Donald W. Douglas (1892 – 1981)
The early 20th century was a time of great mechanical innovation in America. William Durant at General Motors, Henry Ford, the Dodge brothers and the Studebaker family launched major automobile firms, and William Boeing, the Lockheed brothers and Donald W. Douglas began their aircraft manufacturing companies. Douglas was just 28 when he arrived in Santa Monica and started his firm in the backroom of a barbershop on Pico Boulevard. Within two decades, the Douglas Aircraft Company had large, state-of-the-art production facilities in Santa Monica and El Segundo and was breaking ground for another in Long Beach. Tens of thousands of homes across the Southland and especially in Santa Monica were built to house the Douglas workforce. Donald Douglas went on to open additional plants in Chicago, Tulsa and Oklahoma City and became czar for all U.S. aircraft production under President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II.