Postwar suburbanization and the expansion of transportation networks are occasionally overlooked, but weirdly crucial facets of the military-industrial complex. While suburbs were largely marketed to the public via barely concealed racism and the appeal of manicured “natural” landscapes, suburban sprawl’s dispersal of populations also meant increased likelihood of survival in the case of nuclear attack. Highways both facilitated suburbs and supported the movement of ground troops across the continental United States, should they need to defend it (lest we forget that the legislation that funded much of the U.S. highway system was called the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956).
This is the sort of story that I love to read. Cold War infrastructure development? Count me in.
Both of these factors were at play in the unincorporated area of northern Virginia known as Tysons Corner, an area just far away enough from Washington to be relatively safe from nuclear attack but close enough to remain accessible. One of the region’s earliest military outposts was actually a piece of communications infrastructure: a microwave tower built in 1952 that was the first among several relays connecting Washington to the “Federal Relocation Arc” of secret underground bunkers created in case of nuclear attack.
God, but I love the ridiculous things that both sides built during the Cold War.