Cowland To City In 75 Days

By Larry Clinton

New Historical Society Board Member Eric Torney has unearthed a collection of past issues of

The Marin Citizen, a newspaper published by and for the first residents of Marin City during WWII.  Beginning in July, 1943, the paper provides first-hand glimpses of what life was like in a brand-new city created to house shipyard workers.  The following article appeared in Vol. 1 No. 1:

 Marin City housed 6000 workers and families during WWII              Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Marin City housed 6000 workers and families during WWII              Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Probably no one has ever measured the cost of a city, because most cities are never finished, and few people can remember when they began. It is somewhat different with our town, because many of us remember "when.”

There simply was not a city here on June 8, 1942 — 75 days later there was. It happened as fast as that.

Old-time commuters sometime shake their heads as they go by on the bus and think it all must be a dream. Well, we are a dream city in some ways, but according to some, it's no dream; if this is the li'l old gray home in the west, the west can have it. But that's another story

Cows and Goats

Waldo Point a year ago had the astounding population of 17 cows, a few dozen chickens, two or three goats. There had been a few homes at Waldo Point for years, but mainly the 400 acres which are now Marin City were simply marshland and pastures.

The Marin County Housing Authority, whose chairman at that time was Ernest White, Sausalito resident and head of Marin County's Central Labor Council, got word from Washington that homes had to be built for 6000 war workers and their families. The authority took on the job. Guy A Ciocca, Executive Director of the Marin authority, was put in charge of completing it in record time.

Wartime Speed

Speed in itself is not a virtue, but the thousands of men at Marinship needed places to live —and fast This then is what the authority was able to do:

On June 16, bulldozers, carry-alls and trucks moved in to break ground. From the hills, half a million yards of earth were brought down to fill the marsh to a height of three feet. On August 18, one month later, Glenn Steel and his wife moved in, the first tenants for the war apartment

The apartment-city for 700 families was finished in 44 days. On November 14, the first 20 houses were ready. About the middle of May this year, the last of the houses was completed and occupied. That is a war-housing record.

Getting accurate facts and figures on the money spent on Marin City is a job calling for a staff of research assistants. Estimates of the cost were originally placed between seven and ten million dollars. It is estimated now that Marin City has cost more than ten million dollars. The school buildings were planned to cost $101,000. Landscaping was let at contract for $16,500 for the apartments, $16,240 for the houses. The city is not finished; money for the improvements necessary to bring facilities up to top-notch standards win run into the thousands.

We’re Big Time

The brief history of Marin City's building is one of the rapid building of houses.  It is the hope of the “Marin Citizen” that during the next year it can report the rapid building of a community, and the sense of the development of citizenship and responsibility of the members of the community to the community.

Eric is digitizing the Marin Citizen as a permanent addition to the Historical Society’s collection.