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.