A Place for People in Los Angeles

San Pedro’s Ports O’Call is a place for people all ages. It is unique. It may not last long.


A few months ago the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously approved an “Exclusive Negotiating Agreement” with a group of developers for the redevelopment of a 30-acre waterfront which includes Ports O’Call. Hopefully its replacement will be able to combine a not-nostalgic / not “pseudo-something” sustainable design, and at the same time create an adequate “space for people,” without triggering gentrification.Not easy, but possible.


“As is,” Ports O’Call is not architecture of any design value. Built in 1963 as a pseudo New England village, it is narrowly sandwiched between the waterfront and an ocean of asphalt. Yet, although it is linked to Los Angeles’ core by a narrow umbilical cord, it attracts a significant segment of the city’s Latino population. Families and friends come in large groups, ranging in age from a few months to the late 80’s. Round tables for eight or long ones for many people invite socialization.  

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 8.34.02 AM

The place touches all senses: sound, smell, taste…The views are dynamic. With a background defined by the suspended Vincent Thomas Bridge, thousands of piled containers and protruding cranes, ships pass by, seagulls overfly and the water waves  splash against the docks

 It is a place to enjoy and learn from. Architects, designers, planners and decision-makers in politics and investment financing can learn a few things from Ports O’Call on how a right combination of setting and commerce can touch people’s emotional needs. Good design could help. 


2 Comments on “A Place for People in Los Angeles

  1. I love the Ports of Cal and sadly watched it diminish. Now I go to King’s Harbor with a hammer and newspaper if I want to eat a frest lobster. The slow death of San Pedro’s Harbor rea;;y confised me as it is such prime space. I know they ar planning to redevelop it butI hope it will not go in the direction that Long Beach did with it’s downtown watefront of pure commecialism. Thank you Rick for continuing to raise my awareness of the spaces tht I live in or used to live in after living in California for almost 40 years.

  2. Ruth, Rick, our next vacation will be Ports of Call for a beer and that wonderful looking fish combo…. And just think, it’s less than 30 minutes from home. Love it! Diane