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Nation's Mayors Visit Rosie Exhibit

Officials at event riveted by Rosie
RICHMOND: A convention for civic leaders from around the nation offers chance to showcase historic exhibit


Richmond's Rosie the Riveter park was a featured centerpiece at last week's National League of Cities convention in Reno.

More than 4,000 mayors, council members and city managers from around the country attended the conference to learn about recent trends in municipal issues such as redevelopment, affordable housing and public transportation.

Hundreds of city officials asked questions about the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park exhibit, which was stationed in a prominent spot in the Reno Convention Center

"People wanted information because they have Rosies in their families or because they were interested in the unique partnership between the city and the National Park Service," said Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt, who was joined at the convention by Councilmen Nat Bates and John Marquez.

Butt worked the Rosie booth with Park Service Chief of Interpretation David Blackburn.

"I must have spoken to at least 300 people," Butt said.

Richmond workers built 747 Victory and Liberty cargo ships during the war, and the vestiges of the Kaiser Shipyards form the foundation of the park.

A grass-roots effort of community members, business organizations and elected officials developed the park idea as a way to honor the thousands of American women who took wartime jobs in the shipyards as welders, riveters and crane operators. The park also celebrates workplace diversity, innovative child care programs and the first company-based group health insurance.

The National Park Service was impressed with the concept and local enthusiasm for the project, and agreed to be the park's managing partner.

The park opened to the public in 2003, though it is still a work in progress. It consists of nine sites, including the SS Red Oak Victory ship at Terminal 3; the original Kaiser Field Hospital; the Ford Assembly Plant; and the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, a stainless-steel sculpture that evokes the hull of a ship.

Several sites, such as the Field Hospital and the Maritime Child Development Center, still must be renovated and improved for public access.

The WWII shipbuilding effort was the catalyst for a number of social innovations that many now take for granted, including a workforce that was among the first to successfully integrate women and minorities who toiled on assembly lines to build the cargo ships at an incredible rate.

Their achievements helped lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights and women's movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Contact John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or at jgeluardi@cctimes.com


The Rosie the Riveter Trust: www.rosietheriveter.org

The Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Park: www.nps.gov/rori

or, 510-262-2787

Posted on Tue, Dec. 12, 2006