March 1, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Harbor light, affectionately known as the Angels Gate Lighthouse. The lighthouse has marked the entrance of Los Angeles Harbor through times of war and peace, and even survived a tidal wave! The tower itself has undergone many changes through the years. The distinctive green flash of the Angels Gate Lighthouse remains a welcoming beacon to professional mariners and recreational boaters alike.
As with most icons, myths surrounding this lighthouse continue to abound. The most famous story claims that the tower’s southeasterly “tilt” was caused by a collision with a battleship. This is untrue, and in reality the leaning tower is most likely due to a combination of subsidence, earthquakes, and wind storms.
Many lighthouse keepers served at Angels Gate until the early 1970s, when automation made it possible to maintain the light from nearby Terminal Island. Due to its remote location, lighthouse keeping at Angels Gate was not considered a pleasant assignment, and many keepers walked off the job. One long-time keeper was Willard Miller, a US Navy veteran and amateur woodworker. Miller spent his spare time at the lighthouse making wood carvings and building elaborate music boxes.
Here is how the lighthouse tower looked in the summer of 2010. The years had taken their toll on the plaster and iron structure. Thanks to the efforts of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters, the tower’s exterior was rehabilitated soon afterwards.
Below is a recent view of the Angels Gate lighthouse, ready for its next century!