Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park is located on the San Francisco Bay in the industrial heart of Richmond, California. This historical area is dedicated to the hard working people at the Ford Assembly Plant on the U.S. home front during World War II. They were known as the Rosie Riveters.
When most of the men were called to serve their country, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Executive Order 8808, which became the Fair Employment Act of 1941 “…there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color or national origin.” With higher wages being offered, people from all over flocked to the factories, but the enthusiasm was not always matched by employers or at home.
President Roosevelt changed the course of American history; a huge step towards inclusion for all. The period during World War II showed the largest employment of non-white men, women and those who were blind, deaf, or had limited mobility in recorded U.S. history. Despite the Executive Order and the Act, prejudices were not entirely vanquished; not only did this new workforce suffer blatant discrimination, but when the war ended, they were the first to be laid off. These men and women are patriots of inclusion and equality in the workforce; they proved their capability and value, which has benefited our society today, and they are honored here at this National Historic Park.
The Education Center
Using sounds and interactive exhibits mixed with a variety of multimedia visuals, this grade-A museum is a thorough look at the triumphs and controversies surrounding this period and how this nation came together believing in serving a greater purpose. The museum’s three floors are barrier-free and can all be accessed using an elevator; the main door opens automatically with a push of a button.
The museum is a self-guided tour, so it is recommended to pick up the suggested map route and other tour items at the information desk as you enter; different languages, braille, and an audio descriptive tour are available. Next to the merchandise is a section of the desk that has been lowered for wheelchair access. An overall spacious design promotes navigational flow for all visitors. Table exhibits have open space for wheelchairs to roll-up and interactive panels have been lowered for more accessibility. Touch screens, tactile displays and video subtitles allow visitors to learn more in different visual ways.
When touring around, it is recommended that you begin or end at the theater. When exploring the rest of the museum, start by looping around the information desk, which first explores the foundation of this historical area and the questions about equality that stormed communities and homes through propaganda. Explore all the development that was done to this area with your fingertips in a tactile display. The top floor is a replication and simulation of parts to a typical day in lives of these factory workers at the Kaiser Shipyard. One screen is in the shape of a welding mask and when visitors place their head in it, they can see a video of sparks flying as if welding something. On this floor, visitors will also explore how these workers built the S S Red Oak Victory in another hands-on, tactile model with informational push-buttons to describe key elements.
The bottom floor has a theater with films about the political, industrial and social movements surrounding the Kaiser Shipyard and Ford Assembly Plant during WWII. One particular video is played repeatedly at certain times throughout the day, but please inquire with the film curator about several videos made available to the public. The small theater has open wheelchair accessible seating at the top row as well as removable seats in the first; it is estimated that 4-6 wheelchairs could sit in this theater at once. An overflow theater is also on this floor and has all removable seats if a group of wheelchair visitors attend together.
Parking: 2 spots have been designated for handicapped access with the possible option for van access. Designated handicapped parking spots are also available at the restaurant next door as well as a few of the other surrounding businesses. Several designated accessible parking spots are available off Harbour Way; on the other side of the Ford Assembly Plant by the Sheridan Observation Point. Barrier-free pathways get you to the museum.
Public Transportation: At the end of Harbour Way is a bus stop for AC Transit, bus #74. From the BART station, it’s about a fifteen-minute bus ride. Check out 511.org to plan a route.
Bathrooms and Water: A modified drinking fountain is located on the bottom floor of the Education Center along with bathrooms for men and women. In each bathroom, the handicapped stall includes grab-bars and a lowered hook for personal items as well as a roll-up sink with a lowered soap dispenser and towel dispenser located right inside the stall.
Rosie the Riveter Memorial, Nearby Parks and the Bay Trail
A couple of miles from the Education Center at Marina Bay Park is the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, created by Cheryl Baton and Susan Schwartzenberg in the early 1990s. The memorial sculpture mimics the framework of a steel ship the workers would build at the Ford Assembly Plant with black-and-white photos of this World War II era; each side of the art piece has an architecturally different face. Quotes of the time are inscribed into the ground, breathing life into the memorial. The pathway extends and passes through another metal framework before reaching the edge of the bay at an overlook platform with more messages from the past.
Trails: A portion of the Bay Trail here is called the Richmond Marina Bay Trail, which travels through Marina Bay Park and continues along the bay to Barbara & Jay Vicente Park, Shimada Peace Park, Stege Marsh, and beyond. Going the other direction from the memorial for approximately 1-mile will take you to the Education Center. The trail is at sea level with a couple of gentle inclines, and although it’s firm and hard, a few sections around the Harbor Master are bumpy.
Beach Access: On both sides of the memorial are paved ramps that lead to the beach; please bring your own beach wheelchair. These paved ramps are likely also used as boat launches when the tide is in.
Picnic Tables: Modified picnic tables are located off the Bay Trail just past the Education Center at Lucretia Edwards Park and at Marina Bay Park. Near the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, sites #1, #2 and #8 have picnic areas with modifications.
Parking: A couple of parking spots at each park are handicapped designated and may accommodate many vans. A barrier-free route with a ramp leads from the parking lot to the sidewalk and park.
Bathrooms: A public bathroom for both men and women is located right off the parking lot at Marina Bay Park. More bathrooms are located at the Lucretia Edwards Park and the Barbara & Jay Vincent Park.
SS Red Oak Victory & Shipyard
The SS Red Oak Victory is the last remaining ship built during World War II at the Ford Assembly Factory by the Rosie Riveters. Visitors can often see a glimpse of this vessel from the Sheridan Observation Point at the Education Center, or they are welcome to navigate over to it for an up-close look.
The vessel is about 3 miles from the Education Center. From the parking lot, a short paved ramp directs visitors to the left and the front of the vessel, where there is a wide viewing platform and one bench. Visitors can also enter through the gates in the middle for another up-close look, though wheelchairs cannot go further then here. Those who are able to walk up a flight of stairs can arrange for a tour of the inside, but no accessibility modifications are possible.
Trails: The Kaiser Shipyard 3 Trail is a one-way trail that begins at the Shipyard 3 Cafeteria on Canal Blvd. and ends at the SS Red Oak Victory on Point Poterro (about 2 miles). The entire trail is paved, except for the Interpretive Overlook along the way. A couple of gentle inclines appear along the San Francisco Bay. Before reaching the SS Red Oak Victory, an accessible overlook gives visitors a chance to relax off the trail with views of the shipyard and the San Francisco Bay. The Kaiser Shipyard 3 Trail is off a section of the Bay Trail called the Ferry Point Loop, which is located within the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, and one of the more scenic areas is the loop around the lagoon at the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline near the Golden State Railroad Museum.
Parking: At the SS Red Oak Victory, there are 7 parking spaces designated for handicap access; most of them can be van accessible. To access the Kaiser Shipyard 3 Trail, 4 designated accessible parking spots are located at the Cafeteria or use the ones at the SS Red Oak Victory. When exploring the Ferry Point Loop Trail, look for parking along Dornan Drive.
Additional Buildings and Sites: The sites described above are the main attractions at this park. The only other building that visitors can enter is the Maritime Child Development Center located in the Richmond neighborhood, and a few other sites and buildings can be seen nearby from the outside only: Atchison Village, Nystrom Village, Kasier Field Hospital, Ruth C. Powers Child Development Center, and the Richmond Fire Station 67.