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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

San Pedro’s “Sunken City”

The most popular spot in San Pedro, California is also the toughest ticket in town. It’s closed off, behind a gated fence, and clearly marked with “no trespassing” signs.

So how did the “Sunken City” become an online phenomenon?

Take away the access, and this collection of hiking trails that overlook the Pacific Ocean, with Catalina Island some 22 miles away directly across, is now a must-see ticket.

There’s several Sunken City Facebook fan pages,  nearly 50,000 #SunkenCity hashtags on Instagram and even a Yelp page with nearly 250 reviews. Despite the gates and signs to keep people out, this area is packed on weekends, with people who have figured out a way to slither right through the gate, in some cases elongating an opening by force.

All to see the section of town where a 1929 landslide slipped several homes down a crumbling cliff, leaving behind a rubble that has yet to be totally cleaned up to this date, and is now a haven for tagging and posing.

Thank you social media!

Do know that local police have been known to give tickets for visiting the area, while at the same time, local officials are talking about ways to deal with the crowds and just open the doors legally.

On a recent San Pedro Photowalk with my friend Ginni McNeely (@ginnigabu and @losangelesgrammers on Instagram) the gate just happened to be wide open on a Friday morning, so we took a chance and stepped inside. Local fire department pros were practicing rescue drills. What was the worst that could happen? We’d be kicked out.

Didn’t happen.

The Sunken City Trail is directly behind Walker’s Cafe, the historic biker hangout at the tail end of Point Fermin Park. Another way to see it, if you don’t want to deal with gates and “No Trespassing” signs, is to go down to Cabrillo Beach around the corner, and hike underneath, looking up at Point Fermin.

Photowalks by Jefferson Graham

Spectator enjoying the view from the edge of the “Sunken City” off Point Fermin Park in San Pedro, California. Part of the #Photowalks series by Jefferson Graham

Photowalks by Jefferson Graham

A painted tree in the “Sunken City” of San Pedro, where a landslide in 1929 sent several homes tumbling down a hill. 

Photowalks by Jefferson Graham

Photowalks by Jefferson Graham

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