A rare up close & personal tour of LA harbor’s 101-year-old beacon.

From the dock, the lighthouse looks rather small...

From the dock, the lighthouse looks rather small…

...but as you make the 2-mile journey out to the end of the breakwater...

…but as you make the 2-mile journey out to the end of the breakwater…

...you begin to appreciate her size, all 73-feet of her.

…you begin to appreciate her size, all 73-feet of her.

We disembark...

We disembarked…

...and watch our boat anchor off the breakwater where it's less likely to get slammed against the rocks.

…and watched our boat anchor off the breakwater where it’s less likely to get slammed against the rocks.

"Coffee Over Girls" - Sounds good to me.

“Coffee Over Girls” — sounds good to me.

Rusty Boner

Rusty

Confusion about the history of the lighthouse extends to its name. The original name as designated by the Lighthouse Service was “San Pedro Breakwater Light Station”. After some bureaucratic discussion, the name was changed to “Los Angeles Harbor Light” in 1914. The familiar name “Angels Gate” is a colloquial nod to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels” whose harbor entrance is known as the “Angels Gate”. Today, though the official name remains “Los Angeles Harbor Light”, the tower is better known to local residents and lighthouse aficionados as “Angels Gate Light”.

Confusion about the history of the lighthouse extends to its name. The original name as designated by the Lighthouse Service was “San Pedro Breakwater Light Station”. After some bureaucratic discussion, the name was changed to “Los Angeles Harbor Light” in 1914. The familiar name “Angels Gate” is a colloquial nod to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels” whose harbor entrance is known as the “Angels Gate”. Today, though the official name remains “Los Angeles Harbor Light”, the tower is better known to local residents and lighthouse aficionados as “Angels Gate Light”.

Looks like they missed a spot during the renovation.

Looks like they missed a spot during the renovation.

The first two floors are steel plated to withstand the heavy seas.

The first two floors are steel plated to withstand the heavy seas.

Come on in.

Come on in.

Technology caught up with the lighthouse in 1972, when it became fully automated, no longer requiring a tender on the premises. In 1987 it was the first lighthouse in California to transition to solar power. Amid media fanfare, solar panels were installed along the lantern deck railing, and the original Fresnel lens was dismantled and stored in a Coast Guard warehouse. (The lens is currently dis- played at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.) Charlie Ashmore, who helped install the new, 30-pound plastic lens: “It will mean less work, and will be cheaper for the government”.

Technology caught up with the lighthouse in 1972, when it became fully automated, no longer requiring a tender on the premises. In 1987 it was the first lighthouse in California to transition to solar power. Amid media fanfare, solar panels were installed along the lantern deck railing, and the original Fresnel lens was dismantled and stored in a Coast Guard warehouse (the lens is currently displayed at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum).

Leaving the second floor steel structure and entering the upper levels which were built using cement plaster on metal lath.

Leaving the second floor steel structure and entering the upper levels, which were built using cement plaster on metal lath.

Window Treatment

Window Treatment

The stubby lighthouse with tons of windows throughout, felt light and airy inside.

The stubby lighthouse with tons of windows throughout, felt light and airy inside. Since the tower did not include accommodations for families, Angels Gate was known as a “bachelor station”. Keepers would spend weeks at time separated from their families who lived ashore.

In 1989, after numerous complaints from mariners that the new light was too dim, the Coast Guard installed a larger lens with a 1,000-watt bulb.

In 1989, after numerous complaints from mariners that the new light was too dim, the Coast Guard installed a larger lens with a 1,000-watt bulb.

Mariners entering Angel's Gate are guided by the lighthouse's rotating green light.

Mariners entering Angel’s Gate are guided by the lighthouse’s rotating green light. Whenever a deep sea vessel arrives on her maiden voyage in Los Angeles Harbor, the master is presented with a plaque etched with the likeness of the light, an official greeting from the City of Los Angeles, and the lighthouse that watches over the entrance to her harbor.

Find your Light.

Find your Light.

Lattice View

Lattice View

The breakwater is 9,250 feet long and contains nearly three million tons of rock, brought over from Santa Catalina Island.

The breakwater is 9,250 feet long and contains nearly three million tons of rock, brought over from Santa Catalina Island.

4th floor

4th floor

Port Frames

Port Frames

The original tower was all white, which mariners had trouble seeing in the fog, so vertical black stripes were added for increased visibility.

The original tower was all white, which mariners had trouble seeing in the fog, so vertical black stripes were added for increased visibility.

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The last storm ripped off the front gates.

The last storm ripped off the front gates.

Breaker Boat

Breaker Boat

Designed differently than any other lighthouse, Angel's Gate is situated on a forty-foot concrete square. Built to withstand rough seas, the framework is structural steel, with steel plates to the second floor.

Designed differently than any other lighthouse, Angel’s Gate is situated on a forty-foot concrete square. Built to withstand rough seas, the framework is structural steel, with steel plates to the second floor. The last storm also broke apart some of the breakwater that sits directly in front of the lighthouse. By 2011, the years of exposure had led to rusted through walls, broken windows, cracked masonry, and leaks during storms. In cooperation with the Coast Guard, the Cabrillo Beach Boosters Club completed a $1.8 million overhaul of the exterior, funded by the Port of Los Angeles. The overhaul was completed in May of 2012. A $1.2 million overhaul of the interior is planned in the near future. The twelve columns, now covered with black pilasters, give the lighthouse a Romanesque feel. No other lighthouse was ever built to this design.

...and this makes everyone (including the breaker sh[Arts]) very sad.

Even the breaker sh[Arts]) were sad to see us go. Was it worth driving from Mammoth to San Pedro @ 4am, on only 2 hours of sleep and then going straight to work after the tour? Hell yeah! When you’re given the rare opportunity to visit the historic 101 year old Angel’s Gate Lighthouse, which has stood guard at the entrance to LA’s port since 1913, you better believe its worth it.

Berth/Traxx

Berth/Traxx

Side Gargoyles

Side Gargoyles

Sweet Concrete

Sweet Concrete