Bay Area wanderings: Rosie the Riveter National Park

Last weekend we decided to make a little excursion over to the East Bay for some outdoors gear shopping (not pictured). Because it seems a little silly to spend close to an hour driving just to buy a few jackets and some baselayers, we decided to invite some friends (less gas per person == less guilt about contribution to global warming) and make a day of it by seeing what else was in the area.

We discovered that Richmond (CA) is home to it’s very own National Park, Rosie the Riveter. This park is one of a subset that is devoted to documenting and preserving information about the homefront during World War II. Richmond was the home of a major shipyard and many of the “victory” ships used during the war were built there, often with some lady riveters, or “Rosies” contributing.

The park visitor center and museum is located in an old Ford manufacturing plant, right on the water:


Inside, the visitor center has a series of displays about Richmond during WWII. Some of my favorites included exhibits about the daycare centers that were set up to take care of the “eight-hour orphans” (children who’s mothers were working in the shipyard), and excerpts from interviews with women who had lived and worked in Richmond at the time. There was also a very sobering exhibit about the Port Chicago munitions explosion, in which several hundred (mostly African-American) servicemen were killed.

My absolute favorite single thing about the park though, was this awesome poster:


(please pardon my bedraggled appearance, we’d been on the go for a while at this point and it was windy out!).

Verdict? This park is definitely still in its infancy and relatively small. If you are going to be in the area though, it’s definitely worth a visit. I am a bit of a WWII history buff and I am so happy to have found out that the NPS is working to preserve our knowledge of this era.

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