Being viewed as the world’s most powerful nation is fun; however, that status symbol also makes for a target. Before the advent of modern artillery and airborne weapons, American families hid in their basements, attics or haylofts to escape enemy invasions from foot soldiers. After Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, things started to change.
The development of nuclear weapons progressed, thus began the fallout shelter craze. Around 1950, Popular Science magazine started publishing blueprints, diagrams and detailed instructions on how to build home fallout shelters. These underground structures promised to protect people from a nuclear attack. The threat was so real that President John F. Kennedy appointed America’s first civil defense chief, lawyer Steuart Pittman, to orchestrate the construction of enough fallout shelters to protect everyone in America if we were the target of an atomic attack. Thankfully, they’ve never had to be used.
10. Burlington Bunker, UK
Built in 1950 by the British government, this bomb shelter was designed to serve as the Emergency Government War Headquarters as well as a bunker to shelter civilians from nuclear attacks. It’s a 35 acre complex located 100 feet beneath the surface of Corsham. It had enough provisions to feed and shelter 6,000 people for 3 months but since it also housed an underground lake and water treatment facility, people could have conceivably survived a lot longer.
9. Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
Nothing spells safety like granite, especially 2,000 feet of granite. The triple-peaked mountain complex took 5 years to build and was completed in 1966. The Colorado Springs facility was created to endure a 5 megaton nuclear explosion up to 1.7 miles away. The mountain housed underground operations center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) during the Cold War to keep an eye on North American airspace for missile launches and Soviet military aircraft.
8. Denver International Airport, Colorado
The massive Denver International Airport covers more than 53 square miles and sits atop a pretty remote plane, making landings more thrilling than most. Fairly reliable sources claim there are bunkers built under or near the airport that would protect people from a nuclear attack. Hopefully, that’s true!
7. The Greenbrier Bunker, Virginia
In 1958, during its Eisenhower-Era, the United States government agreed to build this world famous luxury hotel in White Sulphur Springs a brand new addition in exchange for the right to build a 120,000 square foot bunker underneath it. Built 720 feet into the hillside under The Greenbrier’s West Virginia Wing, the project was completed in 1961.
6. Iron Mountain, Massachusetts
This 10,000 square foot space in a 1,000 acre limestone mine is believed by many to be one of the safest places on earth. Although it wasn’t formally built as a bomb shelter and it’s been used for commercial digital data storage for decades, its physical structure hasn’t been compromised, making it one of the nation’s best fortresses in which to seek refuge from nuclear war.
5. Mount Weather, Virginia
This civilian command facility doubles as FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Center Of Operations and the President of the United States or a FEMA official would make the announcement, which indicates the high level of protection it provides. The site originated as a weather station in the late 1800s, and served as a Civilian Public Service Station during World War II.
4. The Moscow Metro, Russia
Stalin and his regime had this system built beneath the city of Moscow during the Cold War. This large subterranean system of secret trains and bunkers is still heavily used today, in fact its one of the most used in the world, transporting about 9 million people each day. Not only is this metro among the most beautiful in the world, it happens to be a very safe place.
3. Raven Rock Mountain Complex, Pennsylvania-Maryland
If you fancy escaping a nuclear attack in style, make sure you’re near Raven Rock Mountain Complex. The five, 3-story buildings at the facility house a dental clinic, medical clinic, dining facility, post office, snack bar, dormitories, chapel, barber shop, fitness center and even a Starbucks, all with high-tech ventilation systems.
2. The Shanghai Complex, China
As with most news that comes out of China, the story of the completion of this complex that surfaced in 2006 is somewhat suspect. Nevertheless, The Shanghai Morning Post reported the bunker is 1 million square feet, big enough to protect 200,000 people from blasts, nuclear radiation and poisonous gas emissions.
1. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Often affectionately dubbed the Noah’s Ark for seeds, this huge vault is located inside a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen Island. Designed to store and safeguard innumerable kinds of seeds from all over the world, it ensures the protection of vegetation in perpetuity. Since the vault protrudes deep inside a mountain, it would likely protect people as well.