Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Life In The Slow Lane
The Attack on Pearl Harbor was still 7 months in the future when Russell Lee took this San Diego photograph in May, 1941 for the Farm Services Administration. It shows the city's defunct streetcars turned into housing for defense workers. The location is the flats of Old Town, with Presidio Park on the hill in the distance.
Millions of migrant workers, displaced by both the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, had flooded into California, with a large number seeking agricultural work in San Diego's fertile fields. Many found work in the defense industries that were building airplanes and manufacturing parachutes. Lack of housing was a large problem, as the migrant workers joined Navy and Marine families vying for homes. The government created trailer villages to house workers, boarding houses were bursting at the seams and these old streetcars were recycled, wired, plumbed and rented to eager tenants for $25 per month.