The 5 million square-feet Willow Run Bomber Plant has produced many things: 9,000 B-24 Liberator bomber planes, thousands of GM cars, and one powerful American symbol: Rosie the Riveter.
The plant, located in the Ypsilanti Township just west of Detroit, is set to be demolished over the next two or three years. But a group of local history-lovers isn't willing to let go of the space that easily.
The grassroots "Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant" campaign has managed to raised $4.5 million, but would need an additional $3.5 million in order to save the factory from demolition. Their original deadline was going to be this Thursday, but a flood of media attention and donor support has helped extend the deadline to October 1. If saved, the factory will be converted into the new home for the Yankee Air Museum.
When most of the country's men shipped off to fight in World War II, countless American women left their place in the home for new roles in the workforce. 40,000 assembly line workers, including many women, worked in the Willow Run Bomber Plant alone. Rose Will Monroe (a.k.a. Rosie the Riveter) was employed there when Hollywood producers cast her in the role of a "riveter" for a government film on the war effort at home. Over the years, her image was transformed from a symbol of war propaganda to a symbol of female empowerment.
The Willow Run Plant went on to manufacture cars for General Motors until 2010, after the company declared bankruptcy in 2009 and closed the factory.