Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant Demise Period

As wells produced oil on one side of the Ford property and an assembly plant produced vehicles on the other. Ford Long Beach looked like a real success story in 1956. It was in fact heading toward plant closure. Demise did not come all at once, and in fact the plant broke some records in its last years; but subsidence of the property under the plant was constant. It is altogether fitting that an update on its progression should serve as an introduction to this section.

Subsidence in Long Beach had been noted in surveys as early as 1928. Until 1939 elevation changes were small, amounting to an average of about half an inch a year. Development of the Wilmington Oil field led to a rapid acceleration of subsidence, the Long Beach Oil Development Corporation being responsible for pumping oil from under the Long Beach Harbor. It soon found its office sitting in a hole surrounded by dikes higher than the peak of its tiled roof. The Edison Plant south of Ford's site sank 27 feet. The United States Naval Base and Shipyard had sunk eleven feet by 1950 forcing it to close until the beginning of the Korean War. The Ford plant ultimately subsided 14-18 feet. Even as the site dropped to five feet below sea level in the 1950s, the unexpected happened. A flood of water came toward it not from the Cerritos Channel, but from land side.