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Los Angeles-based public radio station KCRW is one of the most respected and progressive radio stations in the world.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle calls Middle Harbor their flagship model for ‘The Port of the Future.’

Rich Dines, Harbor Commission Vice President stands in front of an automated vehicle, which operates without a driver.

The tallest cranes in the world can be found at Middle Harbor, which is expected to fully upgrade two existing container terminals by 2019.

Johnny O tends to his parrot, Bok-Bok. “She's already been on my shoulder this morning and had tobacco and coffee,” he says.

Imports rule at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In 2013 the ports saw a whopping $314.9 billion in imports, while exports only accounted for $80.4 billion in trade.

"I think they were designed really to help people with geography.” Geraldine Knatz Former Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles

"It was rough industry, you know, male dominated, guys peeing in the hatch, doing this, doing that." David Arian Vice President of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners

"It opened up a door for me. It opened up a door for all the women. I think it opened the door for the waterfront." Betty Jacobelly Retired Marine Clerk

APL Shipping Terminal in San Pedro, CA

"Ever since there have been ships sailing the ocean there have been pilots." Robert Lukowski Harbor Pilot at the Port of Los Angeles

"There are gonna be winners and losers at a port level on the West Coast." John McLaurin President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

"What do I love about the ocean? What isn't there to love about the ocean? That's the answer." Johnny O Former Linesman at the Port of Los Angeles

"It seems like the influence on the port or working on the port is just very far reaching. I mean if you're not a longshoreman you're married to one, or your father is one." Joe & Nancy Utovac Owner of Utro’s Cafe & Marine Clerk, San Pedro

"Women have been advanced to the top echelons of of the industry on every level. They're bosses, they're crane operators, they're supercargos like me." Gretchen Williams Supercargo, Matson Shipping

"Everybody is now realizing even more and more, they have to get trained for whatever jobs are going to be left." James “Spinner” Spinosa Former President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)

"You don't need a college education to get this job, but you do need some tough skin and a lot of persistence." Richard Casual Worker

"Cargo is still our most important thing. It's most of our revenue, it pays our bills, but we gotta be creative about how we use the port for other types of things that can create jobs." Geraldine Knatz Former Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles

Longshoremen load cargo from a rolling pallet onto a ship anchored by the dock at the Port of Los Angeles in 1939. Courtesy: WPA collection at the Los Angeles Public Library

Captains Lukowski and Coynes in a quiet moment while riding out to meet the MSC Valeria.

Today, ships are loaded and unloaded using enormous cranes that are operated by longshoremen. Plans are in place at both ports to install automated cranes and driverless trucks, which will mean even less workers at the terminal.

A view from the pilot station of the MSC Valeria, which is almost 400 meters long, squeezing into the harbor.

While bigger ships mean saving money on fuel, they’re also forcing technological innovation at the ports.

The small boat bringing Captains Lukowski and Coynes to the MSC Valeria must match the speed of the huge vessel so the pilots can climb safely aboard.

A look at how cargo ships have grown over time.

Giving Thanks on Skid Row