Between 1941 and 1945, the four Kaiser shipyards here produced 747 ships (519 Liberty ships, 15 landing ship tanks, 142 Victory ships, 35 troop transports, 24 small Liberty ships, and 12 frigates)—more than any other location. This unusual urban national park is dedicated to the effort here during World War II on the civilian home front. If you’re wondering why Richmond, the town has a deep-water harbor and a plentiful work force. And it is interesting to know that the oldest ranger in the National Park Service— a 92-year-old woman, Betty Reid Soskin--works here.
●Visitor Center Daily 10-5. Begin your visit by viewing “Home Front Heroes,” a short and extremely interesting film about Richmond during World War II. Be sure to take a guess about what is in the Rosie lunch box at the check-in area. Real life Rosies are sometimes available to chat with. I had the good fortune to meet and hear stories from 90-year-old Rosie Mary Torres, who worked here as a journeyman welder from 1943 to 1945.
●Craneway Pavilion (510) 215-6000. Built in 1930, this immense building was originally part of the West Coast’s largest Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. It produced Model As. During World War II, it was converted to assemble jeeps and Sherman tanks and to outfit military vehicles. After the war, it went back to civilian production and closed in 1955. Retaining its architectural integrity and offering walls of windows with expansive bay views, today it is one of the largest event spaces in the Bay Area.
A Celebration of American Rhone Wines is sometimes scheduled. The Rhone Rangers is the leading national organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone wines. More than 90 winery members will pour.
●Assemble Restaurant (510) 215-6025. L M-F, D W-Sat, Sat-SunBr; $$. Located in what was originally a boiler room, this restaurant keeps the industrial decor drama of the building’s natural bones with exposed pipes and high ceilings. Expansive windows look out to the bay. Produce from their Victory Garden, located on site is used in some dishes. The menu changes regularly, but starters might include unusual spiced boiled peanuts or housemade barbecued potato chips. The lunch menu presents items such as a wedge of iceberg lettuce with Green Goddess dressing, chicken pot pie with cheddar cheese crust, and a blackened catfish sandwich. Dessert brings on German chocolate cake, key lime pie, and carrot cakes. Cocktails, draft beers, and wines by the glass are available.
●Rosie the Riveter Memorial 1401 Marina Way So., on site of Shipyard No. 2. Located in a waterfront park where the Kaiser Shipyards once operated, this memorial is a short, scenic walk along the SF BAY Trail from the visitor center. The sculpture depicts a hull under construction and includes Rosie images and history. It measures 441 feet--the length of a Liberty ship--and honors American women’s labor during World War II.
●Red Oak Victory Ship 1337 Canal Blvd., berth 6A, on site of Shipyard No. 3, (510) 237-2933. Tu, Thurs, Sat, Sun 11-3, weather permitting. By donation: $10, seniors $4, under 5 $2; pancake breakfasts $6. This World War II transport and ammunition vessel was built in 88 days and is the only remaining Victory ship built here in the Kaiser Shipyard. Officially a military and Merchant Marine Memorial Ship, it served also in the Korean War as a cargo ship and in the Vietnam War as a mail ship. Call ahead for a guided tour. World War II films are shown in the evening monthly. Fundraiser pancake breakfasts are sometimes scheduled aboard. The thousands of new Hondas you’ll see parked in the the surrounding area are imported and transferred from this still-active port.
More things to do in Richmond.
A Rosie the Riveter story about my own family, centered on San Diego's World War II airplane factories.
More ideas for exploring Northern California.
images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers