Ford Richmond Assembly Plant, California

Ford in the Bay Area

Industrial Development in Richmond
Design & Construction of Richmond Plant
Ford's Department of Power & Construction
Architect Albert Kahn
The Building, Then and Now
Operation during the 1930s
Production for the Civilian Market in the Early 1940s

The Roosevelt Administration Mobilizes Industry for War
Military Production as War Approaches
History of the Ordnance Department to 1941
The Ordnance Department During World War II
Ford's Conversion to War Production

The Quartermaster Corps & Motor Transport for the Army
The Quartermaster Corps Develops the Jeep
Ford's Production of Jeeps
Jeep Assembly at Richmond
Tanks and the Richmond Tank Depot

Organized Labor in the Auto Industry
Richmond Sit-Down Strike of 1937
Labor During WWII

Re-Conversion Planning
Production during the 1940s & 1950s

Plant Photos
Exterior 2
Interior 2
Exterior 3

This plant was designed to receive unassembled Ford Company parts by ship or railroad and then supply assembled autos to Ford dealers in northern California and Hawaii. During the war, the Richmond Tank Depot, as it was then called, had two basic functions: assembling jeeps and processing combat vehicles for shipment. During the war, the depot employed a relatively large number of women and African Americans. With the war over in 1945, Ford reconverted the Richmond plant to the production of civilian cars and trucks. The plant continued to serve that function within the Ford production system until 1955 when, because of the greatly expanded market for cars in California's post-war economy, the company decided to move its Bay Area operation to a larger site in Milpitas. The Ford Motor Company closed the Richmond plant that year.

The former Ford Motor Company assembly plant at Richmond, California, is one of the cultural resources in Richmond that will house interpretive facilities for the Rosie the Riveter World War II Homefront National Historical Park, which is in development by the National Park Service.

The Ford plant is associated with Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company. Ford is one of the most important American capitalists of the twentieth century. As a member of the "big three" in the U.S. automobile industry, his company helped shape one of the most influential technologies in American life, the automobile. Ford and his company developed the assembly line, a method of mass production that greatly altered the way Americans and much of the world now manufacture the material culture of modem society. The Ford system, while headquartered in the Detroit area, embraced the entire country and indeed much of the world through a network of branch assembly plants, of which the Richmond plant was one. Albert Kahn, the single most important American architect associated with factory buildings, designed the Richmond plant. The Ford system also greatly altered the work lives of the people employed by it. Their responses, both individually and as groups, especially by means of labor unions, is one of the major stories in the history of the American people during the twentieth century. Workers at the Richmond plant were an integral part of that story through their organization of Local No. 560 of the United Auto Workers of America. The activities of industrial plants (giant corporations and small producers alike), of rank-and-file industrial workers, and of systems of mass production all came together during World War II as parts of yet another large-scale technological system, the mobilization of America's industrial prowess to produce the weapons, vehicles, and supplies needed by the United States and its Allies to emerge victorious from the most terrible war the world has known.