Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nearly a century of service

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meets sometime between June and December 1955. From left: Joseph F. Bishop, H.E. "Bud" Ridings, Jr., John P. Davis, Maurice W. Daubney and W.R. "Frosty" Martin.

Although the Port's history goes back 100 years, the Board of Harbor Commissioners is slightly younger. The story of the Harbor Commission began in 1916, when the Los Angeles Dock and Terminal Co. declared bankruptcy and turned over a massive harbor dredging project to the City of Long Beach. Soon thereafter it became clear that the Port needed a governing body; in December 1916, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce obtained a ruling from the city attorney that the city's charter permitted the creation of a Harbor Commission.

On June 29, 1917, the first board was formed, with members W.T. Lisenby, mayor and commissioner of public property; James R. Williams, commissioner of public safety; and C.J. Hargis, commissioner of public works. This three-member commission lasted for eight years, until it was decided that the Port needed to be an independent city department governed by an independent board.

Since 1925, four women have served on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, all since 1979. From left are Louise M. DuVall, Carmen O. Perez, Susan E. Anderson Wise and Doris Topsy-Elvord.

Thus, on May 18, 1925, the five-member Harbor Commission as we know it today was formed. The members, named by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council, have ranged from experts in the maritime industry to academics, business leaders and politicians. Since 1925, 62 people have served. The Board has evolved over the years; four women have served since 1979 and the Commission's racial makeup has become more diverse, reflecting the changing face of Long Beach.

Click here to see photos and biographies of Harbor Commission members, 1925-present.

Click here for historic photos of the Commission.

No comments: