Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Angels gate

Angels Gate

Location: SAN PEDRO BREAKWATER - ANGELS GATE, Los Angeles Harbor . Located at the end of the breakwater

Directions: San Pedro is in southern Los Angeles. To get to the area, take Interstate 110 South to the end, the lanes will make a left turn, follow the turn left into Gaffey St. Turn left on 21st Street about 1.5 miles from the end of 110.Turn right on Pacific Ave. for 1 mile.Turn left on Stephen M White Dr. and stay left into Cabrillo Beach Park, where you walk to the end of the Fishing Pier where you can see the lighthouse. The lighthouse is not directly accessible. The breakwater is fenced off and access by foot is prohibited, due to dangerous waves and currents. The lighthouse is visible at a distance from the waterfront area at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, and also from Point Fermin. The light is best viewed by boat.

Coordinates: 33°42′30″N 118°15′05″W
Year first lit: 1913
Active: Yes
Deactivated: No
Automated: 1971
Keepers dwelling: 1942 2 Story keepers quarters, 1938 Concrete Oil house
Foundation: Rock breakwater with Concrete Slabs
Construction: Steel and Concrete, Painted Black & white panels
Tower shape: Cylindrical with a 10 sided Octagonal concrete base
Tower Height: 69 ft (21 m), 73 ft (22.2 m) above sea level
Focal plane: 73 ft
Original lens: 4th order Fresnel lens, AT LOS ANGELES MARITIME MUSEUM
Range: 18 nm
Current lens: DCB-24, SOLAR POWERED
Fog Signal: , AIR OSCILLATER HORN: 2 blasts ev 30s (2s bl-2s si-2s bl-24s si). Operates continuously
Characteristic: green flash every 15 s. Emergency light of reduced intensity when main light is extinguished
Admiralty: G3799
USCG number: 6-0135
Site manager: U.S. COAST GUARD


It was a short journey from Point Fermin Lighthouse to the area where you can see Los Angeles Harbor light. It can be seen from the tower of Point Fermin and I spoke to the docent about visiting it. It’s off limits to the general public, but I suppose one can take risks and make their way to the lighthouse on the breakwater. My first look was from the heights behind a housing estate. I had abandoned my dear wife and went off seeking a vantage point to take photographs. Climbing along the edge of a cliff, and scrambling over a fence or two, I found my spot. It gave me a good view of the harbor and the activity of boats; Kayakers and Para sailing. As I made myself comfortable, I spied upon the cliffs young lovers oblivious to my prowling about.

After a period of time I made my way back to Jean and we continued down to the harbor where the lighthouse was located. We did not spend too long here as we wanted to get to the hotel. The area is a public park with a beach. Located near the lighthouse is a life guard station, so I decided not to venture out to the breakwater, maybe another visit. With my long lens I was able to get a few shots. This was to be my last lighthouse of my vacation. I promised myself a return journey, maybe early morning, the next time. Back to my wife and give her my undisturbed attention. She certainly has been a comforting and patient companion on this trip.

A year later I was to return with my brother Eddie. It was not much different than before; I made my way out to the wharf and observed that it was filled with people fishing. It was evident that this was a port entrance; industrial cranes hugged the coastline on the opposite side of the harbor. A large cargo liner sailed by the lighthouse and the harbor itself was filled with sail boats and surfers, just outside the breakwater windsurfers where racing each other. Mother nature also had her minions pay a visit, pelicans entertained on the fishing pier and provided some precision aerobatics for the entertainment of onlookers.  The beaches were not over crowded. It had a medley of young people and families, there was not a shortage of lookout towers insuring the safety of those who came and enjoyed the sun and beach. Eddie and I spent about an hour in the area before we headed off to Santa Barbara to pick up his daughter from college. That was another adventure


1874, Southern Pacific Railroad completes a line to the San Pedro Area and establishes a port in the area.

1875:  A rival Railroad was built from Los Angeles to Santa Monica,wharf and new port was established thus taking away port business from San Pedro.

1876 Southern Pacific extended its line to Los Angeles , securing its port, and in the end buying out its rival.

1891-1893, 3 commissions investigate the location for a deep water port, San Pedro Bay was picked.

1899 San Pedro Breakwater was started, 9,2550 ft containing nearly 3 million tons of rock from Santa Catalina Island

1907, Plans made to build a 40ft square concrete structure at the west end of the breakwater project. Originally the design was to be a dormered, square wooden building with the lens emergent from the roof comparable to Southampton Shoals.

1910, Temporary Light established with the completion of the breakwater.

1913 Mar 1, 1st Lit at a cost of $36000, the lighthouse was completed; it was the “greeter” light as it guides the steady stream of ships into San Pedro. The construction consisted of 12 steel columns; the top 3 stories are cylindrical and sit upon the 10 sided octagonal bottom sheathed with steel plates, which in turn sits upon a 40 ft square concrete platform. This has a Romanesque appearance, and it was unique in its design. The bottom story housed the fog signal (36 inch airway beacon, dual tone fog signals, and a radio beacon inside its frame.), water and fuel tanks. The story above the octagonal was used for storage and the top 2 stories was the quarters for the light-keepers, atop the building was helical-bar lantern room which housed a 4th order Fresnel lens. The light source was an oil incandescent lamp Which flashed white every 15 seconds. The fog horn had 2 compressed air sirens powered by gas engines.It was called the Robot Light because the rectangular base on six columnar legs,only one of its kind, built at the end of a 2 mile stretch of San Pedro breakwater. 3 keepers tend the station, their families lived in town because the quarters where too small.Quarters being small often led to arguments or fights. Assistant keeper Hughes was suspended for assaulting head keeper Olsen.  Olsen put in his report "All keepers at this station are instructed that in the future no distilled or malt liquors are to be brought to this station"

1932, Los Angeles Times published a story, “The lighthouse also survived a brush with a battleship years ago. The battleship struck the rocks directly below. Jim Gibbs (Lighthouses of the Pacific, p. 43) says it was this incident that probably inspired these lines by Don Newman entitled Check your Bearings :

First voice: Our radar has you on a collision course with us. You should alter course 10 degrees south.

Second voice: We have you on our radar. Suggest you alter course 10 degrees north.

First voice: Admiral Goodman aboard. Strongly suggest you bear 10 degrees south, this is a battleship!

Second voice: This is Seaman Farnsworth. Still suggest you bear 10 degrees north. This is a lighthouse!”

1933,March 10, The lighthouse is jolted by an earthquake; the keeper reported that the lighthouse shook for 20 seconds and that the mercury slopped out of the pool used to float the lens. The lighthouse has been at a slight tilt ever since its early years, when a 5 day severe gale hammered tremendous breaking waves against the lighthouse. the lighthouse leaned toward the shore, but stood steadfastly against the violent storm, it was left with a tilt. Lighthouse workers complained about uneven walking plain, they dropped a plumb line from the lantern to the ground, which confirmed their complaints. The tower continued to be strong and steady, in spite of the tilt. Later on the a green translucent cover was placed over the lens due to the distracting lights of the encroaching suburbia. Its the only green flashing light in a major lighthouse in California.

1939 United States Coast Guard took over management.

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

1959 The 2 tone fog horn “moaning Maggie” is replaced by a single tone horn known as “Blatting Betty” Repairs Ordered to stop tilt of upper levels.

1973 Feb 1, The Station is Automated and the last of the lightkeepers departed.

1980's, storms battered the lighthouse and severed the electric cable to the lighthouse, rather than repair diesal generator was used to power the lights, fog signal and radio beacon.

1987 Sept, Lens is removed from the tower, the lighthouse is 1st to use solar power. A 30 lb plastic light replaces it. The fog signal range is shortened, the light now is only to reach 15nm.

1989 a new lens similar to the original is placed in the tower. The intensity of the light was increased because of complaints from boat owners. The green flashing light is once again a sentinel on the Californian coast

1990 Feb, Lens is donated Los Angeles Maritime Museum

2009 July, The Harbor Board of Commissioners formally approved lighthouse funding.

2010 La times report that 1.8 million set aside for the restoration of the light


United States Coast Guard
San Pedro
National Park Service
Wikipedia Angels Gate Light
La Times


1. Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Sharlene and Ted Nelson, 1993.
2. Lighthouses of the Pacific, Jim Gibbs, 1986.

Keywords: Angels Gate Lighthouse, Lighthouse, lighthouse pictures, Los Angeles, California, directions, location, photographs, Journal, history, LighthousesOfCalifornia, Sean O’Cairde

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