Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Quick Quiz on California-appropriate Buildings

One of the common themes I've discussed here is the idea that to have a good California-style model railroad, I really need to know what sort of buildings ought to be in a small California town in the 1930's. So far, I'm doing ok at this by looking at old photos of California towns from the 1930's, and extrapolating construction style, sign lettering and the like. I'm still trying to figure out what sort of a building Larson Ladder might have had at its world headquarters on Moorpark Ave.

But practice makes perfect, so let's head over to the website describing the historic structures at Pier 70, San Francisco's shipbuilding center. There are plans to turn part of the site into offices by reusing some of the historic buildings. The catalog of buildings (some from World War II, some from the plant's original occupants of Bethlehem Steel and Union Iron Works) makes for a nice survey of industrial buildings in California over the last century. Click on some of the links for slideshows of the machine shop and piers to get a look at the shipyard when it was working. The machine shop slideshow highlights the great internal detail in building #113 - wooden trusses, huge tools, and a cavernous interior.

And if you're a California modeler, it's also a great source of information for a pop quiz. Look at each building in turn, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this match my expectations of a California building?
  • Do I have similar buildings on my layout?
  • Which manufacturers make kits that would be a starting point for a kit like this?

I'll give you one answer for free: warehouse #6, the place for marshaling the fabricated pieces going into a newly-constructed ship, looks awfully like a 1960's era Suydam corrugated iron building. It's awfully big compared to my layout, but I keep trying to decide whether the Santa Clara Valley Mill and Lumber (Tilden Lumber) yard near Auzerais St. ought to be wood or steel.

Notice anything cool about the Pier 70 buildings that's applicable to a model railroad?

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