Happy birthday, San Pedro.

March 1 will mark 125 years since the community was incorporated as a city.

San Pedro's independent cityhood didn't last. Twenty-one years later, in 1909, it was annexed into the city of Los Angeles, the growing metropolis to the north that wanted the port under its wing.

But based on the success of the community's yearlong centennial celebration in 1888, that doesn't matter much.

Now, plans are ramping up for several parties to take place throughout 2013 marking the town's 125th birthday, kicking off with a March 1 dinner honoring several of San Pedro's over-85 residents and culminating with a two-day summer street festival in August.

Fishing has long been a vital part of San Pedro’s history. Fishing boats still line the wharf near Ports O’ Call.
Fishing has long been a vital part of San Pedro's history. Fishing boats still line the wharf near Ports O' Call. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)

"I'm always excited about anything that will enhance the image of San Pedro, anything that makes people aware of the history and of what people have done for the progress of this town," said Joe Marino of San Pedro, a retired Los Angeles schools principal and one of the honorees.

Marino was chairman of the San Pedro Centennial Committee that orchestrated events throughout the community's 100th birthday party celebration.

There have been some significant changes to the town since the centennial, he said, noting especially the improvements in the port's waterfront development.

"Hopefully, we can get moving in a more rapid pace on the development of the Ports O' Call area," he said.

The 1880s through the early 1900s were deemed San Pedro's "Golden Age" in the popular pictorial history of the town published in 1993 by the San Pedro Bay Historical Society.

Those decades moved the town from a few scattered frame houses and shacks to the beginnings of a bustling port.

After its incorporation as a city on March 1, 1888, San Pedro began to blossom, with the expansion of the railroad and plans to construct a 2-mile federal breakwater ensuring its future as a trade hub.

Bonds and funding needed to continue the port's expansion led to the consolidation of Wilmington and San Pedro into the city of Los Angeles in 1909.

But the Harbor Area has remained fiercely independent, even launching a breakaway secession movement that ultimately failed in 2002.

San Pedro's 125th celebration probably won't rival the centennial blowout that included old-fashioned town square parties and picnics, historic re-enactments, banquets, special street banners, antique car, boat and street parades, a bridge walk (1988 also marked the 25th anniversary of the Vincent Thomas Bridge), and concerts, festivals, street fairs and fireworks.

Iconic images of San Pedro include the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the gantry cranes along the harbor’s main channel.
Iconic images of San Pedro include the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the gantry cranes along the harbor's main channel. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)

But plans for this year's celebrations are still very much in the works and gathering steam, said Valerie Goodman, marketing director for the San Pedro Historic Waterfront PBID, the property owners' assessment district taking the lead on the project.

The centerpiece event looks like it will be a two-day summer festival - tentatively being planned for Aug. 3-4 - that will close Sixth Street to traffic and feature entertainment from two stages, a children's parade, a carnival, concert and a craft beer and wine tasting area.

The March 1 Living Treasures dinner and show kicking off the celebration will feature tunes from the 1920s and '30s by Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys, a "Dancing Through the Decades" performance by the People's Place Dance and Fitness Studio, and a living history tribute.

In addition to Marino, those being honored include Jean Wilder, Harry Hall, Anne Gusha, Muriel Olguin, Matty Domancich, Goldeen Kaloper, Thelma Gatlin and Helen DiMaggio.

Another planned event involves a historic walking tour, taking in the downtown's window displays created by the historic society. The displays make use of old photographs and other items in the town's archives.

Goodman said much of the focus also will be on pulling locals and out-of-the-area visitors back into the town's historic downtown and along the developing waterfront.

"This is a phenomenal downtown," she said. "There's this wonderful vitality here."

donna.littlejohn@dailybreeze.com

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Want to go?

What: Living Treasures dinner and show kicking off San Pedro's 125th birthday celebration

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 601 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

When: 5 p.m. March 1

Information: Tickets $50; call 310-832-7272