Better-known Long Beach has the flash
Long Beach, Calif., is known for its convention center, sleek hotels and extensive aquarium. (iStock)Long Beach and San Pedro are adjacent areas in Southern California often defined by cargo vessels, leisure cruises and maritime attractions. Long Beach, with its own airport and convention center, has always been the flashier of the two. Its harborfront boasts sleek hotels, national restaurant chains and a modern aquarium. Lively pocket neighborhoods offer vintage clothing stores, authentic Cambodian eateries, LGBTQ-friendly bars and the only legal off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County. The Queen Mary, the 1930s-era British ocean liner turned floating hotel, cuts a formidable figure across the bay.
Alas, the Queen Mary has been closed since 2020 as the city addresses concerns that it has fallen into critical disrepair. It began a $5 million refurbishment in February to address immediate issues, but studies indicate that the vessel may require nearly $300 million in renovations and upgrades to keep it afloat, leaving Long Beach without one of its major attractions.
Just over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, neighboring San Pedro is quietly emerging as a destination in its own right. The former commercial fishing village is home to one of the West Coast’s largest cruise hubs and anchors the southern end of one of the best coastal drives in California, the 14-mile Palos Verdes Scenic Drive. Its modest cottages and close-up views of the industrial Port of Los Angeles might seem jarring at first next to the mansions and cliffside views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, but San Pedro is filled with eclectic eateries and affordable, under-the-radar destinations that are worth a closer look.
Although hip spots such as Crafted, an indoor artisan marketplace and brewery, have joined stalwart attractions such as the Point Fermin Lighthouse, locals will tell you that San Pedro’s independent, blue-collar spirit isn’t going anywhere. This is where the poet and novelist Charles Bukowski lived and wrote, where Upton Sinclair rallied longshoremen to strike for their rights in 1923, and where the 1980s punk rock group the Minutemen honed their distinctive sound.
To get a sense of the area’s seafaring history, stop by the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, housed in the 1940s-era ferry terminal that San Pedro workers once passed through to get to jobs at the tuna canneries and shipyards of Terminal Island. Nearby is the partially finished waterfront promenade, which, once complete, promises to be a pedestrian-friendly gathering place with open views of the main channel of the Los Angeles harbor. Along it are the USS Iowa, a retired World War II battleship that is open for tours, and the casual, chaotic covered patio of the San Pedro Fish Market, where you can feast on a tray of grilled shrimpand watch ships drift in and out of Los Angeles Harbor. Whale-watching cruises launch nearby.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is much smaller than Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, but its sea-life exhibits and aquatic nursery are thoughtful, and the price is right (suggested donation $7). The Marine Mammal Care Center is another kid-friendly destination; on weekends, visitors can view injured seals and sea lions and learn about their rehabilitation.
For more history, climb to higher ground to reach Fort MacArthur, a U.S. Army fortress that guarded the Los Angeles port area from 1914 through the early 1970s. Highlights include a large collection of operable military vehicles and wartime radio equipment. In nearby Angels Gate Park, the 17-ton Korean Friendship Bell, a gift from South Korea for the U.S. bicentennial, sits beneath a pavilion amid a wide lawn with arguably the best picnicking and kite-flying opportunities in L.A. The sweeping view, which takes in the busy port, Catalina Island and the rugged coastline, is uniquely San Pedro.
Location: San Pedro is located between the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Long Beach, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Randall is a writer based in Los Angeles. Her website is authorlaurarandall.com.
New pictures of San Pedro venue that's expected to be done by the end of 2024 were released, showing a unique waterfront amphitheater complete with restaurants and a brewery.
The 6,200 seat amphitheater is part of a much bigger project, totaling $250 million.
The first phase of the project – with restaurants and a brewery - will start in the next two months, Eric Johnson with Jerico Development, said.
"There’ll be people on the water, on the park above, people on the patios of the restaurants, people in the restaurants," he said, referencing the renderings showing the West Harbor of the San Pedro waterfront.
"It’s going to be an opportunity for San Pedro to be put on the map," resident Lee Williams said.
WEST HARBOR MODIFICATION PROJECT INITIAL STUDY"People are very interested in where they live, work, and play. You see where they work here, you see where they live, it’s a great place to live, but now we’re having an opportunity to play more."
But a few neighbors have concerns.
"Residents of this community have a right to enjoy peace and quiet," Noel Gould said. He is worried about traffic and noise.
"We hear the trains at night when they connect. We hear the containers at night when they drop, and that’s not even loud compared to a rock concert. People get excited about something like this, without taking into effect all of the ramifications for a project of this nature."
But Johnson said they are listening to the community.
WEST HARBOR MODIFICATION PROJECT INITIAL STUDY"We want to hear the community, we are an extension of the community," he said.
He believes this development will mean big business and big opportunity for all.
"Outdoor music venues are fairly unique by themselves but to have one on the waterfront is really unique," Johnson said.
"I haven’t built anything like this and I know when I come back and I see people having fun it will be my favorite project ever."
The aim is to have the first phase completed next year.
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Demolition began Wednesday on the long-vacant San Pedro Courthouse to make way for a new, mixed-use housing development.
(credit: CBS)Construction workers, city officials, and other onlookers in hard hats were on hand as a construction crane was set loose on the upper floors of the building, as water was sprayed to help keep the dust down from the half-century-old courthouse at 505 S. Centre St. in San Pedro.
The building will be replaced by an eight-story development that will include 300 apartments with 60 affordable units, and about 2,0000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor that will include a food hall, communal seating, and space for entertainment and community activities.
"This is a project that we have been looking forward to for a long time," Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. "This project is in the heart of our downtown, so it was important that we got this right. We are building apartments that people can afford, bringing more people to downtown, and building a space everyone can enjoy."
Demolition of the courthouse is expected to take up to 50 days, and construction on the development is set to begin in the fall.
Despite the trying times of a pandemic, another sign of San Pedro's evolution into the best up and coming neighborhood has arrived. Acme 5 Lifestyle opened on 624 Pacific Ave in October, 2020. The interior store highlights beautiful finds, while the basement level includes an exclusive art gallery section.
Acme 5 Lifestyle was created by production designer Anton Goss, in 2017, as a Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come” endeavor. Having designed television sets for Oprah Winfrey or music shows like “The Voice”, he used this opportunity to move out of the studio and into the tactile world of living environmental design. Acme 5 has grown to include a full set of lifestyle related products, ranging from custom leather couches, specimen aloe trees and beautifully finished handmade teak furniture, to fire pits carved from boulders... The brand is ever evolving and meandering through the stream of creativity and opportunity.
Stores are located in Santa Monica, Yucca Valley and Sane Pedro.
Check them out today.
The Holland Partners project on 6th street is complete and leasing. These gorgeous apartments are providing much needed residential housing and adding consumer demand to the downtown area.