The Death of an American Icon

Aerospace giant Boeing is planning to shut down a historic manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, a vestige of a golden era in aviation when manufacturing jobs fueled the state's middle class

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On Sept. 18, Boeing announced that it plans to shutter the massive Long Beach, Calif. plant where it builds the C-17, the military’s workhorse cargo plane. The aerospace giant will be eliminating thousands of jobs as a result; the assembly line will stop for good in 2015. The 1.1-million-square-foot facility is a vestige of a golden era in aviation, when manufacturing jobs fueled California’s middle class by the tens of thousands. Built by Douglas Aircraft Co., the Long Beach plant thrived during World War II, employing female laborers. After the war, the assembly line churned out some of the world’s most popular airliners, including the DC-8 and MD-80.

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