In 1929, erosion, slippery clay soil, and a series of landslides sent the southern tip of a San Pedro coastal community sliding into the ocean. At its peak, the land movement was measured at an astounding 11 inches a day. The area was evacuated and closed to all visitors. Due to quick action, most of the homes overlooking the Pacific were moved before the ocean consumed them, with the exception of two bungalows atop the 90-foot bluff that did end up toppling into the water. The eastern section of Point Fermin Park was also lost and the entire area continued to slide seaward until the mid 1930s.
Today, the area is known as Sunken City. The houses are long gone, but six acres of buckled streets and sidewalks, broken foundations of houses, and old water pipes remain. Although the area is fenced off with “No Trespassing” signs posted, it still remains a popular hiking spot for those adventurous enough to explore the area. The rich history and scenic views from Sunken City attract many visitors. Despite the fencing and signs, unauthorized visitors can easily access the area along the coast line, evidenced by the abundance of graffiti left behind by people who’ve frequented the area over the years.
Recently Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino wrote to Michael Shull, director of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, requesting the area be opened for visitors, stating “It is one of the only areas along our coastline that remains closed to the public.” However, Buscaino’s request has not yet met with success due to the number of safety incidents that have already occurred in the forbidden zone. Stability also still remains a concern. The 2011 White Point landslide occurred within just a mile or so of Sunken City, when a 600-foot section of Paseo Del Mar dropped off the cliff. So for the time being, Sunken City remains a forbidden and dangerous place to visit.
500 W Paseo Del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731
- It is illegal and considered trespassing to enter Sunken City. Please note that you are there at your own risk and may be ticketed and fined by police for trespassing.
- This place is slippery and steep. Be prepared for some climbing. Wear either hiking shoes or running shoes as long as they hold onto surface well.
- Bring water.
- Bring a camera. There are gorgeous views and some interesting graffiti. You may even be able to spot passing whales and dolphins in the Pacific.
Sunken City, 2014 – A crime dramedy set in San Pedro. Read more on IMDb.
Fear the Walking Dead, 2015 – The first season of AMC’s Walking Dead spinoff, set in Los Angeles, ends on the Pacific coast with the final climatic scene taking place at Sunken City.