That Time They Took The Sign Down To Renovate And Actually Put It Back Up

As has been seen in previous posts, this website’s mission is to chronicle the public Fallout Shelter in the United States and especially the signs that marked them, as they are being taken down at a steady rate.

Sometimes, however, strange things happen.

20 Hudson Street in Boston’s Chinatown is an older building that once housed the Golden Leaf Restaurant, and is well known to motorists from Interstate 93 (known in Boston as the Southeast Expressway) because of the large marquee on top that says “Welcome to Chinatown.”

In this 2014 Google Street View image, the restaurant is seen with the Golden Leaf signage still up.

To the left of the main door and above the red ramp, an exterior Fallout Shelter sign can be seen.

In 2016, they began renovating.

In this 2016 Google Street View image, the sign still hangs in it’s original spot.

While passing the building yesterday, it appeared that the renovations were complete, and the front facade had been either painted or the brick had been cleaned; as well, the name had been changed to Station KTV Karaoke. The Fallout Shelter sign was also gone, falling victim to time and renovation as they usually do….or so I thought until a second glance showed otherwise.

That’s right! The sign was not taken down and trashed, but moved to a different location, over to the left near the new lights above the ramp.

A second view of the building from a different angle

Next to the door, the shadow of the original sign can still be seen.

And below, the sign itself in it’s new spot.

It’s a little worse for wear after being taken down and put back up, but overall it’s still in great shape.

There are many theories available as to why those who either renovated the building, or own it, put the sign back up, but my best guess would be that they didn’t know the program was now defunct and they didn’t have to.

Either way, it’s a welcome change from the usual removal and destruction (or taking) of the signs and just one minor preservation of history, even for a short time.

Google Street View Images owned by Google and taken in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

All other photos taken on June 18, 2017 and are property of Fallout Five Zero.

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero


The Shadows at 20

The above photo, owned by the City of Boston Archives, shows the Claflin Building, located at 20 Beacon Street in Boston (seen to the right of the middle of the photo), sometime in the 1970’s or 1980’s. Next to the “Claflin Building” sign, 5 prominent marks from a removed exterior Fallout Shelter sign are seen.

Below are photos of the same building today


While the sign marks in the historical photo are gone, more remain inside the right side of the

doorway to the building, as seen above.

The building today is private residences, and was once a great example of how private buildings were licensed and used as public shelters.

(This is across from the Massachusetts State House, which became the first public Fallout Shelter in Massachusetts on November 5, 1962).

Live or work somewhere you know (or think) was once a shelter? Let us know.

Historical photo owned by the City of Boston Archives and used under Creative Commons licensing. No portion of the photo was altered in any way.

3 modern photos owned by Fallout Five Zero. 

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero

When The Sirens Rang Over Boston, Part 2

Back in May of 2016, we featured a post called When The Sirens Rang Over Boston, which featured a picture of the former and now non-extant controls of a Federal Signal Air Raid Siren, which were located at Boston Fire Department Engine 51 in Brighton.

As stated in the last post, Boston once had an extensive siren network (many of them on top of city fire stations). However, it was thought at the time that those were likely the last set of air raid siren controls in the city (or anything having to do with the sirens period, since the last siren itself one came down in 2000).

However, here in March of 2017, it was discovered that another set of controls exists at yet another fire station in Brighton (this one is on Chestnut Hill Avenue).


Unlike the last set of controls, there is no protective box over these; however, they are the exact same design as the others.

Historical photos show the siren still on top of the station into the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, although it is unknown exactly when it came down for good.

Either way, it was rare but welcomed to find it’s controls still in place.

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero


Rationing Art: The 1983/84 Mass College of Art Civil Defense Performance

Fallout Five Zero was contacted a few weeks ago by Gretchen Baer, a former Mass College of Art student, asking if Mass College of Art was still considered a Fallout Shelter.

Figuring she had seen one of this site’s original posts and was intrigued by the shelter as a former student, I relayed that none of the buildings at MCOA (nor any former shelter) were technically a “shelter” any longer, but just a building with an old sign on it essentially, as the program had stopped being funded years ago.

What she wrote me back has been one of the most interesting stories I have ever been told regarding a public fallout shelter.

In 1984 we did an art performance using the survival crackers from 1964. There were lots of tins of crackers, water of some kind, sanitary pads, and I don’t recall what else. We were ( illegally) living in that cellar for a couple years while attending art school. 

At the time, we named the space we used for our installation, “The Crackatorium” after the survival crackers. Our art piece was called “the Loaf”. We opened up the tins and filled the room with the crackers, then added water with a hose. People jumped in it until we created a giant loaf the size of a small car. We used the tins as drums for percussion during event. 

I found out recently Mass Art still calls the gallery The Crackatorium, as well as another gallery they call the South Crackatorium. Of course no one remembers why it’s called this, except a few of us.
I decided it’s time to revisit the subject and am considering an art show called “Crackatorium Revisited”. 

By the way, we ate some of those crackers, they were terrible!

She was then kind enough to provide some photos of the event.

I think the year was 1983. This is Karen with the crackers. That entire closet was full of the crackers. Janitors were sniffing around prior to event saying ” I smell F#cking crackers!” We were sweating it because the school had no idea what our performance actually entailed. The President of the school was seen at the closet door with a janitor getting ready to open ( a room full of crackers would have fallen on him, as we emptied them directly up from the basement into that closet). Luckily a friend managed to sweet talk him into not opening that door. 😀

Gretchen relays that should Mass College of Art allow a follow up performance, it may be in September 2017. If so, Fallout Five Zero will provide updates.

Above photos owned by Gretchen Baer. Text relayed as written by Ms. Baer and not changed in any way. 

FFZ would like to thank Ms. Baer for providing this story and the accompanying photos of the performance.

Have a similar shelter related story? Let us know.

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero


The Roxbury Papers: The list of shelters after the survey.

Some years ago, while researching Fallout Shelters, I came across a book that listed a history/annual report of the Roxbury section of Boston, which includes the Longwood Medical Area and Mission Hill. Unfortunately, the book was for library use only and now it is no longer available.

Within the book, there were several lists for Roxbury residents of local resources, including fire stations, police stations, and TV stations.

The book also included a list of approved Fallout Shelters in Roxbury. Many of these buildings still exist, but many have had their signs removed. Some buildings were demolished for redevelopment, and others rehabbed for the same reason (for example, the old Ferdinand Furniture building in Dudley Square).

One odd thing on this list was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum being listed as a shelter, and a listed capacity of 39, which would have been under the standard 50 minimum capacity for shelters. One other shelter on Dudley Street had a listed capacity of 34.

As well, the Boston Normal School on Huntington Avenue in Boston (one of the first posts on this site, and now part of the Mass College of Art) is listed on the sheet under its former designation, The State Teacher’s College, and has a listed capacity on the sheet of 1272. However, the sign itself, when it was revealed on the building, had a posted capacity of 923. No other building in the area was listed on the sheet with a 923 capacity, so likely the capacity numbers on the sheets were incorrect.

Anyways, the sheets are below. Any questions on building designations or further information available, contact me.

Roxbury Fallout Shelter List, Page 1
Roxbury Fallout Shelter List, Page 2
Roxbury Fallout Shelter List, Page 3

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero

The documents above were copied with permission from an unnamed book at the Boston Public Library reference section, main library, Copley Square. The PDFs are property of Fallout Five Zero.

A Fallout Shelter was a Naval idea

The Naval Air Station South Weymouth was an active naval air station in South Weymouth, Massachusetts (about 18 miles south of Boston) from 1942 until the late 1990’s. Since then, it has been sold and plans are to redevelop the site into a large residential complex.

Many of the original buildings are still present, but most it appears are slated to eventually be demolished. Many are in disrepair.

One building, which appears to be a power plant or other industrial type building, is sporting an interior Fallout Shelter sign on its outside.

On the top right of the building is also a Gamewell diaphone.

Interesting that the diaphone is present since the next building over is a wooden structure (possibly the fire station) with a Federal Signal siren.

The power plant type building was the only one seen with a shelter sign, but other buildings on base may have had them.

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero

All photos above taken in 2016 and are property of Fallout Five Zero. 

Fallout Shelters on Local TV

Fallout Shelter signs, as this website shows, are being taken down as time goes on, but still have a prominent place on walls and buildings throughout the United States.

On occasion they even appear on television; sometimes this is done purposely for dramatic effect (often in movies or TV shows having to do with nuclear disasters). Often though, they end up inadvertently in the background of a shot. Bill Geerhart’s “Conelrad Adjacent” site has an entire page dedicated to Fallout Shelter signs that make appearances in the background of movies and TV shows (very fascinating if you’ve never seen it).

Even locally, on news or local TV shows, such appearances can happen, and as you can see below, even appearances of former signs.

In the late 1970’s, WCVB-TV in Boston produced local TV shows/sitcoms. Two such shows were The Baxters and Park Street Under. Neither show ran for a long time, and while The Baxters eventually ended up becoming a national TV show, Park Street Under did not and ran only in the Boston area. It was about a fictitious bar near the real Park Street MBTA Station, and the workers and patrons who frequented it.

clip of the show’s opening shows lead character Augie (played by comedian and Massachusetts native Steve Sweeney) taking a parking ticket off his car near the bar. In the background, 6 familiar dots are on the wall behind him…


That’s right, the 6 sign marks from (most likely) an exterior Fallout Shelter sign after it was taken off of the building.

It took some time going through the remainder of the clip to see where this building was, as the bar did not really exist. However, it was finally discovered that the building was in fact 23 Beacon Street, and the sign marks still exist today, as seen in the Google Maps image below.


It is unknown when and why the sign was removed, and whether or not any interior signs remain, but that is 99% likely the 14″ x 20″ square of a former exterior Fallout Shelter sign.

Have another local show or example that you know a shelter sign appeared? Let us know.

Park Street Under screen shot from YouTube clip owned by Jacksonupperco and website “That’s Entertainment!”; show aired and owned by WCVB-TV Boston, a Hearst television station. 

Google screen shot from and owned by Google Maps. 

© 2017 Fallout Five Zero