History: relics of the past

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Tower for air raid siren at Northacres Park
Photo by Andrew Thompson

By Diane Hettrick

During the Cold War with Russia after WWII, Americans expected nuclear bombs to rain down on them at any moment.

In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was great fear of nuclear fall out.

Air raid shelters were built and stocked and marked with the distinctive sign. Personal fallout shelters were built in basements and dug into yards. There was agonized public conversation about the moral issue of what you would do if your unprepared neighbor wanted into your shelter. Would you let them in?

Schoolchildren were taught to crouch under their desks for protection.

The whole system depended on being warned of attack, so public air raid sirens were installed and tested every Wednesday at noon.

There are relics of those days still left. Northacres Park at 127th and 1st NE in the Haller Lake neighborhood of Seattle still has the tower for the air raid siren, rusting away among the trees.

Dan Short, who photographs odd corners of Shoreline, says that "There used to be one of these sirens at the entrance road to Hamlin Park on NE 160th St. It would sound off very loudly every Wednesday at noon."


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