Today’s rush hour traffic might be a pain, but back in 1941 this was what happened when the shift changed at Consolidated Aircraft on the north side of San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.

Considering this was also U.S. 101, the main road from San Diego to Los Angeles, and the main road from downtown San Diego to the beach communities, it’s one of the reason that voters were so enthusiastic about passing tax increases to fund freeway construction in the post-war era.

Part of the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection, it looks like the workers are going home after a hard day building planes for the American war effort that was yet to come. The fog has rolled in; probably a lousy sunset that night.

“This photo shows part of the Consolidated Aircraft factory, with workers and autos busily passing by, on February 3, 1941,” says the library’s abstract. “The 16,000 men are earning a total of $2,000,000 a month now and by midsummer there will be 30,000 workers earning $5,000,000 a month. This huge payroll, officials say, is partly responsible for the boom now sweeping San Diego.”

The factory is gone but the highway and some of the palm trees in the picture are still there. This area now has ramps to-and-from Interstate 5, which replaced U.S. 101 in the early 1960s. Consolidated Aircraft later became Convair; even later, it disappeared.


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