A Victory for Terminal Island

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Terminal Island played a vital role during World War I and World War II. (Los Angeles Harbor Department photo)

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners on Aug. 8 unanimously approved a Port Master Plan update that provides a path for the preservation of Terminal Island’s vacant historic buildings, according to Brian Turner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust and the L.A. Conservancy both voiced their support for the document after more than a year of negotiations with port staff. 

Its listing as one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” in 2012 focused a national spotlight on the preservation needs at Terminal Island. The exposure gave port staff a broader audience to track preservation efforts and the momentum to make substantial improvements that recognize the value of the site’s heritage. Among them:

• Adding “historic preservation” as one of the plan’s five goals;

• Being the first working port in the nation to adopt a comprehensive preservation policy;

• Recognizing the historic value of the two remaining buildings in the former Japanese American commercial village;

• Adding flexibility in uses for historic shipbuilding and cannery buildings.

“The final plan update sets an example for working ports throughout the nation on how a commitment to adaptively reuse historic buildings can be an effective strategy for achieving economic success,” said Turner. “We are grateful for the Port of L.A.’s leadership in utilizing the ‘11 Most’ and [National] Treasures brand to create a win-win for the public interest.”

For more information, visit www.savingplaces.org/treasures/terminal-island.

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