There are thousands of 1920s craftsman-style dwellings scattered across the Los Angeles basin. They bear witness to the vast spread of the region’s population from small exurban centers to large, sprawling suburbs — the expansion of an American metropolis between the World Wars.
San Pedro is a long-established port city twenty-five miles due south of Los Angeles, poised at the edge of the vast Port of Los Angeles, climbing the lower slopes of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It was established as a port and fishing center by immigrants from traditional seafaring communities: Serbia, Croatia, Italy and Ischia, supported by laborers from Japan and Taiwan. Descendants of these settlers still retain a strong identity in the community.
The city includes structures of every possible architectural style available in the first half of the 20th Century, from neo-Roman banks and art deco schools, to a rich mix of Spanish revival bungalows, Queen Anne houses and hundreds of mail-order Craftsman-style houses.
Here’s a notable example of one kind of land use that was once fairly common across the LA River basin: 12 rental units filling a long, narrow piece of property extending back from the east-west corridor of 1st Street as it runs down toward the San Pedro port. Stretching back from the street are two parallel lines of tidy rental bungalows, six units on each side. A mini-community all its own.
There are more impressive craftsman-era structures in Los Angeles, notably the remarkable Gamble House executed by brothers Greene and Greene in Pasadena. Pasadena and the adjacent cities of Altadena, Sierra Madre and San Marino were developed in the heyday of the craftsman craze, and driving around those towns is a fascinating chance to examine lots and lots of fabulous examples. None, however, display better than these workaday San Pedro structures the combination of style and utility that epitomized the craftsman esthetic.
© Brad Nixon 2009, 2017