Spotlight: Anderson Plant Lighted the Way For GIs
2/13/2012 — For nearly 80 years, the General Motors Guide Lamp Division in Anderson, Indiana, was a bustling metropolis, employing more than 6,000 at its peacetime peak. Guide was responsible for the design of the interior and exterior lights for GM vehicles, and the employees were proud to be master builders of lamps. Then, the Army came knocking at the door.
For nearly 80 years, the General Motors Guide Lamp Division in Anderson, Indiana was a bustling metropolis, employing more than 6,000 at its peacetime peak. The 155-acre manufacturing site -- located on what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard – was home to multiple plants, the largest at 3 million square feet.
(RACER is selling two of the plant properties. Click here for details on the Delphi I Plant land, and click here for details on the Venture 2000 Industrial Park.)
Guide was responsible for the design of the interior and exterior lights for GM vehicles, and the employees were proud to be master builders of lamps.
Early in 1940, two officers from the Cincinnati Ordnance visited the site and invited the Guide Lamp Division to become part of the “arsenal of democracy” in support of the American effort of what would become World War II.
The employees put their lighting expertise to work. They designed blackout lamps for front and rear installation on a wide range of military vehicles. They designed and built tank dome lamps, special spotlights, signal lights, and lamps that could function when fully immersed in water. The Guide employees knew the science of lamp design and construction, and the military needed lamps that would guide convoys at night -- without shedding a misdirected beam that could be seen by the enemy.
“There is no doubt that lamps have played nothing less than a major role in the war,” said a booklet that GM published about Guide’s wartime effort.
By June 1, 1944 – when the booklet was prepared – the plant had shipped approximately 6.5 million articles of lighting equipment for the war effort: Headlamps; tail-lamps; dome-lamps; blackout lamps; and signal lamps.
But the plant’s wartime focus moved well beyond lamps. By that same date, they were producing approximately 1,000 complete M-3 submachine guns every 24 hours. In addition, they had shipped:
- approximately 2.6 million Simsonite reflector units;
- enough spinner-noses and adaptors to outfit 18,000 P-39 Airacobra fighting planes;
- about 900,000 water-jacket sleeves for Allison aircraft engines;
- more than 23 million cartridge cases in five different sizes, and
- about 1.1 million barrels for Browning machine guns: the Guide Lamp plant was believed to be the biggest producer of barrels for the Browning heavy gun.
The workers had to re-tool their manufacturing operations to produce these new items, revamping the layout and changing the machines. The workforce grew from the pre-war level of 2,200 to more than 5,000. Women joined the assembly lines, eventually reaching one-third of the total workforce. There was a renewed focus on safety: “Many of our people were new to any sort of machinery,” the booklet states, “and few of us had any experience with equipment of such tremendous power as that required for war.”
The entire Guide Lamp workforce in Anderson participated in a payroll deduction program, investing more than $3 million in war bonds by mid-1944. Many saved their money by joining “share-the-ride” clubs and taking public transportation. Twice, the Guide workers were recognized with a coveted home-front citation: The Army-Navy “E” pennant for excellence in production of war equipment.
After the war, Guide designed and manufactured all exterior and interior lighting for GM cars and trucks. Because the lamp trimming and bezzels were chrome, Guide became the largest chrome platting operation in the world, reaching its peak employment in the 1970s. Its name changed over time, to Fisher Guide, Delphi Interior Lighting, and back to Guide.
The manufacturing complex was fully demolished by 2009. Now known as two sites -- the Delphi I Plant and Venture 2000 Industrial Park – they await the next chapter in their history.
Note: Quotes, historical information and imagery were taken from “Guide’s Page in the History of American Industry at War,” which was published in 1944 by The General Motors Guide Lamp Division.
Spotlight: From Red Brick Factory Walls to Golf Course Green
1/16/2012 — The 88-acre Hyatt Clark Industries site manufactured hard rubber products and other equipment for cars, trucks and trains from 1938 to 1987. Today, although still owned by RACER Trust, the site has moved on from its manufacturing past and is enjoying a second life as Hyatt Hills Golf Complex, a public golf facility.
If you were to visit the Hyatt Clark site of the RACER Trust, you’d be likely to hear the thwack of a golf ball, the laughter of friends sharing a plate of nachos, and the shouts of children enjoying a birthday party.
The 88-acre Hyatt Clark Industries site manufactured hard rubber products and other equipment for cars, trucks and trains from 1938 to 1987. Today, although still owned by the RACER Trust, the site has moved on from its manufacturing past and is enjoying a second life as Hyatt Hills Golf Complex, a public golf facility.
The RACER Trust is selling the golf course. You can see details on the property here.
The complex consists of a scenic regulation par-36 nine-hole golf course, a full-service clubhouse with a pro shop and Mexican restaurant, a driving range, a practice bunker, practice chipping and putting greens, and an eighteen-hole miniature golf course. The facility offers golf instruction, children’s birthday partiesand children’s summer camps.
The complex is at 1300 Raritan Road in two New Jersey Townships -- Clark and Cranford – in Northeastern New Jersey. The golf complex is leased from the RACER Trust and operated by a commission formed of representatives of the two Townships.
The former manufacturing plant was decommissioned in 1991. Significant environmental cleanup took place at the site throughout the 1990s, and a free-product recovery system remains in operation.
The New Jersey State Golf Association/ USGA gives Hyatt Hills a course rating of 69.5 and a slope rating of 130. This makes Hyatt Hills one of the most challenging nine-hole golf courses in the New Jersey. Hyatt Hills was also named as one of the best conditioned nine-hole golf courses by the Newark Star Ledger, and in 2007 it was awarded the Environmental Stewardship Award from the New Jersey Turfgrass Association.
More information on the golf complex can be found at http://www.hyatthills.com/
Spotlight: Syracuse Industrial Powerpark - From Parts To Multi-Manufacturing
12/8/2011 — On any given workday, 500 people travel to the former GM plant in Syracuse to start their day. But they’re not making automotive parts. Instead, these individuals are employed by 15 businesses now leasing space in the 827,000-square-foot plant, now repurposed into the Salina Industrial Powerpark.
On any given workday, 500 people travel to the former GM plant in Syracuse to start their day. But they’re not making automotive parts. Instead, these individuals are employed by 15 businesses now leasing space in the 827,000-square-foot plant, now repurposed into the Salina Industrial Powerpark.
The RACER Trust is selling the Industrial Park. For details about the property, click here.
“The mission of the RACER Trust, which owns the Salina Industrial Powerpark, is to revitalize America’s auto communities by bringing new jobs and economic opportunity,” said Elliott P. Laws, the court-appointed trustee of the RACER Trust. “This is the model we are using — the transformation of a shuttered automotive manufacturing plant into a hub of economic activity and jobs — at all former GM plants and properties across the country.”
The Salina property was a natural for redevelopment. Located near major thoroughfares and a major rail line, one can drive from the Salina Industrial Powerpark to Boston, New York, Toronto, Philadelphia or Montreal in less than five hours. The Syracuse Hancock International Airport is just 2.5 miles away. You can see property information on the Salina Industrial Powerpark here.
When opening the new industrial park in 2000, former Gov. George Pataki said, “For the first time in a decade, Central New York’s economy is not only keeping pace, but growing at a faster rate, than the average in the rest of the country. Salina Industrial Powerpark is a sign of the new economic times in Upstate New York.”
Current occupants of the building include: Bitzer Scroll Inc., a manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration compressors; Carpenter Industries, Inc., which performs abrasive blasting, welding and fabrications; Syracuse Glass Company, which manufactures architectural and tempered glass building products; and, Roth Global Plastics, a plastics blow molding manufacturing facility.
General Motors began operations at the site in 1952. The site was used for the manufacture of metal automotive components and plastic auto parts. GM closed the plant in 1993.
Approximately 180,000 square feet of space is still available. Those interested in leasing space can contact Pyramid Brokerage in DeWitt. Potential purchasers are encouraged to contact Bruce Rasher, RACER’s redevelopment manager.
Spotlight: Ewing Plant Built Avenger Bombers
10/12/2011 — The Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors built its first Avenger Bomber on the Delphi Trenton Industrial Land, an 80-acre parcel on Parkway Avenue in Ewing Township in central New Jersey.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, manufacturing plants across America halted normal production, their facilities devoted full-time to the war effort. Ewing Township, NJ was an integral part of that effort, becoming a hub of round-the-clock manufacturing in support of the U.S. Department of the Navy.
And the support of Ewing was historic. The Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors built its first Avenger Bomber on the Delphi Trenton Industrial Land, an 80-acre parcel on Parkway Avenue in Ewing Township in central New Jersey.
You can see details about the Delphi Trenton property here.
The plant at Ewing was built in 1937 and produced automobile window regulators under management of the former Temstedt Division of General Motors. But normal production halted on Dec. 12, 1941. A workforce of 14,000 toiled around the clock to fabricate and assemble the Grumman Avenger, ultimately producing 7,546 airplanes for the Navy. Testing of the planes took place at a newly created airfield across Parkway Avenue – a site that is now the Trenton/Mercer airport.
Avenger Bombers entered U.S. military service in 1942 during the Battle of the Midway. They gained a reputation as outstanding torpedo bombers throughout World War II, contributing significantly to the South Pacific cause.
Among the most famous Avenger aviators: George H.W. Bush and Paul Newman.
Line drawing by architect Paul Bradley © NAS Fort Lauderdale Museum.
Spotlight: Rosie the Riveter Worked at Willow Run
9/13/2011 — The real World War II icon "Rosie the Riveter" worked at Willow Run, building B-24 "Liberator" bombers at the famous facility in the 1940s. Read her story here
The real World War II icon "Rosie the Riveter" worked at Willow Run, building B-24 "Liberator" bombers at the famous facility in the 1940s.
See details on the Willow Run Powertrain Plant, 2932 Ecorse Road, Ypsilanti MI
Rose Will Monroe worked as a riveter in the storied facility when she was asked to participate in promotional films about the war effort. Though other women were said to have been the inspiration for the character, Rose Will Monroe epitomized the "Rosie the Riveter" image and, through advertising and newsreels, came to be widely recognized as a an endearing and enduring image of American patriotism.
Built by Henry Ford to mimic the production rates of his auto manufacturing assembly lines, Willow Run produced one bomber every 55 minutes - far exceeding the average production rate of one bomber per day at other facilities.
The factory where Rosie worked is directly adjacent to the Willow Run airport, and B-24s were rolled out off the assembly line right onto the runways for their first test flight. A hangar at the production facility was converted to a barracks for military crews brought in to fly out the new bombers as soon as they were ready.
During the Korean War, the site was again used in the war effort, with Kaiser-Fraser producing C-119 and C-123 military cargo planes. GM took over the facility from Kaiser-Fraser in 1953 and began producing automatic transmissions at the site, after a fire at GM's "Hydra-Matic" plant in Livonia, Mich., required the company to move those operations.
To view a historic video of production of the B-24 at Willow Run, click here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYAEBIywGtg
To read more on the history of the Willow Run facility, visit: http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=73&category=locations