WWII - The Big One

Four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the East Side Journal printed a headline, written with both fear and conviction, like no other it had printed before:

An attack on Hawaii meant that the mainland might soon be next, and a naval shipyard would be a target for enemy bombers. The Kirkland community realized this and prepared for the worst, as evidenced in other headlines in the same 12/11/41 issue:

The next few years were to change the face of Kirkland forever.

One of the more tragic events in East Side history can be seen in the next three headlines:

As the war progressed, the payroll at the Lake Washington Shipyards surged to a peak of about 6000 people. Before the war, Kirkland's entire population was around 2000. In just a short time, the number of people living and working on the East Side had grown by nearly a factor of five:

Work continued apace at the shipyard:

Some felt that this work wasn't quite enough. In 1943, an open letter to Admiral Fletcher (Head of Navy Shipbuilding) was published in the Journal. Publisher Robert Frank pointed out that over three years only a handful of ships had been built, and a few others repaired. Loafing and wasted effort had also been noticed, and Frank laid the blame squarely on owners and management for a poorly run yard. Negative press about wartime production was practically unheard of in 1934, especially from a smalltown newspaper. Even if the truth hurt, Frank's main concern was seeing that the shipyard would remain viable after the war:

While the war raged on, there was much to be done in Kirkland besides building ships:

Finally, good news came to Kirkland and the world:

But as the war effort wound down so did Kirkland. Most of the thousands who moved here for temporary work would soon move away. Bob Frank's fears of a nonviable shipyard would soon come to fruition. A bridge had finally been built across the lake just before the war, but it was south of Bellevue, miles from here.

For those who left home to fight in the war, they would return to a Kirkland that was much different than the one they had left. It took time to adjust, but most of them would build upon these changes, shaping Kirkland into an archetype of modern suburbia.

Post-War Growth and the Baby Boom


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1998 - Alan J Stein