Saturday, June 12, 2010

McLoughlin Heights, World War Two Housing in Vancouver Washington

Below: This dramatic view of the Vancouver shipyard during World War II was taken when 12 escort aircraft carriers were in the ways in various stages of completion. At the lower left a carrier is tied up at the outfitting dock. The rectangular building just above the carrier was the cafeteria where thousands of meals were served around the clock. The north-south street in the middle of the photograph is Grand Avenue, with the Maritime Commission's 7,000 bed Columbia House dormitory complex on either side. Just above the intersection with what is now State Highway 14, on the left hand side, is the dormitory's cafeteria which later was purchased by Jantzen Knitting Mills for their local plant. (Photo from National Archives):

Below: The McLoughlin Heights development under construction on August 25, 1942:

Below: This dramatic view looking west shows McLoughlin Heights in Vancouver, Washington with its 5,500 units of temporary housing. MacArthur Boulevard is at the left, Lieser Road is just under the airplane from which the picture was taken, and Mill Plain Road is at the far right:

Below: The above aerial view in 1972:

Below: One of the first families in McLouglin Heights moved into a prefab a few hundred feet west of Park Hill Cemetery, in September of 1942:

Below: Home beautification was encouraged among war workers on McLoughlin Heights. This was a first prize winner in 1944. A victory garden contest was also held:

Below: Three sets of water towers for a total of 12 tanks were built to serve McLoughlin Heights. The tanks were made of wood staves held together with steel bands and had a total capacity of 1 1/2 million gallons:

This was the Housing Authority's central administration building (left) on the Heights. The admin building, the recreation center (back center) and medical-dental clinic (right) were all connected by covered walkways. Later this building was taken over by the Vancouver School District:

Below: This steepled building was the original McLoughlin Junior High School and was located just east of the present school. It was one of the first schools in the U.S. in which pastel colors were used to brighten halls and classrooms:

Below: The Mill Plain Community Center was located just south of the present Delaware Lane on Garrison Road. Here there were sports and recreation for all ages, including free movies, to make life more endurable for war workers and families:

Below: Many of the box houses on McLoughlin Heights during the second World War had nice views:

Below: Pictured from about the same spot as the picture above, this is how the area looked in the 1970s along Oklahoma Drive:

Below: The "Teen Can-Teen" was a swinging group on McLoughlin Heights during the second World War. Note the label on the can: "Hilltop Brand Sprouts", and the crew cuts and long skirts then in vogue:

Below: The Boulevard Shopping Center on McLoughlin Heights faced Devine Road and was a little south of the present Tower Mall. It was one of the nation's first multi-store shopping centers and won a national award for being one of the significant developments of the decade. The now world renown Pietro Belluschi was the architect:

Below: When gasoline rationing made it impractical to hold the county fair in Battle Ground, the exhibits were moved to McLoughlin Heights. Here a ready made audience of ex-farm families showed their appreciation of livestock, vegetable exhibits and home crafts. During the war, autos were no longer being manufactured. Parts were almost impossible to get and stringent rationing of gasoling and tires made driving a luxury. The average citizen was allotted 10 gallons of gas a month:

Below: The biggest crowd that ever gathered in Vancouver were these 75,000 shipyard workers, local residents and area dignitaries who watched Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt christen the Alazon Bay on April 5, 1943, the first of 50 aircraft escort carriers built here. The picture was taken from the flight deck of the "baby flattop" as she eased backward into the Columbia Ricver. "Vanship" also built ten "liberty" cargo vessels and 30 tank landing craft (LSTs), the latter for the invasion of France and the Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. The first liberty ship was named for George Vancouver, the British sea captain and explorer:

Cows and an escort carrier at the Vancouver Shipyards:

Kaiser workers at the Vancouver Shipyards attend a ship launching:

Below: The escort carrier Alazon Bay (CVE 55) built at the Vancouver Shipyards:

CVE-55 USS Alazon Bay
* Casablanca class Escort Carrier:
* Displacement: 7,800 tons
* Length: 512'3"
* Beam: 108'
* Draft: 22'4"
* Speed: 19 kts.
* Armament: 1 5"/38, 28 planes
* Complement: 860
* Reciprocating engines
* Built at Kaiser S.B. Co., Vancouver, and commissioned 8 Jul 1943
* Maritime Commission S4-S2-BB3 type

Below, One of Kaiser’s baby flattops getting ready for flight operations aboard USS Nehenta Bay (built in the Vancouver shipyards - CVE 74), underway in the Pacific, 1945.

Below: War training ad from the Vancouver Columbian, June 8, 1943:

Source on Vancouver during WW2: "Housing in War and Peace - The Story of Public Housing in Vancouver, Washington by the Housing Authority of the City of Vancouver and Vancouver during World War II, National Park Service

Casablanca class aircraft carriers were built at the Vancouver Shipyards:


  1. Many individuals, especially those who do not journey often, are not conscious that a equipped furnished suites Vancouver package is available and usually less costly than choosing a resort anyway.

  2. Was great living there from about 1946 to 1953. Streets were formed into horse shoe so each group hsd a playground with sand boxes or monkeybars to play on. The theater and park were behind the graveyard. Wonderful to see Disney movies like Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella , etc. Entrance fee was a bottle cap from a milk company. Plus the shopping center had a very wide and smooth covered sidewalk that was perfect for skating with our clip on skates. Fun memories