2006_03_bridge.jpgThere is a super story in the NY Times about the recently discovered 1950s-1960s era bomb shelter discovered on the Manhattan side mooring of the Brooklyn Bridge. Work crews from the Department of Transportation stumbled upon the "dank and lightless room where the walls are lined with dusty boxes" while doing some routine inspection of the bridge, which just makes you wonder how routine inspection is if they missed it for five decades. But, anyway, it sounds really amazing, possibly more so because the city won't divulge where it's located (did city officials blindfold reporters and spin 'em around before they entered?):

For decades it waited in secret inside the masonry foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge, in a damp, dirty and darkened vault near the East River shoreline of Lower Manhattan: a stockpile of provisions that would allow for basic survival if New York City were devastated by a nuclear attack....

The most numerous items are the boxes of Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers. Printed in block letters, on each canister, was information about the number of pounds (6.75), the number of crackers per pound (62) and the minimum number of crackers per can (419). Joseph M. Vaccaro, a carpentry supervisor at the Transportation Department, estimated that there were 140 boxes of crackers — each with six cans, for a total of some 352,000 crackers...

Nearby were several dozen boxes with sealed bottles of Dextran, made by Wyeth Laboratories in Philadelphia. More mysterious were about 50 metal drums, made by United States Steel in Camden, N.J. According to the label, each was intended to hold 17.5 gallons and to be converted, if necessary, for "reuse as a commode." They are now empty.

Crackers and commodes - oh my! Experts don't think the shelter would have been much help in case of a nuclear fallout, but say that it probably made city officials feel better - ah, remember when everyone was scrambling around for duct tape after September 11? Goodness knows what people in 2056 will think when they find stashes of Red Bull, Cipro, and jump drives laying around in the other bomb shelter the city is probably secretly building. Anyway, Gothamist loves the "What's So Big About New York" poster in this photograph of the shelter, adding "Look for NYC-related cold war propaganda" to things we'd like to own.

Columbia professor and NYC historian Kenneth T. Jackson is quoted in the article ("What surprises me is that we have all these little nooks — that in this huge city with people crawling everywhere, we can find rooms still filled with stuff, 50 years after the fact."), and his book, The Encyclopedia of New York City, is a great resource. And do you have your Go bag?