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NYC Nuclear Archive


Members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) celebrate the adoption of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in New York, 7th July 2017. ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its advocacy for this treaty. Photo by Clare Conboy courtesy of ICAN.

The history of the development of nuclear technology and the subsequent protest against its use is hidden in the office buildings, universities campuses, apartment buildings, parks, and streets of New York City. The city’s role as an international center of business and scientific research also made it the epicenter of numerous visible protest movements. The dark side of this prominence is that New York also came to be seen by many as a potential target for nuclear attacks. 

By looking at spaces within New York City and the way that people have projected nuclear fears onto the city, the NYC Nuclear Archive aims to make the sprawling story of the nuclear age more manageable while bringing to light the hidden story of nuclear New York.

The NYC Nuclear Archive is based largely on the “Nuclear New York” online archive compiled by Catherine Falzone. Her work has been republished here with her permission. Some pages have been added or edited by other authors, who are credited on the individual pages.


1. Introduction

2. Invention of the Nuclear Bomb

a. J. Robert Oppenheimer

b. The Manhattan Project

c. Research at Columbia University

3. Espionage

4. Civil Defense and Propaganda

a. Public Events

b. Civil Defense Research

c. Civil Defense in New York

5. New York’s Nuclear Geography

a. Former Sites Involved in Nuclear Weapons Development in New York

i. Remediation of Columbia University’s Manhattan Project Sites

ii. Remediation of Former Baker and Williams Warehouses

iii. Former Wolff-Alport Chemical Corp. Superfund Site

iv. Former Archer Daniels Midland Company Warehouse, Remediation under Consideration

v. Radium Chemical Company, Former Superfund Site

b. Nuclear Missiles in New York

6. Antinuclear Movement, 1950s-1960s

a. SANE, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy

b. Emergence of Protest

c. Anti-Civil Defense Drill Protests

d. Women Strike for Peace

d. Communism and Anticommunism

7. Nuclear Freeze Campaign, 1970s-1980s

8. Nuclear Power and its Discontents

9. A Nuclear-Free Harbor, 1980s-1990s

10. The Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, 2000s-2010s

a. International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

b. Negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

c. Local-Level Advocacy and Activism

11. New York Nuclear Imagery

12. Bibliography

Annex 1. New York City Council Resolutions on Nuclear Weapons

Annex 2. Further Resources

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