This past weekend our family spent all day Saturday in San Pedro (CA). This is a small town just about 20 minutes away over a couple of bridges from our hometown of Long Beach. We used to go over quite frequently for mornings out a few years ago when T was just a toddler as there’s so many wonderful and free family-focused outings (or so inexpensive they might as well be free). A posthumous thank you to Huell Howser for introducing our family to these and so many other wonderful places so many years ago.
We started our “San P” Saturday with a trek over to the Los Angeles Fire Department Harbor Museum. Also known as the “Old 36s,” this museum resides at the former fire station 36 along the waterfront on Beacon Street (cross-street 6th St.). It houses some of LA’s most historic fire vehicles, equipment, and other memorabilia from events over the last several decades that LAFD has been in operation down at the harbor.
The trucks are gorgeous. No, you cannot climb onto the trucks, man the hose wheels, or sit in the cars, but you can spend a long while just looking at the awesome detail and preservation that’s gone into putting these pieces on display for the public. Kids and adults alike can appreciate the way that fire detail has evolved over the years, as well as how advanced it was for its original time.
There are also several displays at the harbor fire museum showcasing fire hats, protective suits, and other tools and gear. Because this is more of a harbor-focused museum, there are many cases of aquatic gear and tools to study. The museum also houses a few understated yet poignant tributes to the 9-11 tragedy, including letters from children to FDNY in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes.
And not too far from the museum is Fireboat #2 (The Ralph J. Scott), a National Historic Landmark. While we didn’t get over to the boat on this trek, we’ve gone a few times before (there’s a bit of construction and dredging going on down at San Pedro Harbor, making the once easy walk a little more indirect). To say that the crew working at the adjacent and active fire station #112 does its best to make visitors feel welcome is an understatement, as you can see from the photo of T in the fire truck.
The Harbor Fire Museum in San Pedro is open every Saturday from 10 a.m.-to-3 p.m. Admission is free but donations are welcome. It’s run by mostly retired fire department personnel from the area, and all staffers are volunteers. If you stop by, be sure to sign the guest book and pass along your gratitude for their service.
Landlubbers can check out LAFD’s other historical and more inland location, Old Station 27, a restored fire station-turned-museum in the heart of Hollywood on N. Cahuenga just south of Sunset Blvd. Their public hours are every Saturday from 10 a.m.-to-4 p.m.; admission here is free as well (donations welcome).