JF Ptak Science Book LLC Post 941
Having just finished a post here on missing and duplicated-in-outer-space New York Cities, we return to the more grim possibilities of pre-Cold War cityicide.
I haven't seen very many images at all of NYC under attack, and this one from nuclear attack on NYC from Collier's Magazine (1948) is fantastically poignant, showing perhaps three ground-bursts of atomic bombs in Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the time, 1948, the Soviets had just developed their bomb and I think had no way of getting one here. But this didn't speak to the future, and my guiess is that Collier's was just taking it a little easy with the popular reading clientelle. I can't remember now how many weapons would've been targeted at NYC by the mid-1950's, but I know it wasn't a simple dozen.
A lateral view of this sort of explosion in Manhattan was presented in an extraordinary issue of the liberal PM Magazine, issued with a 7 August 1945 date (though I think it came out a few days later). This would have been just a day after the Hiroshima bombing, and the 12 pages of dedicated coverage t the atomic bomb was really quite spectacular. Included is the following small graphic that appeared on page seven which shows what effect the Hiroshima
Seeing the Collier's pictures makes it that much more difficult to think about the idea of Buckminster Fuller that would help rid ourselves of radiation anxiety (which I wrote about earlier, here).
Fuller’s idea is multiple orders of magnitude removed from the original idea of the arcade, constructing a dome1 to encapsulate NYC from the East River to the Hudson along 42nd St, and from 64th to 22nd St: that’s two miles in diameter and, plus a mile high (or about five Empire State Buildings pile one on top of the other). I’m not so sure how this would be built, or how things would be heated or cooled, or what the construction material was for the skin of the dome, or how people get in and out, or how you deal with heating and cooling, or how any noxious chemicals are expelled—but Mr. Fuller thought that the savings alone from snow removal from NYC streets would pay for the dome in ten years.
Mr. Fuller also thought that the dome would protect the city (or this part f the city) from radiation fallout. That could be true, assuming that of all the hundreds of nuclear warheads that the Soviets would’ve launched against NYC alone none of them would’ve found their target, except perhaps for the Ridgways or Staten Island, where the shock wave or winds produced by ensuing firestorms would not have disturbed the dome. Of course if a warhead actually came close—or actually hit—the dome, the protection from radiation would be moot.
Another odd and stomach-wrenching image comes from that devilish scamp Eugen Sanger (dead before he was fifty,
1905-1964), a German rocket designer and engineer for the National
Socialists, went to work for the French Air Ministry following the end
of World War Two after doing his all and thankfully falling short for
the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, or "Reich Aviation Ministry").
He worked without rancor there until he was nearly kidnapped by Joe Stalin—for the purpose I suppose of continuing work on what may have been his greatest effort, unfulfilled during the war years—the Amerika Bomber. The Soviets evidently thought that this might come in handy in 1947.
The Sänger Amerika Bomber (or Orbital Bomber, Antipodal Bomber or Atmosphere Skipper) was designed for supersonic, stratospheric flight, and had much more bang for the buck than the V2 (10000 feet/second exhaust velocity, as compared to the later V-2 rocket's 2000 meters/second, 6560 feet/second) and since it was stratospheric had a far greater range, coming in at better than 14,000 miles. The 22,000-pound weapon carried one large 8000-pound free-falling bomb.
Sanger’s idea in the early 1940’s was to get this bomb to around Times Square. And since the Amerika Bomber was a relatively inexpensive weapon compared to the damage it could cause, there was room for producing a lot of them.
Seeing Manhattan in the cross hairs like this is quite sobering, and it is an image that is rarely made.
Another attack on Manhattan depicted here comes from above, way above, Manhattan decimated by a meteorite "shower" of enormous magnitude. The image appears in an article by Hudson Maxim (1853-1927, brother of the more famous Hiram) "How the World Will End", printed in 1910, and shows dozens of small meteorites striking NYC in the City Hall area.
The last image comes from 1904 and--when taken out of context--it seems as though Manhattan is in for the worst of it, with a view in front of the Flat Iron Building of an aerial bombardment of women. This is probably one of the few bad things that weren't done with/at women, and would actually predate the first use of explosives being dropped from aircraft. Unfortunately the original, intended image was a poke at crinoline , and featured women being blown up into the air rather than the other way around, though I like my interpretation better.
(Source: Buckminster Fuller in Think magazine, vol 34, Jan/Feb 1968. AND of course the lovely work by Alison and Sky Michele Stone, Unbuilt America, McGraw Hill, 1976, pg. 99.)