Chicken of the Sea Cannery | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Chicken of the Sea Cannery

Terminal Island’s longest-operating cannery, the Chicken of the Sea Cannery was instrumental in building Los Angeles’ highly successful tuna canning industry.

Known as Van Camp Seafood Company from 1914 through 1997, the company helped transform the industry. Owner Frank Van Camp and his son Gilbert introduced innovations, such as refrigerated fishing boats, that remained industry standards for decades.

The company is credited with introducing canned tuna on a mass scale to the American consumer, particularly the housewife, as an affordable substitute for chicken. It was widely recognized for its Chicken of the Sea brand and the iconic Mermaid logo introduced in 1952. The company was officially renamed Chicken of the Sea in 1997.

This facility was the last operational cannery at the Port of Los Angeles and the last full-scale tuna canning plant in the United States.

The complex of cannery buildings (some of which are historic) was occupied by several fish canning and processing companies between 1912 and 2001. The remaining intact buildings of Van Camp/Chicken of the Sea are excellent representatives of the company that fostered a major U.S. industry and made canned tuna a household staple.

Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Star-Kist Tuna Cannery Main Plant

The familiar Star-Kist Company traces its origins to 1918 on Terminal Island and by 1952 held the distinction of being the single-largest cannery in the world.
Hansen Dam
Photo by Barry Mulling

Hansen Dam

At the time of its construction the dam was the largest of its type in the world, built by a workforce of nearly 1,000 and a stunning illustration of the functional and aesthetic power of good design.