Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photo Essay: The Light at Angel's Gate

I first spotted the Angel's Gate Lighthouse – officially known as "Los Angeles Harbor Light" – from atop the Point Fermin Lighthouse. I couldn't help but notice the huge Pacific Ocean waves crashing against the breakwater that curved and stretched out for two miles from the shore to a tiny black and white striped lighthouse.



We heard stories of people trying to hike the rock wall to reach the solar powered lighthouse – where a keeper became unnecessary upon automation in the 1970s – but the sea is too volatile out there, making it too dangerous of a trek, and forbidden.



Fortunately, you can take a U.S. Water Taxi from the Port of Los Angeles.



Boat trip tickets are sold as a fundraiser for the upkeep of the lighthouse...



...which was restored by the Cabrillo Beach Boosters in 2012...



...just in time for its centennial.



If you can get a minimum of ten people together, you can take the boat ride out to Angel's Gate...



...see it up close...



...walk out on the breakwater yourself...



...and say hello to a sea creature or a pelican flying by.



The lighthouse is built on a huge concrete block, which was once the foundation of a private residence that got washed away by a tsunami.



The lighthouse itself was constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, the first and only of its kind.



The structure has proved resilient to the waves, but recently, its front gate wasn't so lucky.



Waves tore it off its hinges and tossed it off the side onto the rocks. Half of the gate is still missing.



The lighthouse exterior was originally white, but its signature black vertical stripes were added for increased visibility during fog conditions.



Before the restoration a couple years ago, windows were broken, and everything – inside and out –was covered in rust...



...but all the walls have since been sandblasted...



...and painted and covered with an extra coat of zinc for protection.



Although the lighthouse feels a bit abandoned...



...it is just unoccupied.



It is fully operational...



...with battery cells powered by solar panels...



...although when it first opened, unlike its candlelit peers...



...it was powered by electricity.



Angel's Gate Lighthouse is four stories high...



...with spiral staircases winding up through the tower...



...reaching an exterior platform along the way...



...and through various rooms that used to be used for radio transmissions, etc.



It leans a little to the South.



The lighthouse is in a critical position in the Port of Los Angeles, still an active shipping harbor with plenty of deep sea vessels trying to navigate the rough waters. A foghorn still blasts.



And after a narrow ladder climb up to the top...



...you reach the characteristic (now solar-powered) green light...



...though not the original 4th-order Fresnel lens (made in Paris by Barbier, Bernard, and Turenne and on display at the Maritime Museum)...



...and soon to be upgraded.



It's a beacon essential to preventing shipwrecks, and flashes every 15 seconds...



...operated by remote control by the Coast Guard.



Not only can you see it from afar...



...but, on a clear day, from its uppermost catwalk, you can practically see forever.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Point Fermin, Keeping Watch Over the San Pedro Bay
Photo Essay: Hike to a Ghost Shipwreck
Photo Essay: Southwest Marine Shipyard at Terminal Island, A Japanese Fishing Village Ghost Town