On Wednesday June 6, 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Port of Los Angeles’ Terminal Island made its way onto the list.
Terminal Island is an island of the Pacific Ocean located in Los Angeles County, between Los Angeles Harbor and Long Beach Harbor. Terminal Island was once inhabited by first and second-generation Japanese prior to WWII. It is remembered as a distinct Japanese fishing village with its own culture and lifestyle, including a unique dialect that blended both Japanese and English.
Following President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, the first major Los Angeles relocation of Japanese and Japanese Americans occurred at Terminal Island. About 3,000 residents lived in the Japanese fishing community on Terminal Island, also called East San Pedro or Fish Harbor. After Pearl Harbor, many male Japanese residents were detained by the FBI and all Japanese-owned fishing boats impounded. The U.S. Navy began condemnation proceedings to remove all residents – mostly Japanese – from areas near naval bases on Terminal Island. They were een as a national threat; its residents were forcibly removed and imprisoned at the internment camp Manzanar.
In recent years, the Port of Los Angeles has neglected historic buildings at Terminal Island – a pattern that plagues industrial sites around the country. A plan introduced in 2011 calls for the demolition of more structures and fails to endorse the idea of adaptive reuse. Local preservationists fear this plan could be the model for an even larger plan that would permit more destruction. They are hoping to protect historic structures at one of the nation’s busiest ports, and promote the revitalization of vacant buildings slated for demolition.