From 1926 until 1970, piers 30 and 32 were famous as the San Francisco base of operations of the Matson Line, founded by Captain William Matson, who in 1882 borrowed $4,000 from a scow schooner man to buy shares in the sailing schooner Emma Claudina, which he sailed to Hawaii to bring back a load of sugar. It was the beginning of the Maston Navigation Company, which profited greatly from its Hawaiian connections in sugar, pineapple, oil, and a belief that islands could become a paradise in the Pacific for cruise ships.
Built in 1926, the double piers 30 and 32 are seen above in 1945, when the Matson vessels were painted battleship gray and converted to carry thousands of troops and their supplies to the Pacific. Matsonia is in the center, the Lurline is on the left at Pier 32, and Monterey is on the right at Pier 30. The Key System ferry boat was renamed Ernie Pyle, in honor of everybody's favorite wartime correspondent; it brought many soldiers destined for the war in the Pacific to this Matson Pier, where they embarked on their dangerous trip west. Directly in back of the piers was the Santa Fe Railroad freight yard and the five-story Matson Line Company building, designed to stock all the ship's supplies.
Lurline III past Diamond Head into Honolulu; her arrival always set off an island celebration. Her passengers could look forward to nostalgic music by the band, leis of flowers showers of streamers, and traditional dances of welcome.
(map of the Lurline South Seas and Orient cruise and photograph 3)
The dream of every movie-struck girl in the 1920s and 30s was to take a Matson cruise and find you deck-chair partner to be Douglas Fairbanks Jr., seen here in conversation with Miss California. Whether you travelled on the flagship Lurline to Hawaii, or on the sleek steamers Yale or Harvard on over-night between San Francisco and Los Angeles, shipboard romance sold tickets.
Piers 30-32 saw a dramatic confrontation on May 9, 1934, when members of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union burned union cards in front of Pier 32. They shut the port down, leaving more than sixty ships stranded. The National Guard was called out, as seen in the view above, and by July 5th - remembered as "Bloody Thursday" - mounted police threw tear tear gas to drive stickers back from Pier 34 to Piers 30-32. One thousand policeman (sic) battled with five thousand union men up the slopes of Rincon Hill. Two were killed, hundreds were injured. It became a long and bitter general strike in which union demands were met.
(on the back of the pylon)
Matson Line Passenger Vessels that Sailed from Piers 30-32
Lurline II, 6571-ton passenger steamer, 1908-1928 · Wilhelmina, 5974-ton passenger steamer, 1909-1940 · Manoa, 6806-ton passenger steamer, 1913-1942 · Matsonia, 9402-ton passenger steamer, 1913-1937 · Maui, 9801-ton passenger steamer, 1917-1941 · Malolo, renamed Mastsonia #2, 17,232-ton passenger liner, 1927-1948 · Lurline #3, 18,564-ton passenger liner, 1932-1963 · Yale, 3818-ton passenger liner, 1931-1941 · Harvard, 3825-ton passenger liner, 1931-1941 · City of Los Angeles. 12,641-ton passenger liner, 1899-1937 · Sierra, 6076-ton passenger liner, 1901-1934 · Sonoma, 6279-ton passenger liner, 1901-1934 · Ventura, 6282-ton passenger liner, 1900-1924 · Mariposa #2, 18,017-ton passenger liner, 1932-1953 · Monterey #2 18,170-ton passenger liner, 1832-1982