Cruise Line History – Harry Chandler built the Los Angeles Times into arguably the most powerful and successful newspaper on the West Coast. He also was instrumental in starting the Los Angeles Steamship Company in the 1920s to rival San Francisco’s Matson Lines. A wonderful new book tells the story.
Los Angeles photographer Martin Cox grew up in the south of England, half a world away from California. But as a teenager he read about an obscure L.A. institution and a bit history that for some reason he was never able to forget: The Los Angeles Steamship Company.
The LASSCO steamships began to ferry passengers between Los Angeles and Honolulu during the roaring 1920 in smaller and less refined vessels than today’s massive cruise ships. But Cox was surprised when, after moving to Los Angeles as an adult, no one seemed to know what he was talking about when he mentioned the steamship company and its fleet of ships, some of which had a habit of getting into trouble as well as into Hollywood films.
The Los Angeles Times or other bios don’t mention Harry Chandler’s strong association with LASSCO and the publisher’s involvement in organizaing the steamship line.
So, Cox, a 40-something commercial photographer, set out to find out more about the shipping line, a years-long adventure that resulted in a book he co-authored with Gordon Ghareeb, “Hollywood to Honolulu – The Story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company.” Cox will be reading about the book during an appearance this Sunday at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.
Cox’s obsession with the defunct steamship company has also lead him to start a shipping website and to collect more than a 1,000 photos and hundreds of pieces of LASSCO memorabilia, from passenger lists to the ship’s china adorned with poppy and hibiscus blooms – the state flowers of California and Hawaii. But for all his interest in nautical history, Cox rarely travels by water. He gets terribly seasick.