fallout shelters

City Living, History

Photo via Wiki Commons

New York City has started taking down the yellow nuclear fallout shelter signs slapped on thousands of buildings across the city in the 1960s. According to AM New York, city officials believe these metal black-and-yellow signs “are misleading Cold War relics that no longer denote functional shelters.” But back in the ’60s, they were considered emblematic of the era. President John F. Kennedy created a shelter program in 1961 across U.S. cities as anxieties grew high over the nuclear arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union. By 1963, an estimated 18,000 shelters had been designated across the five boroughs, and the Department of Defense had plans to add another 34,000 shelters citywide. Most were no more than basements marked by an official government sign–and now the remnants of such signs are coming down.

Read more history of New York’s fallout shelters

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Features, History

Images: A model fallout shelter, 1955. Image Wiki Commons

Decades after the end of the Cold War, ominous black-and-yellow fallout shelter signs still mark buildings across New York City’s five boroughs. The actual number of designated fallout shelters in the city is difficult to discern. What is known is that by 1963, an estimated 18,000 shelters had been designated, and the Department of Defense had plans to add another 34,000 shelters citywide.

While the presence of a fallout shelter in one’s building may have given some residents peace of mind in an era when nuclear destruction seemed imminent, in reality, most of New York’s fallout shelters were little more than basements marked by an official government sign.

more on the history of new york’s fallout shelters

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