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America on the Move
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Container Back Story

Container Revolution

Port of Los Angeles
Port of Los Angeles

In 2002, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach were the top two U.S. ports for containerized exports and imports, handling 7,244,000 TEUs (twenty equivalent units-a 20 foot container is one TEU; a 40 foot container is two TEUs).

When the America on the Move team began exploring the universe of stories that could be told in the exhibition, one that kept surfacing was containerization—the technological and operational revolution that transformed the way cargos are loaded and moved among ships, trains, and trucks. We embraced this topic, for it not only involves all three modes of surface transportation, but containerization’s impact on global commerce in the last quarter of the 20th century can hardly be overstated. (In the year 2000, the value of containerized cargos entering and leaving United States ports totaled more than $600 billion.) While we agreed that the topic had to be included, the task remained to pinpoint the time and place for the container story setting.

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