Chart of the Day: Driving Distance versus Atomic Bomb Location

Here’s a blast from the past that is technically a chart:

I saw this on Twitter the other day, but I don’t remember where. So apologies to whoever posted it.

As you might recall, the 1956 Interstate Highway Act was actually titled the “National Interstate and Defense Highways Act.” According to Wikipedia:

The addition of the term “defense” in the act’s title was for two reasons: First, some of the original cost was diverted from defense funds. Secondly, most U.S. Air Force bases have a direct link to the system. One of the stated purposes was to provide access in order to defend the United States during an attack. All of these links were in the original plans, although some, such as Wright Patterson were not connected up in the 1950s, but only somewhat later.

Cities back then were seen as weaknesses simply because their density made them theoretically easy targets for Russian nukes. Freeways and driving were one solution to the threat of nuclear war.

Actually, however, automobiles do not make good bomb shelters. Or so I have been told… Do not use your car as an atom bomb shelter.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.