In the race to develop the atomic bomb that would end World War II, scientists toiled in instant cities hidden from maps and public view. Our editor dives into the world of experimental reactors and prefab housing to revisit a time when secret places could really stay secret.
Imagine you work in a city that isn’t on any map, in a house that has no postal address. You go to work each day not really knowing the purpose of what you are doing or how it fits into the jobs of the thousands of other people going to work each day around you.
You don’t talk about where you live or what you do with anyone on the outside—and even on the inside the work conversations are kept within your own department. You always erase the blackboard after a meeting.
The roof of the building you are working in is painted black so it can’t be bombed in the dark. To enter your city of residence, you must show identification to be waved through one of seven gates by a guard. The entire city is fenced, topped with barbed wire and guard posts, and nobody enters who is not a government employee or an immediate family member. Your son plays on the high school football team, but there are no names on any of the jerseys.
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