Rosie the Riverter Memorial Park
Designed by visual artist Susan Schwartzenberg and landscape architect/environmental sculptor Cheryl Barton, the Rosie the Riveter Memorial: Honoring American Women's Labor During WWII is the first in the nation to honor and interpret this important chapter of American history.
An estimated 18 million women worked in WWII defense industries and support services including steel mills, foundries, lumber mills, aircraft factories, offices, hospitals and daycare centers.
Over 200 people including over 200 "Rosies" attended the dedication ceremony on October 14, 2000. Developed for an existing waterfront park, Schwartzenberg and Barton's design recalls the history of shipbuilding at Richmond's Kaiser Shipyards, the largest and most productive of the war.
Sited at the former Kaiser Shipyard No. 2, the memorial evokes the act of constructing the ships with mass-assembly techniques adopted by Kaiser to make ships in Richmond more quickly, and the process of reconstructing memories of women who worked on the home front.
Selected through a 1998 competition open to West Coast artists, the team describes their design as a "construction metaphor exploring the symbolic connection between building ships and the reconstructive processes of human memory."
The principal component is a walkway, the length of a ship's keel, which slopes toward the San Francisco Bay and aligns with the Golden Gate Bridge.
The path is inscribed with a timeline about the home front and quotes from women workers sandblasted into white granite. Sculptural elements of stainless steel encountered on the walkway are drawn from ship's blueprints and suggest the unfinished forms of hull, stack and stern under construction.
Two gardens - one of rockrose and one of dune grass - occupy the location of the ship's fore and aft hatches.
Porcelain enamel panels on the hull and stack reproduce memorabilia and letters gathered from former shipyard workers during the course of the Memorial project, along with photographs of women at work in jobs across the nation.
The panels, quotes and timeline illustrate the complex opportunities, challenges and hardships faced by women during the war years, including gender discrimination, hazardous working conditions, food rationing, and shortages of housing and childcare.
The Memorial was commissioned by the City of Richmond and the City of Richmond's Redevelopment Agency