Think traffic’s bad today? Check out this photo from 1941, as workers going to the Convair plant at Lindbergh Field mixed with all the traffic headed north to Los Angeles.

What’s missing from this picture? Interstate 5, which wiped out the parking lot but created the freeway that spans the length of California and separated local traffic from those headed somewhere else.

From the California Highways and Public Works magazine February 1941 issue, the story talks about the impact of defense needs on the state’s highway system as the United States geared up for World War II. Pearl Harbor was 11 months away when this story was published, but American industry was already cranking up.

Convair, in downtown San Diego adjacent to the Lindbergh Field airport, would employ as many as 43,000 — 25 percent of all the jobs in the county — as it made a variety of key aircraft and components for the war effort.

The choke points along the highways are evident in this photo and the story, preserved at, talks about the challenges road planners faced as industry suddenly sprang to life after the rough depression years.


  1. My aunt was a Rosie the Riveter at that factory during World War II. This picture must have been before the camoflage net was put over the whole factory and airport.

  2. A net over the air port and the factory? How did planes land and take off? That’s crazy.

    1. I haven’t yet located a photo, but, yes, the plant and airport were covered by a camouflage net. I understand the planes were able to enter and exit from either side… in flight.

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