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Fort MacArthur facts for kids

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500 Varas Square - Government Reserve
(Fort MacArthur)
(Battery Osgood-Farley)
Battery Farley, with the Korean Bell of Friendship in the background
Nearest city San Pedro, Los Angeles, California
Built 1916
Architect US Army, Quartermaster General
Architectural style Bungalow/Craftsman, Mission/Spanish Revival
NRHP reference No. 86000326
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 12, 1986

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 in honor of Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur. His son, Douglas MacArthur, would later command American forces in the Pacific during World War II.


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. 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.

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.

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 the Los Angeles Air Force Base as an administration and housing facility.

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

Angel's 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 movies as varied as 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.

The Belmont Shore Model Railroad Club occupies 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 U.S. 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.

Angels Gate Cultural Center 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 from a group of San Pedro artists in the 1970s 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 to 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, American Pacific Theater military campaigns, and the role of Los Angeles as a military port.

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