Images of Destruction Fuel a Fear of City Targets

As argued in “Disaster and Decentralization: American Cities and the Cold War,” by Mathew Farish, the devastation left by the atomic bombs in WWII left a lasting impression on the world and on the American people. Perhaps more so than the human element of loss, the people of the United States worried of a threat that could decimate an entire city. Farish argues that Americans “It was precisely the domestic geography of Cold War risks that led to the scientific planning schemes – some more drastic than others – designed to order and manage urban spaces while concurrently maintaining the various symbolic distinctions between central city and suburb” (Farish). This quote from embodies Farish’s belief that the movement of white families into the suburbs was a result of Cold War anxieties. The suburbs represented relative safety from a nuclear attack compared to the vulnerability of an urban area. They also represented the prospect of a separation between the privilege of white nuclear families and the socioeconomic struggles of those of color.

The images of Nagasaki and Hiroshima filled the heads of Americans with nightmarish scenes of annihilated cities in the US. This fear fueled an urban phobia that increased the attractiveness of suburban life. The attacks on 9/11 gave Americans an actual picture of what a domestic tragedy looks like, thus encouraging a new series of imaginative predictions for possible destructive scenarios. Following the fall of the Twin Towers, an anxiety for a new enemy created an air of uncertainty around metropolitan areas with a high concentration of possible targets. Popular culture included fictional doomsday situations focused around major cities, and modern containment rhetoric praised the prospect of the American way of life, which could once again be found in the suburbs.


One thought on “Images of Destruction Fuel a Fear of City Targets”

  1. I completely agree with your analysis. I like how you draw similarities between the emotions provoked by both the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the images of the Twin Towers falling during the 9/11 attacks. Like you mentioned, after these two events, people fled the urban cities to the suburbs, where they found safety and comfort. The cities were major targets, and people feared to stay in there.

    I wanted to draw a connection between suburban areas and families. Like you mentioned, people did find safety and comfort in the suburbs, as the suburbs were not likely targets for foreign attacks. While I was reading this, I drew a connection to May’s reading, where May talked about how important family was and how family served as a bastion of safety. Both family and the suburbs proved to be bastion of safeties during both the Cold War, and after the 9/11 attacks. This serves to show how one’s home (family and location) is where people generally tend to flock towards during uncertain times.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s