Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant The Opening
Production at Long Beach actually started in March, 1930, but the official opening took place on April 21, 1930 when Lieutenant Governor H.S,.Carnahan pressed a button at the Pacific Coast Club that started machinery at the Ford plant on Badger Avenue. He characterized the opening as a matter of state-wide importance. Hardly had he pressed the button when the sound of a horn on the "first" completed car came back from the factory over the broadcasting system connecting the plant with the club dining room. "The key to Long Beach is yours" read a full page advertisement by the Mayor and City officials in the Press Telegram. C. W. Williams, Manager for the new plant, read a letter to the luncheon guests from Edsel Ford stating that the state-of-the-art plant marked a new era for life in Southern California.'
After lunch the guests were taken to the new plant in a small boat. A Ford Tri-motor plane parked on the field attracted much interest as did the Ford steamship Oneida as it arrived with a cargo of car and truck parts from the East by way of the Panama Canal. A group of men walked up the gang plank and shook hands with Captain Kaminiski. Through the open drawbridge came an excursion boat decked with pennants. The guests were then ushered into the new show room where a picture of Henry Ford hung on the wall flanked with baskets of flowers. They were then taken through the new plant described as a marvel in production engineering by the newspaper.
''Everything seems to be on wheels, conveyors or hoists. A man reaches up and snatches a riveter, works with it a moment, lets go of it and it leaps back into the air again and hangs suspended, conveniently near. The visitors saw a chassis swung on the assembly line, and a few moments later saw the completed car presented to Mayor Hauge of Long Beach by Lieutenant Governor H. L. Carnahan,"
The Ford Company responded by holding an open house and giving tours for a week following the opening. During the first three days attendance averaged 10,000 a day. A never ending stream four abreast poured through the plant, coming from all parts of Southern California. The Press Telegram praised Ford for its efficiency and reminded its readers that Ford employed "men of families and home owners," an indication of Long Beach citizen's conservative mindset as well as business sense. Business Week that month told its readers that the plant would be serving over 200 dealers on the Pacific Coast alone.
The 1930 plant, as illustrated in the photograph below, consisted of the main assembly building with a two-story office at its north-west comer and the two-story warehouse along its south-east side. The oil house, added in 1930, stood separately on the south-east corner of the Cerritos Channel dock. Two huge Gantry cranes were positioned along the east and main dock and a water tower was on the roof.
AERIAL VIEW OF THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY ASSEMBLY PLANT, PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION OF THE PRESSED STEEL BUILDING, NOTE THE CLIPPER SHIPS IN THE BACKGROUND, AND THE OIL WELLS IN THE UPPER LEFT CORNER