The Cold War was a pivotal time for the United States. Like much of the world, the US was recovering from WWII. This recovery lead to a significant economic and cultural boom, with sights of prosperity more apparent than ever. TV's in households were becoming common, cars were being bought, and people were starting to live their lives again after such a devastating period. Despite this return to normalcy, the years after WWII were anything but normal. In the midst of the Cold War, life was certainly different from the world we know today. Check out these rare photos to see just how insane life was during Cold War America!
The Soviet Union and the United States were not only facing an arms race but a space race as well. The USSR first launched Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, in 1957. This fuelled further tensions with the United States as they feared they were falling behind from a technology standpoint. There was just no getting along for these nations back during the Cold War!
The Berlin crisis saw the USSR demand all armed forces to withdraw from West Berlin, including Western Allies. This resulted in cutting off all land access between West Germany and West Berlin, only allowing citizens to receive supplies via air. This crisis marked a peak in tension between the United States and USSR, with citizens in West Berlin bearing the brunt of the ideological battle.
When leaving West Berlin, you would cross Brandenburg Gate and be encountered with signs noting your exit. The Brandenburg gate became a famous landmark for the division between East and West Berlin. Lots of propaganda events were staged there, and it somehow survived the test of time. Today, the Brandenburg Gate is now a popular tourist attraction that stands for peace and unity.
The Media sure wasn't worried about scaring the public when they released a double-page spread on the effects a hydrogen bomb would have on London, England. The graphic shows how far the bomb would reach, which would essentially annihilate the whole of London and its neighboring countries. Thank goodness we never saw this happen!
When you think of a family basement, you may picture a games table, maybe a large TV, or even an extra bedroom. Can you picture a shelter stashed in the corner for your family to enter in the event of a nuclear attack? Steel and Concrete shelters were common in family basements during the Cold War, allowing citizens to feel protected in the event that a nuclear attack ever occurred. Pretty scary!
The Cuban Missile Crisis was another pivotal event during The Cold War. People were able to watch the army position aircraft missiles in Key Water, Florida, to prepare for launch. Nowadays you may see a cargo ship when walking along the beach, not missiles!
The Cuban Missile Crisis saw a crazy 13-day military standoff over the USSR's installation of nuclear missiles. This was a pivotal moment during the Cold War, with residual effects still being felt between Cuba and The United States today. Both sides were desperate to understand the plans of each other so espionage was quite common. In this picture, aerial spy photos show a ballistic missile base in Cuba.
With East and West Berlin being separated during The Cold War, families were torn apart with no end in sight. People were desperate to escape to the other side, and some even took drastic measures to make this happen. A group of 20 students in East Berlin dug a tunnel under the Berlin Wall in an effort to reach West Berlin. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
When you think of Alaska, chances are you think of snow, snow, and more snow! Turns out, Alaska played host to some radar stations which were created to watch for nuclear bombers and missiles coming from The Soviet Union. It's safe to say The United States was well prepared in the event of an attack!
Despite many countries now possessing nuclear capabilities, the threat of nuclear attack was quite prominent during The Cold War. In an effort to prepare the country, fallout shelters were created to protect citizens. Fallout shelters were designed to protect humans from radioactive debris as the result of a nuclear explosion. Talk about terrifying!
During the Cold War, there was always an anxiety that existed among the population of a nuclear attack happening at any given moment. In an effort to prepare for this, children underwent drills where they would hide under their desks to protect themselves. Can you imagine your kids preparing for this now?
You've probably seen a picture of an American Convair B.36 "Peacemaker" strategic bomber in a history book or in an old film. These exceptional planes stood at 47 feet tall, making them too tall to fit inside hangars. The airplane tails had to protrude outside of the wall because there wasn't enough room for them! Talk about a large carrier!
It's crazy to think of a nuclear attack ever happening in our lifetime, but the threat was very real for those living during the Cold War. Still recovering from two world wars, the United States had to be ready at all times for an attack. There were road signs published on highways noting they would be closed in the event of an attack, allowing only military vehicles to enter. Scary stuff!
If you've ever been outside a government building, you know the vibe tends to be pretty serious. There are usually armed guards, fences, etc to ensure that the area is protected at all times. But can you imagine seeing missiles being openly transported on your walk home from work? Yep! In Moscow, it wasn't uncommon to see missiles being transported, in an effort to prepare themselves for an attack as well.
In the Cold War era, it was difficult to know who you could trust. With spies operating on behalf of the Soviet Union and The United States, it was risky business getting involved in that sort of trade. When couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of espionage, people rallied to their support in hopes of preventing their sentence, the death penalty. Unfortunately, the pleas did not help, and the couple was executed on 1st May 1953.
With the devastating news that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were facing the death penalty for espionage, groups of Italian protestors got together to protest the decision. These groups sympathized with the couple and hoped for their release. This, unfortunately, didn't happen for the spy couple, who faced execution in the end.
A lot of work went into preparing the country for an attack, including secret projects. One of those was Camp Century. This was a cover project for Project Iceworm which intended to build nuclear missile launch sites under Greenland's ice sheet. Crazy stuff! The US had to abandon the project after discovering that the surrounding ice wasn't stable enough to support the structures. Pretty tough going!
You may have come across a tornado shelter in your lifetime, but have you ever come across a bomb shelter? Bomb shelters were built to allow people to have somewhere to hide in the case of an attack. It's a good thing they didn't have to be used!
Hopefully, you've never seen the aftermath of an atomic bomb. While it is incredibly devastating to anything it encounters, it also looks quite beautiful when observed from far, far away - like in a picture. The smoke shoots up vertically before dissipating outwards, forming a mushroom cloud. Deadly but beautiful!
When you browse a backyard nowadays, you may encounter a BBQ, children's toys, and maybe even a swimming pool. Can you picture spotting a shelter to protect you from a nuclear attack? Lots of homes purchased back then had plans for fallout shelters to be placed in their basements and backyards to protect their families in the event of an attack. Not the prettiest thing to look at when going outside!
Although they never had to be used, Fallout Shelters were created to protect the American people from harmful radioactivity as the result of a nuclear attack. The shelters were far from cozy, with cement sides and no natural light. Lots of the fallout shelters that were built during the cold war actually turned out to be quite dangerous if they were used for prolonged periods of time given the lack of proper ventilation needed to survive.
With much of the world believing that a nuclear attack was imminent, operation rooms were created where key military decisions were to be made. Maps and charts were created and ready for immediate use - there was no messing around back then!
Despite lots of tension existing around the world, there were still some beautiful sites to be seen. One of these was the Moscow skyline lit up at night. The lights from offices, buildings, and skyscrapers light up the streets, making them more a gorgeous sight.
When people visit the Berlin Wall nowadays, the mood is often quiet and somber as people try to picture being separated from their loved ones overnight. While there's a lot of difficult memories, there were also beautiful images that emerged from such a difficult time. Iconic messages existed on the wall now as a symbol of hope and unity.
Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and United States President Ronald Reagan dominated the international stage for the later part of the Cold War. They finally were able to meet each other during a summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
With the threat of nuclear attack imminent, much of the public was eager to return to a peaceful society. Rallies and demonstrations were held all across the United States with protestors demanding nuclear disarmament, which would freeze nuclear arms. The Arms Race wasn't helping anyone, and instead of destroying lives and relations across the globe.
There are many iconic moments in time. The end of the Second World War, the first moon landing, and the fall of the Berlin wall. This signified the end of the Cold War and saw people rejoicing in the streets.
Whether you go for the day or attend a specific event, there's always a reason to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall. Many people living today will have remembered how monumental this was for the world in an effort to move to a more peaceful society.
The Berlin wall is visited by thousands of tourists each year to get a glimpse into life for those in East and West Berlin during The Cold War. In this picture, a quote from Nikita Khrushchev is displayed, which reads "We're closing Berlin off. We're going to roll out barbed wire, and the Western Allies are going to stand there like dumb sheep!" It's hard to think that the fall of the Berlin Wall took place more than 21 years ago. Visiting places that played such an important role during the Cold War reminds us of how difficult the world was and how important peace is among nations.
Not all creations from the Cold War have been discarded. In Moscow, Russia, one of the most restricted military sites of the USSR during the Cold War has been transformed into a leisure center for those seeking a bit of luxury. What a crazy way to spend an afternoon!