Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blight in the Atomic Age

National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association. Film still from The House in the Middle (1954). Full film available from the Prelinger Archives:

The subject of Cold War Architecture has come up on this blog before, in part prompted by a childhood spent in North Dakota, home at one point to an estimated 1700 nuclear weapons. Children statewide were still doing "duck and cover" drills into the 1980s. In 1999, the Brookings Institution identified the five states with the largest nuclear arsenals; North Dakota came in fifth behind New Mexico, Georgia, Washington and Nevada. Since disarmament, historic preservationists have been able to save North Dakota's last Minuteman missile launch complex, which will open summer 2009 outside of Cooperstown as the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Missile Silo Historic Site.

1950's-1960's concrete and asbestos advertisements housed in the Southeastern Architectural Archive evidence the Cold War preoccupation
with blast-proof architecture. Paint manufacturers also emphasized the atomic-prophylactic benefits of their products: The National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association produced The House in the Middle (1954) to demonstrate that the unkempt unpainted house was more susceptible to nuclear annihilation.

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