City of Downey California is the Birthplace of the Apollo Space Program

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  2. March 18, 2013 10:27 pm

City of Downey California is the Birthplace of the Apollo Space Program

How Downey Transformed From Wide Open Spaces To Space Flight

Downey, California is a vibrant suburb of Los Angeles county that has enjoyed a relatively stable economy mainly through its unique connection with the early space flight. Other parts of the city’s history include the cultivation of varied agricultural crops and participation in the defense industry during World War II. While Downey is arguably best known as the birth place of the Apollo space program, it is also known for some other “great” culinary achievements. The community preserved the oldest surviving McDonald’s restaurant built in 1953, and Glenn Bell established the first Taco Bell restaurant in the 1960s that served as competition.

Agricultural Legacy

Downey was named after an Irish immigrant who became governor of California. Large ranches typical of the Spanish colonial era characterized Downey and the surrounding area’s early years. It was John Downey who is credited with breaking up these large swaths of land into small, thriving farms which served to change the entire economic landscape of Southern California. The days when agriculture was Downey’s dominant industry are pretty much over, but the city still recognizes the critical importance of farming in the area as shown by its community Downtown Downey Farmer’s Market.

Early Participation in the Aerospace Industry
Southern California has both a mysterious and distinctive connection with the aerospace industry that pre-dates World War II. Aircraft manufacturing plants sprung up in Downey during World War II to produce bombers for the Allied Forces. During that era, legends began to swirl about that American presidents specifically Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower had been contacted by extraterrestrial ambassadors and eventually made agreements with those entities in exchange for technology. The Majestic 12 Eisenhower briefing of 1952 reportedly gave incoming President Eisenhower the scoop on intelligence gathering done by former President Truman’s specially appointed team.

By 1954, President Eisenhower supposedly had a meeting with certain alien life forms at Edward’s Air Force base in Lancaster just an hour and a half north of Downey. By 1959, President Eisenhower’s administration was credited with launching America into the emerging space industry with Project Mercury and the Apollo Space Program whose space crafts were largely constructed in Downey by then known private contractor Rockwell International. Downey was the birthplace and a major hub of manufacturing operations for the aerospace industry for nearly 70 years before factory closures in 1999.


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