The rise and fall of the American fallout shelter

  • Published on Sep 22, 2017
  • Whatever happened to fallout shelters? And would they have actually worked?
    Watch Duck and Cover with us:
    Phil Edwards on Facebook: philedwardsinc1/
    In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox's Phil Edwards looks at the history behind one of the Cold War's more unusual legacies - the fallout shelter. Of course, any history of the fallout shelter has to include nuclear proliferation, civil defense, Presidential politics, and a turtle named Bert.
    The video above serves as a condensed history of the Cold War’s fallout shelter fad, from the kookily cheerful propaganda videos to the hobbled Federal agencies that tried to administer Civil Defense. Yes, it includes the classic Cold War film Duck and Cover, in which a bomb-fearing turtle named Bert teaches kids that hiding under their desks could be sufficient protection from nuclear annihilation.
    Any history of fallout shelter culture (and Cold War propaganda) becomes an indirect history of Cold War nuclear escalation, from Hiroshima-sized bombs to hydrogen behemoths. As the nuclear threat increased in magnitude, the absurdity of civil defense amped up simultaneously.
    This video (and a day spend trawling the Internet Archive for darkly humorous videos) provides a more intimate portrait of Cold War paranoia as it was lived. Paired with Kenneth Rose’s comprehensive book about fallout shelter culture, it’s a look at daily life with the bomb - even when that daily life included the occasional jaunt to a thick-walled concrete bunker a few feet underground.
    Subscribe to our channel! is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.
    Check out our full video catalog:
    Follow Vox on Twitter:
    Or on Facebook:

Comments • 2 911

  • Xavier Peypoch
    Xavier Peypoch 6 hours ago

    This is, probably still, Vox's best essay.

  • It’s free real estate With 1 video

    What the song at 3:05

  • Randy Wiggins
    Randy Wiggins 7 days ago

    The Czar bomb is to big and heavy for rocket. It has to be flown on big plane. Don't use them as example.

  • Tammy Ileene
    Tammy Ileene 9 days ago

    some 50's music/tunes would have been better background at least for this video perhaps? Or not? :)

  • Tammy Ileene
    Tammy Ileene 9 days ago

    I miss the 50's when people looked like humans

  • AwesomeDesertTrains
    AwesomeDesertTrains 10 days ago

    we need civil defense to be activated once again no matter how good our anti missile defense system is

  • Mackenzie McIntyre
    Mackenzie McIntyre 13 days ago

    Love my bed time vids

  • yayo hazz
    yayo hazz 14 days ago

    1966 children about the future. watch that interview

  • Lighting Guy
    Lighting Guy 16 days ago

    Why the cut? Suspicious...🤔

  • Sam Para
    Sam Para 17 days ago

    The Jordan Schlansky of Vox

  • 그레이스안제라
    그레이스안제라 19 days ago

    *Vault Boy liked this video* 👍

  • C104 Otaku
    C104 Otaku 23 days ago

    Their symbol looks like they stole it straight from Harry Potter

  • Patricia Catalano
    Patricia Catalano 23 days ago

    My school has a ton of them (cuz its in D.C)

  • Mike Mcguinness
    Mike Mcguinness 24 days ago

    What's that music , I wanna know . If anyone can tell me

  • Bitten_By_Frost
    Bitten_By_Frost 25 days ago +1

    Oh man, I remember doing the 'duck and cover' in 5th and 6th grade after 9/11...The government uses fear to control the masses

  • Noah Torok
    Noah Torok Month ago

    vault tec calling

  • Samin Matin
    Samin Matin Month ago

    Learn from the Swiss-USA

  • Nick_Crouton 666
    Nick_Crouton 666 Month ago

    The Dum Dum Effect Is Very Unsettling

  • disoriented1
    disoriented1 Month ago

    I always wondered why my high school cafeteria was a designated fallout shelter, when from the courtyard windows we could see downtown KCMO..about five miles away. And for those who, like me, thought Kansas City..why waste a bomb? the time it was the junction of many transcontinental ATandT trunk communication lines...and surrounded by Minuteman missile bases.

  • Taric Miles
    Taric Miles Month ago +1

    ok so im not ok with the music at all, it was so creepy

  • CeyAti Es
    CeyAti Es Month ago

    Someone call Vault-Tec

  • Phillip Brown
    Phillip Brown Month ago

    Well my house is gone... thanks nukemap, now I need to buy iodine...

  • Joaquín Fritzler
    Joaquín Fritzler Month ago

    Como siempre, el pueblo americano es tomado como estúpido. Y como siempre, el pueblo americano hace su parte.

  • [WUT] Ironix _
    [WUT] Ironix _ Month ago +1

    Don’t forget to bring Dogmeat!

  • jan baginski
    jan baginski Month ago

    what makes you s.p.e.c.i.a.l

  • Kainè
    Kainè Month ago

    Crawl out trough the follout next to meeeeeeeeeeeeeEeEeEeEeEeEe

  • Yassine Saïdi
    Yassine Saïdi Month ago

    Choosing the Tsar Bomba for the simulation is a little bit extreme.
    The Soviet arsenal was of course not made of Tsar Bombas, which were impractical for ICBMs anyway.
    Any proposed Soviet plan would have been using a mix of different yields, from low hundreds Kt warheads to around 20Mt nukes, depending on the targets. And some would have been air blasts, some would have been ground blasts.

  • Chris Anderson
    Chris Anderson Month ago

    Operation Ivy is the name of one of my fav bands back in high school. I’m getting old

  • zeverain
    zeverain 2 months ago

    The whole basement of one of the dorms at my University is designed to be a fallout shelter, still has the sign saying it can hold 5500 people. The whole basement has incredibly wide, tiled, dark, winding hallways and it just is creepy.

  • Is This Rain?
    Is This Rain? 2 months ago

    The repeating _"dum dum"_ sound clip was a bit annoying though

  • Jeff Conway
    Jeff Conway 2 months ago

    Was this episode improvised?

  • The Radiation Zone
    The Radiation Zone 2 months ago

    Thanks Vox.
    Now when we get nuked and no one has a fallout shelter because they listen to you, may it be your ignorance the first to burn.

  • OOZiTen
    OOZiTen 2 months ago

    I found the original Burt the turtle video.. can you post the link of the song in the video? Great work whoever made ot

  • Victor Camargo
    Victor Camargo 2 months ago

    These commercials played 50 years ago, having a family reunion today. Everyone still wonders how come grandpa doesn't turn the fallout shelter into a basement.

  • jupiter is a bean
    jupiter is a bean 2 months ago

    I can't believe he gave a fallout shelter tour

  • Super BottleBros
    Super BottleBros 2 months ago

    like is you think that the "dum dum" is kinda creepy

  • DrJeffBob
    DrJeffBob 2 months ago

    I'm liking that song, what's the name?

  • Nily Sener
    Nily Sener 2 months ago

    Isn’t this a game?

  • Montana Bulldog
    Montana Bulldog 2 months ago

    This video makes pretty clear how much about "Survival", you actually KNOW . . . which appears to be "Very Little" !.

  • Quamhe Berri
    Quamhe Berri 3 months ago

    God the music is creepy

  • Mint Brisk
    Mint Brisk 3 months ago

    The sad fact is that these shelters are only available for upper crust and those who can rejuvenate the economy, as for the rest? They are just “in the way”

  • Dorothy Winslow
    Dorothy Winslow 3 months ago

    We have one in our middle school (used to be the high school) and one in a bank. We’re a small town, but, our town is named Berlin (pronounce brr-lyn). A lot of house also have diy shelters. My house has one lol 😂

    • GrubLogic
      GrubLogic 3 months ago

      My elementary school was a pretty serious nuclear shelter. Underground tunnels and everything. If you mean Berlin, Ohio (nice area), then you're lucky to have some fallout shelters: Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton would be hit with multiple warheads in the megaton range in a real conflict.

  • Wesley Feickert
    Wesley Feickert 3 months ago

    One of the fallout shelters are at the post office

  • Evatan
    Evatan 3 months ago +2

    They stole Captain disillusion’s logo

  • Nina Marotta
    Nina Marotta 3 months ago +3

    I literally focus my entire life's work on civil defense. You've missed the point. Civil Defense was never about making sure every single person lived. Civil Defense was about teaching preparedness and action in an emergency. Also, big cities, for the most part, had evacuation plans. Yes, an ICBM can be at your door in 3 minutes with no warning. But again, it was never about full survival. It was about taking action, any action.


    Fallout 3 is coming near you

  • Knight Wind
    Knight Wind 3 months ago

    You will emerge! 🤘👽

  • Patrick Boulet
    Patrick Boulet 3 months ago

    A brighter future, under ground. Vault tec

  • Myles Schutte
    Myles Schutte 3 months ago

    War. War never changes.

  • Marina Melinda Rivera
    Marina Melinda Rivera 3 months ago

    Was that Rod Sterlings voice in the vid with the kids in the baseball field?

  • duncan amos
    duncan amos 3 months ago +1

    I remember something similar to the "duck and cover" exercises in England, around the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • Brian Mitchell
    Brian Mitchell 3 months ago +1

    Walt better load his gun to shoot to kill. Should have not told neighbors about his fallout shelter.

  • CCCP должен снова подняться!

    Couple years too late, but Tsar Bomba was much too heavy to be put on an ICBM, The only possible way would have been by plane. Subsequently it would have been shot down before the targeted area was ever reached.

  • Dhani Z
    Dhani Z 3 months ago

    6:45 bikini bottom!!

  • Strong Alpha Black Female Who Need No Man

    0:33 allahu akbar!!!

  • Jesus Miranda
    Jesus Miranda 3 months ago

    Another case of security theater

  • Madeline Kelly
    Madeline Kelly 3 months ago

    I need that dum dum remix tho

  • ParaEwie
    ParaEwie 3 months ago

    2:27 I just noticed that none of my family lives in any of those areas lol

  • ParaEwie
    ParaEwie 3 months ago

    1:39 sign high five

  • Happy Doggo
    Happy Doggo 3 months ago

    Instead of house tours, there was fallout shelter tours.