NYC ‘Fallout Shelter’ signs take on new meaning

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NEW YORK CITY — Decades after the end of the Cold War, old “Fallout Shelter” signs are still all around New York City. But people are beginning to look at them in a whole new light given the nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.

These bomb shelters were built after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller called for a massive shelter program in 1960 (he later had shelters installed in the governor’s mansion and his three homes). Shelters were built in office and apartment buildings and even high-profile places, allegedly including The Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Central Terminal. In 2006, a shelter in the Brooklyn Bridge was also uncovered.

The shelters were stocked with supplies like aspirin, toilet paper and biscuits. By the 1970s however, the shelters had run out of financial support nationally and locally. The remaining supplies were either removed, destroyed or forgotten.

Most of the shelters have been repurposed, with only their faded signs remaining. And until recently, few have given them a second look.