Stop by the Angel City Press booth 119 this weekend at USC to celebrate the long-awaited debut of Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Purchase your copy and meet authors Geraldine Knatz and Naomi Hirahara on Saturday from 12-2. We at ACP are very proud of this extraordinary history. More below...

Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor

by Naomi Hirahara and Geraldine Knatz

Few Los Angelenos have visited Terminal Island, a sheltered spot in the Pacific Ocean that once served as a resort for wealthy Southern California landowners and as a refuge for its artists and writers and scientists, all in need of a respite from the heat of the city. There renowned Angeleno Charles Lummis was a squatter in his beloved oceanside shack, the Jib-O-Jib. Bookbinder Idah Strobridge brought together the Bohemians who soon would be the Arroyo Culture, as they sought inspiration and camaraderie. There, too, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography was born under another name.

Not long after the rich and creative were driven away by a greedy throng of industrialists and railroad magnates and the politics they wrought, Terminal Island became home to another thriving community, this time a small world of Japanese families, people whose link was their lineage and their amazing ability to capture the most and biggest fish the Pacific had to offer. They were the fishermen of Terminal Island. And their wives. And their children. And their spirit. They were at the heart of one of Southern California’s most important businesses: the fisheries.

And then came a war. A world war that devastated the hopes, dreams, homes, and families of the Japanese who lived on Terminal Island. And it became, in the truest, deepest sense, a ghost town.

Terminal lsland: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor is the joint effort of two authors whose backgrounds and talents are as different as the cultures that called the island home over its many years. And yet, Naomi Hirahara and Geraldine Knatz have sewn together a story as compelling as any documentary or historical epic. In the words of the chair of the history department at the University of Southern California, Professor William Deverell, who penned the Foreword:


History is a great tool for excavation. When wielded with skill and dexterity, history unearths the past, lifts people and pathos into view, offers ideas and explanations to fathom mysteries, and then finds safe places to store discoveries and theories. That deftness is well in hand here—the authors of Terminal Island: The Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor have gone deep into our shared regional past, carefully unpacking and peeling back time’s layers, and they’ve found a safe, beautiful place both to reveal and care for their findings. In these pages are many lives, many eras, many individual moments and events, all somehow knotted by place, all looped together by the necklace woven of the fascinating history of the littoral zone that makes up the Los Angeles Harbor and one fascinating island in it. There is much to learn here.

Couple the work of two writers with the work of photo curator Eric Lynxwiler, an image researcher driven to show the story in as passionate visual detail as the authors tell it, and Terminal lsland: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor cannot disappoint. With more than 230 images in color and black-and-white, it is a book so beautiful, so emotional, and so true, that this single volume will forever be the definitive story of a place whose details only a few Angelenos can remember. To them, this book is dedicated.


  • Naomi Hirahara is an multi-award-winning author and journalist who was born and raised in Pasadena, California, received her bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University, and studied at the Inter-University Center for Advanced Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo. She was a reporter and editor of The Rafu Shimpo during the culmination of the redress and reparations movement for Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II. She is the author and/or editor of several books including: Green Makers: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California (2000), A Taste for Strawberries: The Independent Journey of Nisei Farmer Manabi Hirasaki (2003), A Scent of Flowers: The History of the Southern California Flower Market (2004), among many others. She is also a celebrated author of many mysteries and short stories. She lives in Pasadena.
  • Geraldine Knatz, PhD., has had a passion for history her whole life. From 2006 to 2014, she served as the first female executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, where she oversaw the daily operations and internal management of one of the world’s busiest container ports. Dr. Knatz earned two degrees from the University of Southern California: a doctorate in biological science and a Master of Science in environmental engineering, where she currently is a Professor of Practice in the Schools of Public Policy and Engineering. She also holds an undergraduate degree in zoology from Rutgers University. She was instrumental in establishing the archives of the Port of Los Angeles, from which many of the images and maps in Terminal Island are drawn. Under her leadership at the Port, Ernest Marquez and Veronique de Turenne teamed to write Port of Los Angeles: An Illustrated History from 1850 to 1945, documenting the Port’s centennial anniversary. She is also the author of Long Beach’s Los Cerritos (2014).

Terminal lsland: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor, a book devoted to preserving the history of Los Angeles, is a co-publication of Angel City Press and the Port of Los Angeles.

Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor
by Naomi Hirahara and Geraldine Knatz.
Foreword by William Deverell.
Published by Angel City Press in association with the Port of Los Angeles
ISBN: 978-1-62640-018-4 / $35.00 / 235 images / vintage black-and-white and full-color photographs, ephemera, and maps / 288 pages / softcover / 9”x9”