Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, January 31, 2014

We're f*ed: better build an underground shelter in your backyard

... I hate to admit when I was 7 or 8 years old, I sent off a request in the mail for the Civil Defense brochure on how to build a backyard bomb shelter.  They sent it to me (and it's long since been lost).  This copy of a student manual for teaching high school students "civil defense" is similar to what I remember from the brochure.

But these Titan Shelter television ads about how you need an underground shelter to protect yourself from weather disaster (as long as it doesn't include flooding) and terrorism might be more scary than the "public service" tv ad that motivated me to send away for that brochure 45 years ago.

It reminds me of after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks of how some guy in Connecticut, believing the news reports and that his house was a likely target covered his entire house in protective plastic sheeting.

The ad is scary.

Sadly, the rowhouse neighborhoods might be out of luck, not having large enough backyards for this contraption.  But the old Civil Defense manual does discuss creating community shelters.

Update: Suzanne, being more practical, suggests that rowhouse neighborhoods just need vertical rather than horizontal chambers.  And this reminds me of the trend in London whereby the rich purchasers of historic residential properties which can't be expanded, are building massive underground basement bunkers to get more space.  See "Billionaires' basements: the luxury bunkers making holes in London" from the Guardian.)

It's not unlike how automobile manufacturers promote personal transportation (the car) at the expense of mass transportation.

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At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually this is starting to happen in ritzy areas like Capitol Hill - where owners are not willing to go thru the payoffs in order to change a historic property or to add onto the footprint- they dig out basements- this has been accelerating and I predict that this will be the new "pop up" craze of the teens [ 2010-2020 ]

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I suggested this for years to someone I knew on the unit block of 6th St. SE. They never listened though. It also provides opportunity for a legal basement apartment unit.

But it really only works for houses with raised entrances and a pre-existing basement.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

on E street se they dug a huge basement where none had previously existed for a brick townhouse which was not a high & dry house. This is happeneing more and more because of the stringent and often dysfunctional processes for expanding in the historic district. It seems to be becoming easier to dig a basement than to replace windows now days.


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