110 Years and Going Strong
By Mark Edward Nero
If longevity is the strongest measure of success for a business, then Al Larson Boat Shop is easily one of the most successful maritime businesses ever to operate in Southern California. The marine repair facility, located on almost eight acres at the Port of Los Angeles, celebrates its 110th anniversary this year.
Back when Al Larson Boat Shop was founded in 1903, the President of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was just coming into existence and the Panama Canal was still over a decade away from being completed.
In fact, the repair business is so long-lived that it actually pre-dates the Port of Los Angeles itself; it wasn’t until December 1907 that Los Angeles city officials created the Board of Harbor Commissioners, which marked the port’s official founding.
It’s so long-lived that it has outlasted the man it was named after by nearly half a century. The original owner, Al Larson, died in December 1963, almost 60 years after opening his boat repair shop.
Larson was born Dec. 9, 1874 in Mariestad, Sweden, the son of a farmer and youngest of nine children. After immigrating to the United States by way of Ellis Island, he moved to San Francisco in 1890 at the age of 16 and served an apprenticeship at the trade of a boat builder. For 12 years he worked the yards of well-known Bay Area boat builder George Kneass. Larson relocated to San Pedro in 1902 and was a foreman in the yards of H.E. Carse for a short time before opening his own boat yard in 1903.
According to historical records, Larson’s first lease was in an area …
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