Download Michael Van Valkenburgh/Allegheny Riverfront Park: Source Books in Landscape Architecture PDF

TitleMichael Van Valkenburgh/Allegheny Riverfront Park: Source Books in Landscape Architecture
PublisherPrinceton Architectural Press
ISBN 139781568985046
File Size18.0 MB
Total Pages183
Table of Contents
1 front-matter.pdf
2 fulltext.pdf
3 fulltext.pdf
4 fulltext.pdf
5 fulltext.pdf
6 fulltext.pdf
7 fulltext.pdf
8 back-matter.pdf
Document Text Contents
Page 91

Tom Vanderbilt72

acutely felt the effects of the housing short-
age when they returned and, under a federal
Public Housing Authority program, Quonset
settlements were established in any number
of communities, from New York City’s
Manhattan Beach to Los Angeles’ Rodger
Young Village. In July 1946, a newspaper
account noted that when 811 surplus
Quonset huts were to go on sale at Port
Hueneme; more than a thousand veterans
camped out, some for three days, in order to
buy “their little Quonsets [for $295] and
sweat out the housing squeeze for a year
or two.”21

In Los Angeles, where nearly 200,000
wartime industrial workers had lost their jobs
by 1945, and nearly 100,000 returning veter-
ans loomed on the horizon, the city housing
authority, in 1946, created the Rodger
Young22 Village, described as “the largest
and first temporary veterans’ housing project
in the nation.”23 On some 112 acres of former
National Guard airstrip land in Griffith Park,
the village, consisting of 750 corrugated

Quonsets, was erected in April 1946, just
sixty days after the funds were approved.24

With each containing two units, nearly 1,500
veterans’ families—some 5,000 people—were
housed in what virtually became an
overnight community with a medical center,
chapel, library, even a malt shop. As Dana
Cuff writes in The Provisional City, although
the layout of this Quonset village was over-
seen by architects, there was not necessarily
a bold architectural ambition at stake in
places like the Rodger Young Village:

From an architectural perspective,

the pressure to house essential war

workers bred an expedience in

housing production that virtually

eliminated traditional aesthetic

preference. Priorities had shifted,

and the aesthetic symbols of effi-

ciency, technological advance,

material resourcefulness, and

alacrity counted for more than tra-

ditional associations of home. Not

LEFT: “Freedom Train” at

Rodger Young Village, 1945;

RIGHT: Row of Quonset

homes at Rodger Young

Village, 1945

Page 92

that residents liked the temporary

trailers they might be lucky enough

to snag, but, like victory gardens,

they were a sign of the patriotism

and sacrifice of a nation. Mostly,

they were a roof over one’s head.25

And no one knew better the value of
a roof, even the arched roof of a Quonset,
than a veteran. As one wartime account
from a Navy patrol bomber in the Aleutians
described it in a Kimberly-Clark ad: “When
we first arrived we slept in tents. With the
temperature around 10 degrees below, and
the wind about 130 knots, it was pretty
tough. Finally we got some Quonset huts
and it was like moving into a mansion.
They were snug and warm.” With the same
spirit of frontier self-sufficiency they had
employed in their far-flung Quonset homes,
veterans remobilized in places like Rodger
Young Village, drawing their Quonsets
around the campfire of a temporary commu-
nity. As one magazine account described the

The Quonset huts out on the rim of

the city in Griffith Park are no man-

sions. They are humble dwellings,

rows upon rows of them, each one

just like the next. But the families

who live in them have made them

their homes, built trellises for

plants, grown a few flowers,

shrubs, vines. The homes are small,

especially if there are six children

to be housed with their parents in

the two-bedroom homes, but to

most of the families they are a

haven and a shelter.26

Sometimes Quonset huts were called
in for housing shortages of a different sort.
Always the hut of crisis, Quonset huts were
used to house those made homeless by natu-
ral and other disasters, such as the Texas
City fire in 1947. The fire triggered the
Grandcamp explosion, the worst industrial
disaster in the U.S. resulting in, until 2001,
the largest number of industrial-accident-
related casualties in American history.
One-third of Monsanto’s (the site of the
Grandcamp disaster) homes were con-
demned, leaving 2,000 persons homeless and
exacerbating the already-serious postwar
housing shortages.27 Another similar situa-
tion took place in the small Ohio town of
Scio, which was also destroyed by fire in
1947, taking out the town’s lone industry, a
pottery plant, and leaving 800 of its 1,200
people jobless. But a Quonset hut, the one
building in the town that had not burned
down, was what convinced one local resi-
dent that Quonsets were what should be
used to rebuild the town. Three hundred
workers toiled through a rainy night to rig up
emergency wiring so that reconstruction of
the town could go forward on a 24-hour
basis. Quonset huts were rushed to Scio by
special trains, and some were even flown in
by air. Men and women formed construction
crews to erect the Quonset huts and the
town was saved. Its main plant was rebuilt
and residents, again, had shelter.28

In the architectural press, the Quonset
hut was seized upon not only as an expedient

After the War73

Page 182


Brian Carter is dean and professor of archi-

tecture at The State University of New York at

Buffalo. A graduate of the Nottingham School of

Architecture and the University of Toronto, he

has worked as an architect in practice, most

recently with Arup Associates in London. From

1994–2001 he was chair of the architecture

program at the University of Michigan. His work

has been published in numerous international

journals including The Architectural Review,

Architectural Design, Casbella, and Detail, and

he is the author of several books, including

Patkau Architects: Selected Projects 1983�1993

(Tuns Press, 1994) and Johnson Wax

Administration Building and Research Tower

(Architecture in Detail) (Phaidon Press, 1998). He

has also curated a series of exhibitions on the

work of Eero Saarinen, Peter Rice, Charles and

Ray Eames, and Albert Kahn.

Chris Chiei is the artistic director for the

Alaska Design Forum, a nonprofit multidiscipli-

nary arts organization serving the Alaskan com-

munities of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau,

and is a practicing architect in Anchorage.

Chiei, born in New York and raised in New

Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Architecture from

the Pennsylvania State University and served for

two years as a member of Jersey Devil Design

Build Group prior to moving to Alaska in 1995.

He is the project director and lead researcher for

the Quonset and its accompanying exhibition

and has contributed more than eight years of

research to the project. He is a frequent lecturer

on the subject.

Julie Decker, Ph.D., has authored three publi-

cations: Icebreakers: Alaska�s Most Innovative

Artists (University of Washington Press, 1999),

Found & Assembled in Alaska (Todd

Communication, 2001), and John Hoover: Art

and Life (University of Washington Press, 2002).

She has curated numerous exhibitions on

contemporary art as owner of the Decker/Morris

Gallery and the Center for Contemporary Visual

Art of Alaska, as the director of the International

Gallery of Contemporary Art, and as a guest

curator of the Anchorage Museum of History

and Art. Decker teaches courses in art history

and writing for the University of Alaska and at

Golden Gate University, in San Francisco. She is

also a regular contributor to the Anchorage Press

and has written for New York Newsday and

American Indian Art.

Stephen Haycox is an American cultural his-

torian at the University of Alaska, Anchorage

where he teaches Alaska history, history of the

American West, and American environmental

history, specializing in the relationship of Alaska

to the history of the American West. He holds

graduate degrees from the University of Oregon

and has published widely on Alaska Native

history. His two most recent books are Frigid

Embrace: Politics, Economics, and Environment

in Alaska (Oregon State University, 2002), and

Alaska: An American Colony (University of

Washington Press, 2002). He is the recipient of

the Alaska Governor’s Humanities Award (2003)

and the University of Alaska Edith R. Bullock

Prize for Excellence (2002); he was named

Alaskan Historian of the Year by the Alaska

Historical Society in 2003.

Tom Vanderbilt is a writer whose work has

appeared in many publications, including The

New York Times Magazine, Wired, The London

Review of Books, NEST, The Baffler, and The

Nation. He is also the author of The Sneaker

Book: An Anatomy of an Industry and An Icon

(New Press, 1998) and Survival City: Adventures

Among the Ruins of Atomic America (Princeton

Architectural Press, 2002).



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