Today, the seaside community of Santa Monica could hardly be more different from the sprawling harbor district adjacent to San Pedro. An industrial landscape dominates the Harbor Area--the beaches of the former San Pedro Bay have been converted to landings, and its seas stilled by breakwaters. Santa Monica's landscape, meanwhile, retains the marks of its resort-town past with white sand beaches, a carnival pier, and a busy retail district.
But in the late nineteenth century, Santa Monica very nearly supplanted San Pedro as the region's commercial shipping hub. If a late-nineteenth century political struggle between the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Pacific Railroad had ended differently, it is Santa Monica that might today be crawling with semi-trailer trucks, cranes, and container ships.