Hiroshima & Twin Towers

Matthew Farish suggests that divisions between suburbanization and urbanization led to both spatial containment and also, due to increasing paranoia about atomic attacks, proposals to adjust the fabric of cities. Because the United States had a high urban to non-urban ratio, there was growing fear that it would be a target of atomic attacks. When Farish says, “Central cities, for many commentators, were spaces of blight, repositories of extreme cultures, classes and races, threatened from above and within,” he builds on this idea. Central cities were sources of “extreme cultures, classes and races” because of white flight: people of various European ancestries moved from racially mixed urban areas to suburbs, regions that were mostly racially homogeneous. Additionally, Farish states that urban cities were “threatened from above and within” because they were overpopulated, with mostly racially mixed people. This resulted in many scientists and political commentators arguing that atomic disasters would affect many people and that decentralization would be the most effective solution. However, some people believed that the cost of distributing towns would be too damaging to American military tactics. This growing paranoia of the attacks represents a broader fear of America losing its “culture of victory.” America, eager to be dominant, did not want to be seen as declining.

Farish also discusses an obsession with urban disaster during the Cold War, resulting from images of Hiroshima. Similarly, the imagery of the falling Twin Towers has stood as a powerful symbol for post 9/11 United States. Many Americans that lived during 9/11 remember seeing the image on TV, and it has stuck with them throughout their lives as something that evokes fear and sadness. The growing sense of fear is similar to the paranoia of a nuclear attack that resulted in suburbanization during the Cold War. While the fear of nuclear attacks led to movement into suburbs, fear following 9/11 led to increased security measures. The image of the twin towers represents terrorism and danger in America, while also showing that America will remain a strong nation. Many images, in fact, depict the twin towers with the American flag draped around them, behind them, or somewhere in the image. Thus, in a way, the image also represents patriotism.


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