harbor Commission was founded in 1907.
The Port is an independent, self-supporting department of the government of the City of Los Angeles. The Port is under the control of a five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council, and is administered by an executive director.
The container volume was 5.6 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in fiscal year 2002 and 5.0 million TEUs in fiscal year 2001. The Port is the busiest port in the United States by container volume.
That shipping volume comes with a cost: air pollution. Container ships burning low quality bunker fuel idle dockside because most have no capability to connect to shore-generated electricity. Diesel-powered semi-trailer trucks and locomotives idle while waiting to be loaded and unloaded. The local air quality regulatory agency did a study that found that air pollution from the port is responsible for 2,000 cases of cancer per million people (25 per million is the upper limit sought by regulators). The 47 tons of nitrogen oxides generated daily by port marine vessels nearly equals the amount emitted by the 350 largest factories and refineries in the region, and that number is expected to increase 70% by 2022.
From 2002 to the present, the Port has had a large backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded at any given time. Many analysts believe that the Port's traffic may have exceeded its physical capacity as well as the capacity of local freeway and railroad systems. The chronic congestion at the Port is beginning to cause ripple effects throughout the American economy and is disrupting just-in-time inventory practices at many companies.
The Port of Los Angeles is the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast of the United States. The newly rennovated World Cruise Center is claimed to be "the nation's most secure cruise passenger complex".
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