Fort MacArthur

Fort MacArthur is a former United States Army installation in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California (now the port community of Los Angeles). A small section remains in military use by the United States Air Force as a housing and administrative annex of Los Angeles Air Force Base. The fort is named after Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur. His son, Douglas MacArthur, would later command American forces in the Pacific during World War II.

500 Varas Square – Government Reserve
(Fort MacArthur)
(Battery Osgood-Farley)
Battery Farley, with the Korean Bell of Friendship in the background
Nearest citySan Pedro, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates33°42′43″N 118°17′46″W
ArchitectUS Army, Quartermaster General
Architectural styleBungalow/Craftsman, Mission/Spanish Revival
NRHP reference #86000326[1]
LAHCM #515
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 12, 1986
Designated LAHCMJanuary 22, 1991


In 1888, President Grover Cleveland designated an area overlooking San Pedro Bay as an unnamed military reservation intended to improve the defenses of the expanding Los Angeles harbor area. Additional land was purchased in 1897 and 1910, and Fort MacArthur was formally created on October 31, 1914. The fort was a training center during World War I, and the first large gun batteries for harbor defense were installed in 1917. The effectiveness of these fixed gun emplacements was debated for many years, and test firings were extremely unpopular with nearby residents, the concussion shattering windows in buildings and houses for miles around.

In World War II, Fort MacArthur had a Harbor Entrance Command Post and a Harbor Defense Command Post for US seacoast defense of shipbuilding factories (e.g., CalShip, Todd Pacific), "giant aircraft factories"[2] (Douglas, Hughes, Martin, Northrop), the Huntington Beach Oil Field, and the San Pedro Bay harbor (Port of Los Angeles & Port of Long Beach) which made the Los Angeles metropolitan area a target for attack.

By the end of World War II the large guns were already being removed, with the last decommissioned in 1948. Battery Osgood-Farley is probably the best preserved example of a United States coastal defense gun emplacement, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. A second site, Battery John Barlow and Saxton, was added to the Register in 1982.

Air defense

During the early years of the Cold War, Fort MacArthur became a key part of the West Coast's anti-aircraft defenses, becoming the home base of the 47th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade. A Nike surface-to-air missile battery was activated at the fort in 1954, remaining in service until the early 1970s.

The Fort MacArthur Direction Center (DC) was the U.S. Army Air Defense Command Post (AADCP) for the Project Nike batteries of the Los Angeles Defense Area. It was located at Fort MacArthur from 1960.


The Direction Center provided radar coverage for integrating the area's Integrated Fire Control (IFC) sites (16 sites for MIM-14 Nike-Hercules missiles until 1968).[3][4] The DC had High Frequency Crosstell communication with the 1959–1966 Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) Master Direction Center at Norton Air Force Base (DC-17) for coordinating Army intercepts of targets penetrating through the larger USAF Los Angeles Air Defense Sector defended by fighter aircraft.


During the Korean War, the fort's L-43 Lashup Radar Network site provided radar surveillance for the area from 1950 to 1952.[5] The 669th Radar Squadron was assigned to the fort on January 1, 1951.[6] On February 16, 1960, Lt Col James L McCallister was the Missile Director for the defense area.[7]

The Fort MacArthur Direction Center began in 1960 with an AN/FSG-1 computer that was the last of 10 installed and which replaced an Interim Battery Data Link (IBDL). The Army dedicated the DC's Missile Master bunker with an Antiaircraft Operations Center ("Blue Room") on December 14, 1960, prior to the USAF/FAA ARSR-1C radar opening in 1961 at San Pedro Hill Air Force Station.[8] [9][5] Fort MacArthur's 47th Artillery Brigade operated the DC,[10] and the vacuum tube AN/FSG-1 was replaced on January 31, 1967, with a solid-state Hughes AN/TSQ-51 Air Defense Command and Coordination System.[11]

On November 15, 1968, the 19th Artillery Group (Air Defense) replaced the 47th Artillery Brigade in command of the DC and its batteries.[12] The 19th Group deactivated July 1, 1974, after Project Concise ended Nike operations.[13] The tennis courts next to the bunker remain at the former site of the AADCP's building 554,[14] and the Missile Master nuclear bunker (building 550) was razed c.1985.[15]

Rundown of the fort

In 1975 Fort MacArthur became a sub-post of Fort Ord, and the Army transferred ownership of the fort's Upper and Lower Reservations to the City of Los Angeles two years later. The Lower Reservation was cleared off and dredged and is now the city's Cabrillo Marina.

Fort MacArthur's remaining Middle Reservation was transferred to the United States Air Force in 1982 for use by Los Angeles Air Force Base for administration and housing.[16]

In 1989, Madonna filmed some parts for her Like a Prayer video.

Angels Gate Park

The Upper Reservation is now a city park: San Pedro's Angels Gate Park, home of the Korean Bell of Friendship. It is also frequently used by television and motion picture companies. The artillery emplacements have been seen in the television series 24 and in films including Dragnet, Midway and Tora! Tora! Tora!.

Hostelling International USA (part of Hostelling International) maintains a 57-bed youth hostel in the refurbished military barracks of the reservation.[17]

The Belmont Shore Model Railroad Club has occupied a barracks in Angels Gate Park since the 1980s. The Club has built and maintained an approximate 2500 square foot N-scale (1/160) model of 1950s Southern California railroading, from the Port to the San Joaquin Valley. The club is one of the oldest and largest permanent N-scale model railroads in the United States. The model railroad is open to the public during Open House weekends twice a year and on the second and third Tuesdays of the month.[18]

Angels Gate Cultural Center[19] is located In Angels Gate Park on the bluff of San Pedro overlooking the Pacific, with notable views of ocean, harbor and hills. The Center emerged in the 1970s from a group of San Pedro artists that created artist's studio and exhibition space within the 1940-era Army barracks in Ft. MacArthur Upper Reservation. In 1977, San Pedro's Angels Gate Park became a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, with the requirement that a cultural center be developed for the community. In 1982, the group of local artists expanded their endeavors as an artists’ community and in 1985 Angels Gate Cultural Center was granted non-profit status and a contract with the City of Los Angeles. In 2005, Angels Gate Cultural Center successfully negotiated a 30-year lease with the Department of Recreation and Parks. Today, the Cultural Center presents a year-round schedule of gallery exhibitions, classes and international residencies as well as provides quality, in-depth instruction in the visual and performing arts to students K-12 throughout the Harbor Region with their Artists in Classroom program. Professional artists teach all classes through ongoing classroom residencies. Angels Gate Cultural Center continues to provide professional work-studio space for 52 artists, including musicians, ceramists, painters, sculptors, writers, photographers, printmakers and jewelers.


The Fort MacArthur Military Museum, located at the site of Battery Osgood-Farley, displays exhibits on the history of Fort MacArthur, its role in defending the Los Angeles area, Indo-Pacific Theater military campaigns, and the role of Los Angeles as a military port.

See also


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. "Army Installing First of 19 Midget Missile Master Systems" (PDF). Army Research and Development Newsmagazine. Washington 25, D.C. October 1961. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  3. "Bear Divide and 'the good ol' days'".
  4. Winkler, David F; Webster, Julie L (June 1997). Searching the Skies: The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program (Report). U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  5. compiled by Johnson, Mildred W. (31 December 1980) [February 1973: Cornett, Lloyd H. Jr]. A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson Air Force Base: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 33. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  6. "Tucson Daily Citizen Archives". 1960-02-16. p. 26.
  7. "New Missiles Based Near 18 Important US Targets". The Daily Telegraph. Nashua, New Hampshire. December 16, 1960. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  8. Leonard, Barry (2011). History of Strategic and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume II: 1956–1972 (Google Books). p. 314. ISBN 9781437921311. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
  9. "The Fort MacArthur Museum Association: Air Defense Units in LA".
  10. "'Missile Mentor' to Coordinate L.A. Weapons Unveiled". Los Angeles Times (archives). February 1, 1967. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  11. Berhow, Mark A; Gustafson, David (2011) [1st published 2002]. Fort MacArthur (PDF) (Report) (electronic ed.). Fort MacArthur Military Press. p. 55. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  12. :30
  13. Lower Reservation of Fort MacArthur (Map). available at Fort MacArthur Museum Archives: military publisher tbd. 1972. map published in Berhow/Gustafson 2002, p. 55.
  14. Page, Tom; Morgan, Mark. "Nike 'Missile Master' / 'Missile Mentor' at Fort MacArthur (Site LA-45DC)". Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  15. "The History of Fort MacArthur". Fort MacArthur Museum. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
  16. HI Los Angeles Youth Hostel South Bay – Los Angeles Cheap Hostels California. HIUSA. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  17. More information and photos can be found at:
  18. Angels Gate Art
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