The Port of Los Angeles will unveil the new centerpiece of its LA Waterfront: Downtown Harbor and Town Square on June 20. Situated between the World Cruise Center and Ports O’ Call Village, the port said that Downtown Harbor is a vibrant, new public harbor and plaza that connects downtown San Pedro to the LA Waterfront.

“This project, which was completed on time and more than $4 million under budget, exceeds all of my expectations on design and feel,” said Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino. “Downtown Harbor will become the source of memories that will last a lifetime. I commend the Port of Los Angeles on delivering a substantial asset for our community.”

Downtown Harbor opens up 1.2 acres of existing waterfront between Fire Station 112 and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Previously a parking lot, the space has been transformed with a new harbor inlet for recreational vessels to dock free of charge for up to four hours. Surrounding the inlet is a public plaza and pedestrian promenade that features trees and landscaping, decorative lighting, a picnic area, and an overlook pier.

“The completion of Downtown Harbor is a major step forward as we continue to enhance the LA Waterfront experience for residents and visitors,” said Ambassador Vilma Martinez, president of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission.

“Collaboration with the community made it clear that completing the Downtown Harbor project was a top priority and suggestions from public workshops were adapted into the project’s final design,” said Gary Lee Moore, interim executive director of the port.

Artistic elements accent the public open space. LED lights are strung among the palm trees, identical street pole lights outline the plaza’s perimeter, and “Warner Grand” art deco pathway bollards dot the water’s edge. The area gives a nod to its historical, maritime roots, featuring 20 of the Maritime Museum's outdoor artifacts, including anchors, propellers, and a World War II torpedo.

The official public art installation, The Ship Chandler by artist Mark Dion, is an approximate 9-by-12-foot cabin comprised of salvaged materials that represent the port during the 19th and 20th centuries. Designed to be viewed from the outside looking in, the structure is located in the plaza area near the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Bench seating and wood tables by local San Pedro artist Harold Greene feature inlaid nautical flags that correspond to a letter in the alphabet. At each table corner, flags spell out P-O-L-A for Port of Los Angeles.

Construction began in March 2012 at a total cost of $32 million.

During the grand opening community celebration from 6 to 8 p.m., the public will enjoy live surf music from the San Pedro band The Riptides, food and beverage booths, and local entertainment. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has extended its hours to 7 p.m. to coincide with the opening ceremony on June 20.

The town square also features a public plaza and open amphitheater for community events. On Friday, August 1 at 7 p.m., the Port will host a free showing of the classic 1988 film Big, projected from a floating barge over the water. And on Wednesday, August 20 at 10 a.m., the sailing ships return with a grand parade of sail into port to kick off Tall Ships Festival LA 2014.

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