Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where the mouth of the Los Angeles River meets the Pacific. All photos by Calvin Abe

Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where the mouth of the Los Angeles River meets the Pacific. All photos by Calvin Abe.

Few Los Angeles area landscapes have been transformed as dramatically within the past century as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Recently, Calvin Abe flew over the ports in a helicopter, capturing these stunning images of the port from an unusual perspective. Calvin’s images bring into sharp relief the massive physical form of progress, and compared with historical images (see here for comparison), the photos illustrate a rapidly evolving historic record.


Massive mountains of containers cover port real estate.

One of the casualties of progress in the port’s history is the Lost Village of Terminal Island.  Located on the southern edge of the port of Los Angeles, this piece of land was once a mudflat and coastal marsh within the Los Angeles River estuary, then later a fishing village for thousands of first and second generation Japanese immigrant families. The land is currently used as a shipping container processing station and a Federal Penitentiary.

Before WWII Terminal Island was an idyllic village of Japanese and Japanese American families that made a living working for the fishing and canning industries in the port area. According to “Furusato: The Lost Village of Terminal Island” the landscape provided a backdrop for the children growing up in the community who were allowed to explore the island and dive for abalone off the nearby beach.


The Evergreen shipping cranes with the Ports O’ Call Village in the background.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many of the men of the village were incarcerated, and all of the Japanese-American families were sent to internment camps. While the residents were away, the village was razed by the United States Navy. Today, all that is left  is a small memorial dedicated to the lost community, a few of the remaining building sites with National Trust for Historic Preservation designations, and the fading memories of a generation that once called Terminal Island “home”.


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  1. Gary J. Lai #
    September 14, 2016

    As a supporter of the Japanese American community in Southern California, I am always struck by how different the state would have been if not for the mass internment during WWII. Not only was internment one of the most striking violations of the United States Constitution against its own citizens but it was also it one of the biggest land-grabs in American History that completely changed the cultural and political course and racial makeup of the California coast. Terminal Island is just another example.


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