Hollywood to Honolulu – The Los Angeles Steamship Company’s Voyages to Hawaii in the Roaring ‘20s
This is the story of how a little-known steamship company founded in 1920 would dominate passenger service from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Its stylish ships and celebrity passengers made the voyage glamorous and helped establish the port of Los Angeles as a major passenger ship destination. Steamship historians Martin Cox and Gordon R. Ghareeb were the guest curators,, and they have combined their personal collection of LASSCO artifacts with their in-depth knowledge of the subject to create a vivid presentation.
In 1920 the only available steamship travel to Hawaii from California was from San Francisco. LASSCO’s directors envisioned the Los Angeles to Hawaii route as an opportunity for new growth. In September of 1920 LASSCO general manager Samuel Naphtaly met with members of the United States Shipping Board to arrange for a charter of surplus World War I ships. The Shipping Board allocated the German liners AEOLUS and HURON later that year to LASSCO. Arriving at the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1922, the ships were refurbished for tropical service, painted white, and renamed CITY OF LOS ANGELES and CITY OF HONOLULU.
These sleek passenger ships would soon be joined by the CALAWAII and later a second CITY OF HONOLULU. [The first City of Honolulu sank on her maiden voyage] A new service to Hawaii was born, with Wilmington as the port of departure for Los Angeles. In 1927, the combined sailings of Los Angeles Steamship Company vessels would carry more passengers to Hawaii than the rival Matson Line.
The exhibit included vintage recordings of Hawaiian Music, while celebrity photographs attested to the glamorous appeal of the L.A. Steamship Company. Original china, silverware, and personal items from LASSCO passengers were also on display.
The exhibit was on view through Sunday August 29, 2004.
For more information on the Los Angeles Steamship Company, click here.