You can still see Robert W. Blakeley’s ominous signs on old public buildings, rusted metal relics of an age when nuclear war was a clear and present danger. They marked the way to the fallout shelters where millions of Americans were to take refuge from the deadly radioactivity of thermonuclear explosions.
A half-century ago, the bright orange-yellow and black placards were ubiquitous on courthouses, town halls, schools and other shelters packed with canned goods and water supplies to sustain anywhere from 50 to thousands of people for days or weeks. To many, they represented hope for survival amid the destruction of cities. To others, they symbolized the insanity of war and the folly of defenses against nuclear attack.
Fallout shelters are one of the many interesting remnants of history still visible on the streets of New York.