Seattle's 1936 Boeing Plant To Fall
By Lindsey M. Roberts | Online Only | Feb. 5, 2010
UPDATE, Sept. 16, 2010: Demolition of the Boeing plant began in September 2010.
The Boeing Company's Plant 2, arguably one of the most important buildings in the World War II Allied effort, will soon be demolished, the airplane manufacturer announced this month.
A demolition date has not been scheduled, according to Boeing spokeswoman Blythe Jameson.
The airplane manufacturing company first started building planes at the massive factory in 1936, producing as many as 362 warplanes in a month. The plant rolled out models such as the 307 Stratoliner, EB-47, 377 Stratocruiser, B-52 models and the first 737. Today, Boeing planes are made in Everett, Wash., at a factory that is the world's largest by volume, leaving Plant 2 virtually deserted.
"It has not been an active part of airplane production for 40 years," Jameson says. "It was really during the war effort that this facility had its largest production."
The Museum of Flight currently leases the main building, which stores three old airplanes, but its lease runs out at the end of the year. Boeing plans to preserve artifacts inside the building.
Another impetus for demolition is the massive pollution cleanup effort that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanded of Boeing in 1994.
The plant sits on the banks of the Duwamish River, which feeds directly into Elliot Bay and the Puget Sound. Its use of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals has led to significant pollution over the years. "We do have a cleanup that we are doing in the Duwamish waterway," Jameson says. "Taking down the building will aid in some of that work."
The building's most notable feature was its camouflaged roof. During World War II, Boeing covered the 35-acre rooftop with burlap houses, chicken-wire lawns, and plywood cars in order to conceal the chief bomber plant in the United States.
"You can't talk about the history of Seattle without having a chapter on Boeing," says Chris Moore, field director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. "My father-in-law just retired … he worked for Boeing for 30-some years." Most Seattleites have similar family connections to Boeing, Moore adds. "Plant 2 in particular is obviously extremely significant in the part it played in the World War II effort."
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