Wartime changes in land use around Willow Run and vicinity, Michigan 1941–45

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Map Code: Ax01197

Following America’s entry into World War II, industrial production needed to increase massively. The government set about coordinating the industrial effort and set up the Liberator Production Pool Programme, which enlisted the services of various manufacturing firms and industries to manufacture bombers. Although it was originally thought that Ford’s assembly line production of aircraft was unfeasible, plans for an enormous 3.5 million square foot factory and airfield on farmland near Ypsilanti were approved. The Willow Run farm, already owned by Henry Ford, was well connected with rail and road infrastructure, making it an ideal location for the project. Construction on the site began in summer 1941 and included a large worker housing area north of Michigan Avenue with assorted temporary accommodation which was able to house 15,000 people by 1943. The Willow Run plant was responsible for the construction of the B-24 Liberator bomber and its variants and reached a peak capacity of 650 units per month.

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