The second World War catapulted Orange into a period of unparalleled industrial growth. In 1940, as the nation prepared for possible entry into the war, the U.S. Navy Office of Shipbuilding placed orders with three shipyards: Levingston Shipbuilding Company, Consolidated Western Steel Corporation and Weaver Shipyards. Production continued to grow after the U.S. entered the war in 1941. Countless jobs had been lost during the Great Depression, and the potential for steady work brought thousands to Orange. The influx of workers increased the city's population from 7,400 in 1940 to more than 60,000 by the end of the war.
To meet the resulting critical housing shortage, the federal government started the Riverside Addition Housing Project in 1942. Located along the Sabine River, Riverside Addition was within walking distance of the shipyards, thereby complying with fuel and tire rationing demands and maximizing wartime production. The fan-shaped site soon included thousands of "demountable" (prefabricated) duplexes, considered to be temporary. Expanded with an addition in 1943, the vast Riverside housing area had three elementary schools and also spawned local businesses.
At the time, Riverside Addition was the largest federal housing project ever undertaken. After the war, the government sold, moved or demolished
many of the units. The city of Orange never took control of the development due to concerns over inadequate infrastructure. Removal of the last houses took place in the 1980s, and today there are few physical reminders of the project that proved vital to the home front mission during World War II.