Richmond, California played a nationally recognized part in the World War II Home Front. The City was home to 56 different war industries including four shipyards. It grew overnight from a small city of 24,000 people to a bustling, and bursting, 100,000 people, overwhelming the available housing stock, roads, schools, businesses and community services.
Recruiters brought people in record numbers, with large migrations from the south and other parts of the US. With the emphasis on jobs for women, young girls from poor families were sent on their own to find jobs or lived with relatives who had already arrived. Mostly, people lived in anything they could find, sometimes in cars, in wagons or trailer camps, or sleeping in movie theater seats, many workers resorted to sharing what was called a “warm bed” where they slept in a bed in their own room for one shift and someone else rented it from them for another 8 hours. As the war effort continued, meeting people’s needs for shelter, food, childcare and medical care became a top priority for more enlightened employers.
The park sites below chronicle the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser and others, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome the odds.