a the worlds largest factory, like Willow Run, takes many steps.
Planning how the most efficient production line will work would
be the first step. This part of the Willow Run design was
Charles E. Sorensen. Charles Sorensen was a young
Henry Ford who was able to convert Ford's radical new mass
production ideas onto a usable blueprint. Charles Sorensen
built a number of production lines before he was tasked with the
largest engineering production line in the worlds history, the
Willow Run B-24 Liberator Bomber Factory.
the plans for a production line were complete, it took a
large architectural company to design the building around
this production line. This job was done by Albert
Kahn, a long time Architect who has done contract work for
Henry Ford on previous projects. It wasn't just
building the worlds largest structure that
Albert Kahn had to do, he had to design the entire
Willow Run Airport, the sewage system, the water
drainage system, the schools, administration buildings,
parking lots, housing developments and road systems so all
of the 40,000 plus workers could get to work.
The picture of the first double overpass in the United
States (above) is one of the examples of what was necessary
to move the traffic in and out of the 15,000 car parking
lot. The double overpass was built by the Michigan
Highway Department and was dedicated on September 12th,
1942, by Donald S. Patterson.
Other considerations in building the
Liberator Factory was moving all of the people off of
the land, which meant bulldozing and burning almost every
home on the new Willow Run Airport property. Some
people, like Ben Kidders father were lucky enough to move
their homes to new locations, but most people were not.
As the webmaster reading this book, I was wondering
about this huge destruction and all of the fires that
happened a couple of years before the United States entered
the war. In my mind, it must have looked like a war
zone in itself with huge fires and columns of smoke
emanating from the area.
While the bulldozers were leveling the airport land to
government specifications, they were desecrating the graves
and bodies of the
Potawatomi Indians buried on that land. The
Potawatomi Trail went right through the heart of what became
the Willow Run Airport and Factory. Albert Khan
described the Willow Run Factory as the most enormous room
in the history of mankind.
This is the Plan View of the Willow Run Airport and B-24
Some families had to endure hot summers and freezing cold winters in self
built tar paper shacks before the construction of the Willow Run Factory and
Willow Run Airport.
In the initial phases of the construction of the Willow Run
B-24 Liberator Factory, people had to live in Tent Cities which were some of the
worst living conditions in the United States. This was because of the huge
number of people required to build the factory, airport, housing and schools.
During heavy rains, the toilets over flow in Willow Run
creating the risk of Typhoid and other disease outbreaks
Run, the Book.
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