Built in 1917 on the outermost point of land on the main channel at the Port of Los Angeles, this six-story warehouse played an important part in the establishment of Los Angeles as a major center of international trade. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the development of the region’s trade and commerce.
The city’s Municipal Wharf No. 1 was nearly complete in 1914 and harbor officials next turned their attention to the construction of a large bonded warehouse. In December 1914, the Harbor Commission unveiled the structural plans prepared by Chief Harbor Engineer S.A. Jubb for the “mammoth new warehouse” to be built on Municipal Dock No. 1. The Los Angeles Times reported at the time on the proposed design as follows:
“The massiveness and character of the structure, of course, preclude the idea of architectural beauty and make any considerable degree of ornamentation undesirable. Both commissions, however, are desirous that the warehouse shall be more than merely a gigantic fireproof box with four walls, a roof and various openings. Considerable study, therefore, has been given to the treatment of cornice and wall panels, to the end that as pleasing and symmetrical an effect may be obtained as is consistent with the purposes and proportions of the building.
The warehouse will be of reinforced concrete construction and six stories in height. It will be 480 feet (150 m) in length and 150 feet (46 m) wide, being the largest structure of its kind ever erected west of Chicago. … The warehouse is to stand at the seaward end of the city’s present great outer harbor dock …”
The original projected cost of the structure was $200,000 for the structural work and another $50,000 for equipment, though the final cost was nearly double – $475,792.53. When plans were finalized in 1915, the Times reported that the enormous warehouse would require more than 27,000 cubic yards of cement and 1,200 tons of reinforcing steel and would be “by far the largest structure of its kind on the Pacific Coast.”
When Municipal Warehouse No. 1 opened in April 1917, nearly 100 members of the city’s Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association toured the warehouse and were told of its potential to assist them in their business. The Times described the operations at the warehouse as follows:
“Freight received by steamers will be sorted in the transit freight shed and taken into the warehouse on electric trucks. Sixteen electric hoists have been provided to convey the freight to the various lofts in the warehouse. There are nearly twelve acres of floor space in the warehouse, which will be leased by the city merchants and manufacturers. Here goods may be readied for shipment and send direct from the warehouse by rail. Tracks run into the warehouse and elevators are provided to take the goods from the lofts to the loading platforms in the basement.”
The warehouse was the Port’s only bonded warehouse for many years and played a significant role in the establishment of the Port of Los Angeles as an international trade hub. The 475,000-square-foot structure was built with an interior arcade with room for 24 freight cars.
During World War II, the warehouse was turned over to the U.S. Navy for use as a supply depot, and then returned to civilian use after the war. In the 1970s, the introduction of cargo containerization eliminated the need for break-bulk warehousing, but Municipal Warehouse No. 1 has continued to be used as a bonded warehouse at the Port. It also serves as a visual landmark for ships entering the Port. In 2000, Municipal Warehouse No. 1 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places based on its contributions to international trade and commerce along the Pacific Coast.
Today, this is a popular location for filming. TV shows such as Scorpion, Colony, and Teen Wolf have been filmed at and around this picturesque site. Check out our South Bay calendar for upcoming filming notices.
Municipal Warehouse No. 1
2500 Signal St., San Pedro, California