Monday–Prelude to the Sunbelt: World War II Production
How and why did the Sunbelt develop in Southern California?
After breakfast, participants will join a walking tour of the CSU Long Beach campus, highlighting the historical development of the university from its origins as a naval facility during War II through its subsequent transformation into a public college in the early Cold War era. In the early 1960s, the university hired mid-‐century modernist architect Edward Killingsworth, renowned worldwide for his minimalist International-‐style aesthetic, to provide a unifying campus design appropriate to the aerospace age. After the walk, participants will have the opportunity to view vintage yearbooks and photos of the early CSU Long Beach campus, including images of the military Quonset huts that served as the first campus buildings.
Principal faculty member William Deverell will then provide a lecture-‐discussion of “The Southern California Sunbelt in National and Regional Perspective.” This talk will offer a very broad perspective, comparing and contrasting the origins and development of the Southern California Sunbelt with similar patterns across the nation. These patterns include shifts in culture and demography—most notably, dramatic population growth (including large numbers of African Americans), and the beginnings of suburban sprawl. After Deverell’s talk, Neumann will lead a discussion of three readings. Kevin Starr’s “Swing Shift” explores the transformation of the Southern California during World War II. This reading includes a discussion of the incarceration of Japanese-‐Americans, roughly one third of whom lived in the LA area. The second article describes the state’s female war workers, including women of color, and the final reading examines the larger transformation the war brought to the region’s economy.
After lunch, participants will travel to the historic Long Beach Airport. They will tour the airport, learn about its role during World War II and the Cold War, and explore primary source materials with airport archivist Barbara Velten. The oldest municipal airport in Southern California, Long Beach Airport started to grow significantly when the city began building hangars and administrative facilities for the military in 1928. This strong military air presence made sense in light of the fact that Long Beach Harbor was home to the US Pacific Fleet—until 1940, when it was relocated to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Throughout World War II, the airfield serviced carrier-‐borne fighters and bombers. The Long Beach Army Airfield included a historic Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron whose pilots transported planes from Southern California to various theaters of war. The Douglas Aircraft facility located at Long Beach delivered its first cargo plane two weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, and produced more than 9,000 cargo planes, bombers, and attack planes. McDonnell-‐Douglas (later Boeing) continued to produce military aircraft throughout the Cold War. Southern California hired women for industrial positions in large numbers. Indeed, many of the Office of War Information’s most iconic images of women factory workers were taken at Long Beach’s Douglas plant. After departing from the airport, scholars will spend some time reviewing the interpretive materials at nearby Rosie the “Riveter park, a public park the City of Long Beach dedicated to honor these women.
Upon returning to CSU Long Beach in the late afternoon, participants will join Dr. Arthur Verge for a lecture-‐discussion on “World War II in Southern California: Development of Aerospace Culture,” which underscores the war’s contribution to the development of the broader Sunbelt pattern explored by Deverell in the morning talk.