THE FALLOUT SHELTER SIGN SOON TO BE EXTINCT AS MORE AND MORE BUILDING OWNERS ARE REMOVING THEM FROM OUTSIDE THEIR BUILDINGS. THEY WERE UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE US GOVERNMENT WHEN SURVEYED IN THE EARLY 1960 S AS A PLACE WHERE THE PUBLIC COULD FIND REFUGE IN THE EVENT OF A NUCLEAR ATTACK, ALSO IT DENOTED THAT WITHIN WERE PROVISIONS AND SOME TYPE OF LEADERSHIP THAT WOULD ASSIST THE PUBLIC AS THEY CAME TO OCCUPY THE SHELTER AREA, MOST WERE JUST INTERIOR STAIRWAYS OR LOWER LEVELS IN A PARKING GARAGE OR A ALREADY FILLED SPACE IN A BASEMENT OF A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING OR COMMERCIAL STORE. THESE AREAS DID NOT PROVIDE ADEQUATe VENTILATION AND MOST SHELTERS WERE NOT STOCKED AND IF THEY WERE MOST LIKELY THE WATER BARRELS WERE EMPTY AND NOT FILLED AND MEDICAL KITS OR RADIOLOGICAL EQUIPMENT WERE ALREADY LOOTED. NYC IS FILLED WITH BUILDINGS IDENTIFYING THEM AS PUBLIC SHELTERS AND SOMETIMES YOU WILL SEE A BUILDING OWNER THROWING SANITATION AND CRACKER FILLED BARRELS AND TINS INTO A 30 YARD ROLL OFF DUMPSTER EVEN THOUGH THESE ITEMS ARE SOLD AS NOVELTIES ON E BAY THE INVENTORY WITHIN THESE SHELTERS WAS ABANDONED IN PLACE BY THE US GOVT. WHEN JIMMY CARTER CAME IN TO OFFICE AND THE OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE BECAME THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY. THE FALLOUT SHELTER PROGRAM WAS DOOMED OR READY TO BE FORGOTTEN AS FEMA CAME UP WITH IDEAS LIKE SHELTER IN PLACE AND STOPPED PUBLISHING SURVIVING AN ATOMIC ATTACK AND STARTED PREPARING FOR NATURAL DISASTERS, FEMAS CIVILIAN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE DROPPED THE THIRD COURSE IN ITS SERIES OF EMI STUDIES. SURVIVAL IN A NUCLEAR ATTACK ONE DAY BECAME UNAVAILABLE AS A COURSE TO GET CERTIFIED IN. RADIOLOGICAL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS BECAME A NEW COURSE AS IT COVERED IN PART OF THE COURSE NUCLEAR ATTACK. MOST CITIES WENT ROUGE AND JUST DROPPED THE COMMUNITY SHELTER PLAN AND THE MAINTAINING OF SHELTERS AROUND 1978 - 1983 1983 WAS THE LAST COMMUNITY SHELTER LIST THAT WAS SUPPOSE TO BE A LISTING OF SHELTERS STILL EXISTING ALTHOUGH IT STILL LISTED NIKE MISSILE SITES LONG DECOMMISSIONED AND CLOSED IN 1970-75 .NYC LOOKED AT SHELTERS LIKE BURIAL PILES AS PEOPLE OCCUPIED THESE SHELTERS UNDER 30 STORY HIGH OR HIGHER BUILDINGS THEY WOULD COME DOWN ON TOP OF THOSE SHELTERING IN THEM ENTOMBING THEM FOREVER AS RADIATION LEVELS IN A TARGET CITY LIKE NEW YORK WOULD NOT DISSIPATE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND HOW WOULD CIVILIZATION EVEN GET THE MATERIAL OR MACHINES IN A POST WAR SOCIETY TO UNCOVER THOSE BURIED UNDER HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF SITES THAT POSSESSED SHELTER SITES UNDER LARGE SKYSCRAPERS.
FACT SHEET: NATIONAL FALLOUT SHELTER SIGN
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy announced an ambitious plan to identify, mark and stock existing public building space for fallout shelter protection for approximately 50 million U.S. citizens. In order to "mark" buildings offering this type of emergency refuge, the government had to design a sign. The following document explaining the National Fallout Shelter Sign was located at the National Archives. Because of the cross-outs and handwritten additions, it is almost certainly a draft document.
Given the iconic status* of the Fallout Shelter Sign, this document is a fascinating one to read.
*Aside from achieving universal recognition value during the Cold War, the sign received perhaps its most prestigious honor when the British rock band The Who appropriated it as an advertising symbol for their 1973 North American tour.
The following is a transcription of the entire document:
FACT SHEET (Hand written above the title)
NATIONAL FALLOUT SHELTER SIGN
The National Fallout Shelter Sign will be a familiar sight all over the United States next year. It will mark buildings and other facilities as areas where 50 or more persons can be sheltered from radioactive fallout resulting from a nuclear attack.
The fallout sign will be used only to mark Federally approved buildings surveyed by architect-engineer firms under contract to the Department of Defense.
In awarding the contract for design of the sign to graphic arts studios it was designated the services of a psychologist be obtained to recommend a visual symbol that could be easily identified and remembered. The sign had to meet the psychological requirements of simplicity, easy identification, retention, and arresting color combination.
It had to be simple enough to be easily identified by children, non-English speaking persons or others who may not be able to read. The color combination, yellow and black, is considered as the most easily identified attention getter by psychologists in the graphic arts industry. The sign can be seen and recognized at distances up to 200 feet.
The shelter symbol on the sign is a black circle set against a yellow rectangular background. Inside the circle, three yellow triangles are arranged in geometric pattern with apex of the triangle pointing down.
Below the fallout symbol, lettered in yellow against black, are the words Fallout Shelter in plain block letters. Yellow directional arrows are located directly underneath the lettering which will indicate the location of the shelter.