The Boeing Airplane Co. is planning to tear down a significant piece of aviation history. The Plant 2 building on East Marginal Way South in Seattle is slated for demolition soon. This is the factory that employed 30,000 Seattle people at the peak of World War II, turning out B-17 Flying Fortresses at the rate of several a day. Rosie the Riveter worked there. The initial B-29 Super Fortresses were built there. The B-47 ran through there. The B-52 Stratofortress was designed and initially constructed there. This is a piece of Americana, a segment of which should be preserved for future generations.
The Boeing Plant 1 installation on the Duwamish River was demolished, but not before the famous Red Barn (the first Boeing building) was moved to its present location where it houses displays at the Museum of Flight. Following this precedent, two bays of the Plant 2 complex should be saved for posterity. These would be the two bays immediately south of the administrative office, where the final assembly was done on the above listed airplanes before they were rolled across East Marginal Way South to be flown away on Boeing Field. The Museum of Flight again enters the picture as this is where a B-29 and a B-17 are being restored and maintained by volunteers from the Museum of Flight. Thus the dual purpose of historical preservation and practical use would be met.
The economic need to eliminate a building which is no longer needed is understood, but saving a small part of that structure would seem to be a small burden, given its significance and usefulness toward the further preservation of airplane history.
Corporate indifference to aviation history is a threat to all of us who fly or support aviation, from homebuilt aircraft to commercial operations. Do we want to drive down East Marginal Way to show our children and grandchildren a plaque saying “This is where Plant 2 once stood…” or do we want to be able to show them a piece of history? A picture speaks a thousand words, but a real place is worth more than words – it is an experience capturing the imagination.
Please help by alerting others in the aviation world of this impending loss.
B29 Restoration Volunteer