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From the Archives: Statue of Sen. Stephen M. White gets moved

From the Archives: Statue of Sen. Stephen M. White gets moved
Jan. 7, 1987: Statue of former U.S. Sen. Stephen M. White stands in the corner of a utility yard at 1st. and Olive. This photo appeared in the Jan. 28, 1988, Los Angeles Times. ((Jack Gaunt / Los Angeles Times))

Sen. Stephen M. White is known as the father of Los Angeles Harbor. While serving in the United States Senate from 1893 to 1899, White helped procured a federal appropriation for construction of the deep-water harbor in San Pedro.

After White passed away in 1901, the statue of him was commissioned.

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In a Jan. 28, 1988, Los Angeles Times story, Steve Harvey wrote:

For almost three decades, the bronze figure of former U.S. Sen. Stephen White stood on the corner of 1st and Hill streets in downtown Los Angeles, pointing in the direction of the harbor that he helped create in San Pedro.

Now, temporarily repositioned for Metro Rail construction, the sculpture stands in the corner of a utility yard amid trash cans, rolled-up fencing and a portable restroom, pointing toward a sign that says "Public Parking." …

Sen. Stephen M. White, considered the father of the Los Angeles Harbor.
Sen. Stephen M. White, considered the father of the Los Angeles Harbor. ((C.C. Pierce))

While Sen. White (1848-1901) may be unfamiliar to many Southern Californians today, he "was a great hero in the estimate of his fellow citizens," said Bill Olesen, an assistant curator at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro.

It was White who helped persuade Congress to finance construction of Los Angeles harbor in San Pedro.

"He succeeded in getting the breakwater for us (San Pedro) and made it a year-around harbor," Olesen said.

"We'd love to have him at the entrance to our Cabrillo Marine Museum, overlooking the breakwater."

The statue, financed by his admirers, was originally installed in 1908 outside the old County Courthouse at the corner of Temple and Broadway. As late as the 1950s, it was scrubbed down by members of the Native Sons of the Golden West, including Municipal and Superior Court judges. One year, in fact, a controversy arose when some sculptors warned that the bath might damage the patina on the statue.

The sculpture was moved to the environs of the County Courthouse in 1959 after the old courthouse was condemned. …

In 1989, San Pedro received the statue. It's sitting at the entrance to Cabrillo Beach off Stephen M. White Drive.

Sept. 23, 1950: Statue of Sen. Stephen M. White is cleaned by members of the Native Sons of the Golden West. This photo appeared in the Sept. 24, 1950, Los Angeles Times.
Sept. 23, 1950: Statue of Sen. Stephen M. White is cleaned by members of the Native Sons of the Golden West. This photo appeared in the Sept. 24, 1950, Los Angeles Times. ((Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times))
Sep. 13, 1955: White's statue on the Hall of Records lawn, with City Hall a short block away, dimly seen during dense smog. This photo was published in the Sept. 14, 1955, Los Angeles Times.
Sep. 13, 1955: White's statue on the Hall of Records lawn, with City Hall a short block away, dimly seen during dense smog. This photo was published in the Sept. 14, 1955, Los Angeles Times. ((John Malmin / Los Angeles Times))
July 20, 1994: Patrick Rozelli, 11, hangs out at the statue of Stephen M. White overlooking Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
July 20, 1994: Patrick Rozelli, 11, hangs out at the statue of Stephen M. White overlooking Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. ((Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times))
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