Why Did America Create These Fake Neighborhoods With Actors During WWII?

February 07, 2016Feb 07, 2016

Imagine being a Hollywood director in the 1940s asked to create a fake town set complete with actors. Except rather than being located on a backdrop near Tinseltown, you're asked to build it in Seattle, Washington on top of a...Boeing B-17 production factory.


Roadtrippers.com reminds us of this fascinating piece of history that came about in the aftermath of the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks. Fearful that a large-scale attack on the West Coast of the U.S. by the Japanese was imminent, America went to great lengths to protect itself and its wartime production plants. Colonel John F. Ohmer was tasked with disguising warplane factories in Seattle as well as in Burbank and Santa Barbara, California in order to make them difficult targets for Japanese bombers.

Ohmer tapped into the Hollywood talent pool to build elaborate yet entire phony suburban neighborhoods on top of the factories, complete with houses, trees, lawns, fire hydrants, and fake rubber cars. Actors were hired to lounge outdoors, work on gardens, and occasionally move the cars around to give an appearance from the air of a working suburbia

While the Japanese never launched the feared attack on California and Washington, photos reveal how fascinating these long-gone relics of WWII were.

Watch old newsreel footage of the fake Seattle neighborhood below: