Terminal Island

Terminal Island

Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor

written by Geraldine Knatz and Naomi Hirahara

photo editor: J. Eric Lynxwiler

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.

  • 288 pages
  • full color throughout
  • 200+ images
  • 9w"x9h"
  • softcover: ISBN 978-1-62640-018-4; $35.00

    Retailers: contact the Port of Los Angeles to order this book

    $35.00 USD