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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond in Contra Costa County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Ford Assembly Building

 
 
1930-1939 Ford Model A panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
1. 1930-1939 Ford Model A panel
Inscription. Four panels, in two sets of two, describe the pre- and post-war history and uses of the Ford Assembly Building:

1930-1939 Ford Model A

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking." -- Henry Ford

The Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Richmond, California was constructed in the 1930s to produce the new Ford Model A. The factory influenced the development of the inner harbor and port, and as the largest automobile assembly plant on the West Coast, it boosted the local and regional economy during the Great Depression.
Designed by the renowned 20th-century industrial architect Albert Kahn, the 525,000 square foot Ford Assembly Building utilizes natural light from a vast array of windows and skylights (Kahn's trademark "daylight factory"), and has the open-space environment typical of his structures.
Sometimes called 'the architect of Detroit', Albert Kahn worked on more than 1000 commissions from Henry Ford and hundreds from other automakers. The Ford Assembly Building is one of approximately sixty Albert Kahn buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Architecture is 90% business, 10% art." -- Albert Kahn

1940-1945 The War Years

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
1940-1945 The War Years panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
2. 1940-1945 The War Years panel
banned production of civilian automobiles. To support the war effort, the Ford Assembly Plant was retooled to assemble jeeps and process tanks, armored cars, half-tracks, personnel carriers, and other combat vehicles. Named The Richmond Tank Depot, the plant became one of only three tank depots in the entire United States. In just three years, approximately 49,000 jeeps were assembled here, and 91,000 other military vehicles underwent modifications before being shipped overseas.
On the Home Front, women and men, African Americans, minorities and whites, worked side by side of the first time in American history to meet the monumental production demands essential to winning the war.

1956-2004 Abandoned

After World War II, the devastation to the local economy as a result of the closing of the Kaiser Shipyards would have been crippling, had it not been for the continued production of the Ford Assembly Plant. However, the last car rolled out in 1953. Due to inability to accommodate increased productivity demands, the facility closed in 1956 after Ford transferred production to a new San Jose plant.
The building served briefly as a film set, book depository, and lab, and was largely underused for decades.
In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake severely damaged the Ford Assembly Building. Demolition was contemplated, as developers
1956-2004 Abandoned panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
3. 1956-2004 Abandoned panel
failed to find a financially viable way for its reuse while adhering to preservation standards set for the historic landmark site. It remained abandoned and condemned until rehabilitation began in 2004.

Today: Iconic Destination

Orton Development, Inc., with Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects completed the rehabilitation of the 525,000 square foot Ford Assembly Building in 2009. Today, research & development, office, retail, and industrial tenants enjoy state-of-the-art amenities in the historic building. The original south-facing sawtooth roof supports a one-megawatt solar power plant.
The project has won multiple design and sustainability awards, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation Design Award in 2008, and the AIA Honor Award for Architecture in 2011.
The 45,000 square foot bay front Craneway Pavilion, the southernmost portion of the complex, now offers the finest event space in the Bay Area, with stunning architecture and breathtaking views. A 100-seat restaurant is stationed amongst the restored original equipment of the historic Boiler Room. The former Oil House is home to the NPS Rosie the Riveter World War II.Home Front Visitor Education Center.
 
Location. 37° 54.549′ N, 122° 21.458′ W. Marker is in Richmond, California
Today: Iconic Destination panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
4. Today: Iconic Destination panel
, in Contra Costa County. Marker can be reached from Harbor Way South near Hall Avenue, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1414 Harbor Way South, Richmond CA 94804, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Home Front Legacy (within shouting distance of this marker); "Victory ships were a bigger, complicated ship." (approx. half a mile away); "I was truly there and did my part to the end." -- Addie Mae Cance, former shipyard worker (approx. half a mile away); "It was a real workhorse." -- Jim Cannon, Marketing Director, Levin-Richmond Terminal Corp (approx. half a mile away); Dynamic Wartime Port (approx. 0.6 miles away); War Boomtown (approx. 0.7 miles away); Rosie the Riveter Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wartime Changes (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
Also see . . .
1. Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. Ford became Richmond's third largest employer, behind Standard Oil and the Santa Fe Railroad. It is also an outstanding example of 20th-century industrial architecture designed by architect Albert Kahn, known for his "daylight factory" design, which employed extensive window openings that became his trademark. (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
The south wall of the Ford Assembly Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
5. The south wall of the Ford Assembly Building
Two panels of this marker are at the right edge.
 

2. The Rabbi's Son Who Built Detroit -- Forward. Albert Kahn is Americaís forgotten architect — even though in his lifetime, he (and his firm) produced more buildings than any other architect, and his design and production method changed the face of the country. Eighty years before the bailout of the auto industry, just before the Great Depression, Kahn built the most opulent of Detroitís new corporate skyscrapers — the Art Deco-style Fisher Building. Facing the GM headquarters, Kahnís grandest expression of civic architecture defined the unique American union of commercial and civic identity. (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 

3. Albert Kahn: 400 Buildings in Metro Detroit -- I Love Detroit Michigan. The true breadth of Albert Kahnís creative genius has yet to be fully expressed onlineÖ.until now. (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 

4. Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant -- World War II in the Bay Area -- National Park Service. To ensure that America prepared for total war by mobilizing all the industrial might of the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the production of civilian automobiles during WWII. The Richmond Ford Assembly Plant switched to assembling jeeps and to putting the finishing touches on tanks, half-tracked
The west wall of the Ford Assembly Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
6. The west wall of the Ford Assembly Building
Two panels of this marker are found at the corner.
armored personnel carriers, armored cars and other military vehicles destined for the Pacific Theater. By July of 1942, military combat vehicles began flowing into the Richmond Ford plant to get final processing before being transported out the deep-water channel to the war zones.
(Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNotable Buildings
 
A portion of the east wall of the Ford Assembly Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
7. A portion of the east wall of the Ford Assembly Building
Albert Kahn image. Click for full size.
Wikipedia
8. Albert Kahn
Jeeps on the assembly line image. Click for full size.
By Unknown
9. Jeeps on the assembly line
Crated Jeep -- exhibit at the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 19, 2016
10. Crated Jeep -- exhibit at the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center
"Over the course of the war, the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant (next door) was a high-volume factory, producing nearly 50,000 jeeps for the military. Workers received parts by rail, assembled the jeeps, test-drove the finished vehicles, and the partly disassembled them so they could be packed in crates and shipped to army units around the world.
The tough, all-terrain, multipurpose jeep proved to be invaluable to the war effort and was used by every branch of the U.S. military. Many historians think "jeep" derived from the military designation GP ("General Purpose"). Or soldiers may have likened the car to "Eugene the Jeep," a magical jungle pet owned by cartoon hero Popeye the Sailor Man. Whatever the source, the name stuck and remains in use today."
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 213 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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