The
"Original Willow Run Village"
  Ypsilanti Michigan
 

                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


At the beginning of World War II, Henry Ford was given the task of creating the largest
B-24 bomber plant in the world to make warplanes.
 Workers came from all over to work at the plant in Willow Run, and so he created "Willow Run Village" for them to live.
Many families from the south moved here and are a part of the Ypsilanti/Willow Run community today.




Willow Run was a community of temporary houses where thousands of the people lived who built the bombers that helped win the war,
where thousands of veterans who fought to win the war came to live with their wives and children, so that they could continue war-interrupted educations,
the community often being called the "second campus" of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

(village memories)



                          photos courtesy of Library of Congress




                   (B-24(Liberator) bombers  built at Willow Run                                                                     where else could a body earn  $1.15 an hour?                                                                       do you know Rosie the Riveter?                                                             


Willow Run...the name stands for the giant plant first run by Henry Ford, where B-24 bombers were built to help gain victories in World War
l l


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                              (1956 Map of Village)
The plant was designed to have space to do all  the manufacturing of  the B-24 bomber,  the production of parts, as well as the final assembly of the plane; the assembly line was to be three-quarters of a mile long.

The plant was designed to employ from 50,000 to 100,000 workers, this number exceeding
by five to ten times the number of people living in the city of Ypsilanti at that time
 which was the city nearest to the plant, three and a half  miles  west of it.






In March, 1942,
 four months, after the Bomber
Plant began
to hire outside workers
the
Federal Public Housing Administration
opened an office in Detroit.  Mr. Sherwood Reeder was appointed as the director
and his office had the job of getting  housing built in those areas near Detroit into which the workers were coming.
 The most critical area was
Willow Run.
                                                                                                  




                         (B-24 (Liberator)Bombers)



The Big Question: Where will all the people live?


In 1942 the federal government built the nation's second freeway (now I-94) to move workers and materials to the Willow Run plant. In 1943 it spent $20 million to construct an entire community adjacent to the plant.
In a matter of days the government erected dormitories for single workers and enough small houses to accommodate 3,000 people.
One thousand trailer homes were quickly added. By the end of 1943 more than 42,000 workers toiled at Willow Run.  (more history)



                                        Road names in the village  -  (1956 street map)

We arrived [at Willow Run from Austinville, VA] on a cold and snowy day in January of 1944.
My mother, my father and I were all hired the first day, and they referred us to Willow Village
to find a place to stay. We moved right into a new two-bedroom unit that rented for about $25 a month. . . .
Our new home was comfortable and clean, but the walls were paper thin. If the neighbors cooked onions,
we could smell them. . . . The apartments were built in a row with shared walls, and they all looked alike.
Once, when we got off the bus at the wrong stop, we had trouble finding our unit.

Florida Goodson

(villagers memories)


* * *

"The Village"
provided housing for more than 15,000 people.
The village grew to include 30 dormitories,
6 community buildings, rows and rows of small houses,
commercial buildings, police and fire stations, and schools.

(history of the village)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Willow Run Village
is where every family has a yard where children can play

and there are no signs at the rental office saying 
"No Children Allowed."

kids playing in village

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 (photos)



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