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Photos by Asia Morris.

The Historical Society of Long Beach will open its doors this Friday, August 7 to viewers interested in the fascinating story of the Port of Long Beach’s humble beginnings. Port Town: A Historical Photo Exhibit can be viewed during the Bixby Knolls First Fridays event from 6:30PM to 9:30PM and through November 6.

DSC 0088“The harbor is one of the biggest economic drivers in the city,” explained Julie Bartolotto, executive director of the Historical Society for Long Beach, during a press preview of the exhibit on Wednesday. “So to have an understanding of Long Beach, where it came from and where we are now and where we’re going, it’s important to understand the story of the port. And that’s over 100 years of history.”

The exhibit is a visual companion to the newly published, text-rich history book, Port Town: How the People of Long Beach Built, Defended, and Profited From Their Harbor, written by veteran Long Beach maritime industry journalists George and Carmela Cunningham. The book will be available for purchase that evening.

DSC 0107“This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn more about our Long Beach history,” said Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond in a statement. “The innovative spirit of the Port’s pioneers continues today as we build the sustainable, world-class port of the future.”

Bartolotto noted the outdated tools the longshoremen used to move cargo before containerization, shown in a display of what looks like medieval-era torture instruments, before the arrival of the SS Elizabethport in 1962, the first containerized vessel to call there. The display serves as a true testament to the dangers inherent to the job back then.

“So you’ve heard of a hay hook?” she asked. “These are all the different kinds of hooks for moving all the different kinds of goods.”

DSC 0092The fascinating tools are just a few of the one-of-a-kind artifacts, ship models, rare photos and video that will give each viewer extensive insight into the port’s history. 

Bartolotto also noted Long Beach’s changing waterfront over the past century as a major point of interest, with the construction of the breakwater in 1899 to mark the beginning stages of the port’s development.

Check out the exhibit at the Historical Society of Long Beach on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:00PM to 5:00PM; Thursdays, 1:00PM to 7:00PM; Saturdays, 11:00AM to 5:00PM; Sundays and Mondays, closed. Special First Fridays evening events are also planned for September 4, October 2 and November 6.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].