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Posted June 29, 2009
There was a time when the great steamships ruled the ocean, and it was actually quite brief, only about four decades or so. The ships that come to mind immediately are Titanic and Lusitania, both lost in tragic circumstance, but that's why they're remembered. There were dozens more that blazed new paths of commerce and travel across the seas, creating not just new industries, but the popular-culture image of the luxurious life aboard the ocean liner, where passengers were cared for as if they were in a great hotel.
The Los Angeles Steamship Co. was just such a venture. Created to serve the then-small port of Los Angeles -- LASSCO as it was called -- lasted just little more than a decade, but it made an indelible impression, as Hollywood moviemakers often called upon the line to create an oceangoing romance or thriller.
All this comes to life in the new book Hollywood to Honolulu -- The Story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company. Authors Martin Cox and Gordon Ghareeb are obviously steamship buffs and spent years examining newspaper mircofilm for every nugget they could find on the vanished line.
It's a fascinating volume, well-illustrated, not just for ocean liner fans but for anyone interested in how Honolulu came to be the crossroads of the Pacific. As every route begins with a starting point, why not Los Angeles? The gamble by Los Angeles businessmen worked -- today, Los Angeles has the busiest port in the nation.