Week 231: San Pedro—Point Fermin

February 07, 2021

 Weekend SherpaPark It Here, Point Fermin Park to Angels Gate Park, 2.5 miles. 

Glorious ocean views, magnificent trees, and challenging trails were only part of the fascination Barbara and I found on Weekend Sherpa's November 2020 park-to-park hike in a fairly small corner of San Pedro. Point Fermin was named by a British explorer to honor a priest at the Carmel Mission who was nice to him. The hike starts at the gate to the Sunken City ruins at the southern end of Paseo del Mar off S. Gaffey St. Nothing to see here—a 1920s landslide literally sunk the Sunken City into the ocean and the fenced-in ruins are barely visible. But our starting point gave us a chance to wander among the 20 glorious, regal, Moreton Bay figs planted here in the 1930s, Next, the Point Fermin Lighthouse honored on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1874, the lighthouse was the first navigational light to guide ships into the San Pedro Bay harbor. Continuing north along the bluffs, we passed photographers with lenses pointed down and out, hoping to catch a shot of peregrine falcons dive-bombing the marine life refuge below. At the north end of Point Fermin Park we crossed Paseo del Mar to the entrance to Angels Gate Park, home of the Fort MacArthur Museum, Battery Osgood-Farley, and the Korean Friendship Bell. That's when the history behind the hike got really interesting. A steep trail took us up to a small rickety staircase to a pair of battery ruins. Each looked like leftovers from a construction site and faced a circle of dirt—yet, both are on the National Register of Historical Places. Why? The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 immediately made the Port of Los Angeles a favored shipping location in CA...days after the start of WWI in Europe. So, in 1914, this slope on San Pedro Hill became part of the US Army's Fort MacArthur, a permanent harbor defense installation that guarded the LA Harbor from 1914–1974. From 1919 to the attack on Pearl Harbor to the end of WWII, the concrete rubble and dirt circles that Barbara and I stared at today were fortified emplacements for heavy guns. And I mean heavy. Each mounted on one of the dirt circles, the two 48-foot guns weighed 10,000 lbs. and could fire a 1,560 lb. projectile 14 miles out into the ocean! Above the batteries at the top of the hill, a beautiful Los Angeles Historical-Cultural monument overlooks the ocean. The Korean Friendship Bell, a picture of grace and strength modeled after the bronze bell of King Songduk (c.771AD), was presented to the US by South Korea to commemorate our bicentennial and represent the friendship between the two nations. Our heads filled with history, Barbara and I trekked back down the hill and across the street to our last park of the day: Wilders Addition Park, 6.9 acres donated in 1926 to the city of Los Angeles by the Wilder family in lieu of back taxes. A sweet little park, dirt trail to a bluff path below; palm-tree-lined manicured park on street level. We hiked both, then followed Paseo del Mar south back to the car. Even if you don't care about history, the views out to the ocean and down the sides of the bluff are spectacular. If you do like history, the defensive significance of the area is fascinating. Glad we went. 



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