The steamer pier was originally built in 1887 by George Shatto, who had just purchased Catalina Island and intended to develop a resort community. To accomplish this he first built the pier and a hotel. For over 80 years, the steamer pier was the main access point to Avalon and Catalina Island.
In 1909, the steamer pier was joined by the Pleasure Pier, which was initially utilized by fishermen and other pleasure launches and served as a landing for the glass-bottom boat and other tour boats over the years. The steamer pier continued to grow in size over the years and could accommodate steamships on either side. It remained the primary access to Avalon and Catalina Island until the mid-1960s, when it was dismantled. The Cabrillo Mole was built to replace the steamer pier on the south side of Avalon Bay.
The dismantling was part of a plan in 1965 to totally change the face of the bay. The city planned to take down both the Steamer Pier and the Green Pleasure Pier. The bay was filling up with boats, a sea plane was based at the pleasure pier, the Steamer Pier was getting old, and the city felt more space was needed for mooring boats. The Steamer Pier came down in 1967 but the Green Pleasure Pier survived when the state stepped in and prevented it from being destroyed. State money was obtained to build the Mole but as soon as the steamer began to dock on the sea side of the Mole it proved to be unsafe and eventually they had to build the floats inside the Mole for docking and the steamer itself could not be used.