"Literally," Howe reports, "It's a set. A huge set. This suburb sat over 12 metres in the air, atop a World War II airplane factory.
Fearful of Japanese bombing raids during World War II, plane manufacturer Boeing's critical Seattle factory, known as Plant 2, was hidden in spectacular theatrical style—beneath a fake suburb.Below are some photos. Read Howe's full article for a detailed history of the project and many more terrific photographs.
In 1942, Hollywood set designer and art director John Stewart Detlie was called in to work his magic on Plant 2's enormous—and very obvious—flat roof.
It cost a fortune to pull off this spectacular disappearing act. According to Boeing's Corporate Historian, Michael Lombardi, it cost $US1 million in 1942; he estimates that would be $15 million in today's money. There is no record of how long the project took to complete.
The factory was so huge that it needed a whole suburb for camouflage. At 14 hectares, the size of eight American football fields (according to Boeing), the building was largest in the world and had some of the longest single-span trusses of its time.
Just south of Seattle, this 12-square-block "suburb" was complete with houses, streets, footpaths, trees, lawns and shrubs nestled in gently rolling hills.