Protecting the City


Many New Yorkers who were children during the 1950s will tell you that they had to take cover under their desks during air raid drills. Civil defense drills in New York City schools started in Fall 1950 and students were required to wear identification tags.42
ID tag ad
This ad appeared in the publication School Executive in August 1951. The copy reads:"From New York City to Redwood, California, many cities across the country are ordering Identification Necklaces as a safeguard for their school children." (Image: Lori Lyn Bogle, The Cold War: Cold War Culture and Society (Taylor and Francis, 2001), 162.)
New Yorkers felt particularly vulnerable to attack in their major coastal location and many schemes to protect the city were put forward. Mayor Impellitteri and Harry Prince, President of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects both had plans for the city.  The mayor wanted to use federal funds to improve the subway while at the same time turning it into a public shelter. Prince argued that the government should provide money to clear “slums” and replace them with fireproof public housing.43 One bizarre suggestion came from a New York engineer who proposed giant elevators to lower the city’s skyscrapers into the ground.44

42. Allan M. Winkler, Life Under a Cloud: American Anxiety About the Atom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 114-115.  
43.
 McEnaney, Civil Defense, 44.
44.
 Boyer, By the Bomb’s, 319.
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