Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, Richmond California

Contra Costa County, California

18 December 2009


Photographs by Neil Mishalov

The FORD ASSEMBLY PLANT was built in Richmond, California during 1929-1930.The plant was designed by ALBERT KAHN, a well known industrial architect of the early 20th Century. The plant is almost 500,000 square feet in size, and originally the workers assembled Model A and Model T Ford cars. The car components were sent to the plant from Detroit using freight trains as the main method of transportation. During World War Two, the workers at the Richmond Ford Assembly Plant stopped assembling civilian automobiles, and switched to assembling light tanks and assorted military vehicles. During the war the factory was known as the "RICHMOND TANK DEPOT." After the war, the plant resumed production of Ford automobiles. The plant closed permanently in 1953. I first viewed the plant structure in the early 1980s. It was a sorry sight to see. Broken windows, bricks dropping off the facade... an empty shell that gave no clue to its glorious past. In the 1990s, there was an effort to rehabilitate the structure, and convert it to a live-work facility. The building never became a live-work facility, but the building has been rehabilitated and occupied by companies such as SUNPOWER and MOUNTAIN HARDWARE, and now, after more than 50 years of disuse, the 80 year old structure is once again filled with the voices of human workers. Plus, the old boiler room has been converted to a restaurant, which is appropriately called the "Boiler Room Restaurant." The Ford Assembly Plant is part of the ROSIE THE RIVETER NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK.

This view of the Ford Assembly Plant shows the tallest section of the factory. The plant was constructed on marsh land, and this section of the plant is at the edge of San Francisco Bay. If you look closely you can see the tracks used by the Southern Pacific Railroad to deliver material for the construction of vehicles.

In this view, the roof of Ford Assembly Plant, as shown above, is visible on the right side of the picture, just below the fuel storage tanks. On the left is the SS RED OAK VICTORY a victory ship constructed at the Kaiser Shipyard in 1944. The ship saw service during World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. The ship is under restoration by a dedicated group of volunteers. The WHIRLY CRANE is a relic from World War two, when it was one of many used in the construction of 747 ships built by the more than 95,000 workers who toiled on 3 shifts, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the 4 Kaiser shipyards located in this immediate area. During World War Two, all metal was a vital part of the war industry. So, in order to build the warehouse at shipyard three, they constructed the warehouse using a majority of concrete, and a minimum of steel. Across San Francisco Bay, in Marin County, stands beautiful and serene MOUNT TAMALPAIS.

Here is a panoramic view of the Ford Assembly Plant

Here is the route I took to and from the Ford Assembly Plant, using my bicycle as the means of transportation. It was a 15.6 mile ride. What is of particular interest to me, and other GPS affectionatos, is that the route track was rendered by my iPhone using RUN KEEPER, a very cool application.

Click on an image to see the full size photograph

IMG_0511.JPG IMG_0516.JPG IMG_0518.JPG
The Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. Built in 1930. Derlict and empty for many years, it has recently been renovated Inside the assembly plant A picture of the plant taken in the 1930's, prior to the construction of Kaiser Ship Yard #1
IMG_0520.JPG IMG_0519.JPG IMG_0517.JPG
During the 1930's, the plant assembled Ford motor cars. An assembly line During WWII the plant assembled light tanks and other military vehicles
IMG_0522.JPG IMG_0523.JPG IMG_0524.JPG
Ready for shipment to the front Outside the plant, on flatbed railroad cars, tanks are awaiting shipment The boiler room of the assembly plant. Now it is a restaurant, appropriately named "The Boiler Room Restaurant."
IMG_0525.JPG IMG_0483.JPG
Inside the restaurant This old dilapidated pier dates back to the 1880's. It was built to transport produce to San Francisco, which can be seen in the distant haze

Go to: My Digital Photo Collection

Go to: Photos from Korea and Japan: 1968 and 1969

Go to: My Return to Korea: October 2003

Go to: Home Page

Go to: Medal of Honor Citation page

This page created on 20 December 2009. All photographs copyright 2009 by NEIL MISHALOV