Obscura Society LA: The Shoreline Ruins of San Pedro - Atlas Obscura
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San Pedro, California

Obscura Society LA: The Shoreline Ruins of San Pedro

From landslides to World War II, the coast is rife with dramatic tales and intriguing histories.

Join Field Agent Robert Hemedes on an exploration of a fascinating area by the Pacific Ocean, which began as a resort community and transformed into frontline defense ground for World War II and the Cold War.

We'll begin our journey by braving an active landslide area at the White Point Preserve, whose nature center is a converted gun emplacement from the Cold War-era Nike missile launch site, which was decommissioned in the 1970s. A docent from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy will lead us through the preserve, where we'll look for more military relics and learn about the history of land use – from rancho to military to open space – as well as habitat, wildlife, and the geological phenomenon that's created a dangerous slide area.

Following White Point Preserve, we'll cross over to White Point-Royal Palms, a secluded beach that once offered its visitors healing waters and a dance-floor – until the military took over. Explore the remains of a country club, a health resort, and a Japanese fishing village that are now populated by sea anemones and other unusual life forms that live in the wet nooks and crannies.

A haven for fishermen and beachcombers, White Point rose in popularity because of its geothermal sulfur hot springs, whose healing waters drew huge crowds in the 1920s and 30s – even the 1932 Japanese Olympic team. In 1933, the Long Beach earthquake blocked the flow of the hot springs and severely damaged the structures, a few traces of which remain.

Although the Royal Palms Country Club is now gone, we can still walk across its terrazzo dance-floor, and past its stone fireplaces and benches, as we explore the unusual geology along the coastal bluffs, and a Stonehenge-like collection of crumbling concrete slabs along this section of the San Pedro shoreline. 

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Notes for this adventure:

We will be hiking about 2 miles round trip at a moderate pace.

Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes for walking on a graded paved road, uneven surfaces, and rocks.

We will be arriving at low tide, but depending on how adventurous you are, be prepared to get your feet a little wet.

Temperatures can fluctuate wildly at the beach during the summer and in the morning. Wear layers you can remove and please wear sun protection!

Bring plenty of water, and feel free to bring a snack or a lunch to enjoy in the picnic area.

Restrooms available onsite.

Limited free parking available.

Family-friendly (but not stroller-friendly).

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