"They were from all over the country... all these people came to work here in Richmond at the shipyards...The shipyards, the cannery, there was a lot of industry here...They had three yards, and they were sending out ships every day... and I swear it was mostly women that were doing this." Mary Lou Cordova, Richmond teenager during WWII Thanks, now goodbye!
Miles of undeveloped shoreline and access to the deep waters of the bay made Richmond the location of choice for the largest and most productive shipyards during World War II. The US government and private industrialists became partners in new ways, laying the groundwork for what President Einsenhower later called the "Military/Industrial Complex." Together they created innovative plants and production methods designed to rapidly supply the war effort.
Henry J. Kaiser's company, the Permanente Metals Corporation, designed and constructed Shipyard #3 as a permanent facility, which is one reason it is still relatively intact. Though all shipbuilding and wartime industry is gone, this is still an active port. Five historic buildings remain: the machine shop. general warehouse, riggers loft (with paint and sheet metal shop), first-aid station, and cafeteria.
In 1945 when the war ended, most of the shipyard shut down. With returning servicemen re-entering the workforce, tens of thousands of shipyard workers, many of whom were women and people of color, were laid off from their jobs.