Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wilmington, NC, in 1942-- Part 2: Liberty Ships and Housing

From the Jan. 10, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

DECEMBER 6, 1941:

The NC Shipbuilding Company launched its first Liberty Ship, the Zebulon B. Vance, named after NC's Civil War governor. Notice the date, the day before Pearl Harbor. The war had a huge impact on Wilmington and one of the reasons the city is seeking the name as National World War II City.

In 1935, Wilmington's population was 35,000. By 1943, this shipyard, home of today's NC State Port, alone had 20,000 workers.

Today's (Dec. 6, 1941) newspaper headlines "Wilmington's Answer to Hitler's Challenge" and "Ships, More Ships, Spell Nazi Doom."

All these workers were going to need places to live, which were in very short supply despite the Wilmington Housing Authority having already built Greenfield Terrace for white workers and Hillcrest for black workers. Lake Place, for whites, was nearing completion. There were also 3 other projects underway to house 900 more workers and their families.

Wilmington Preparing for War. --GreGen

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