American cities after the nuke: 1950s tabloid illos

Jake sez, "An old copy of 1950s tabloid Pageant included some amazing illustrations of what an American city would look like after an atomic bomb blast. They're both somewhat chilling and somewhat hilarious."

Amazing 1950s Illustrations of American Cities Destroyed by A-Bombs (Thanks, Jake!)


  1. I get the “chilling” for sure, but I’m completely missing the “hilarious.” The illo of the infant with the swaddled head reminded me of a scene in “Testament” (PBS’s film about post-nuke life that’s far superior to “The Day After”) in which a mother lifted her naked child from a water-filled sink and it becomes apparent that the child is bleeding profusely from its rectum.

  2. Initial reaction to the one featured in this post is that it reminds me of the aftermath in the game Rampage.

  3. Yes, I guess Cory means “hilarious” in the sense that the bombs depicted would be very weak by modern standards, and maybe even by mid 1950s standards. But as Frankieboy mentions, the illustrators were probably basing this on the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    1. I think that’s what he means too, but I still find it annoying. Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s bombs were not firecrackers. They turned people to ash in a heartbeat and left behind nothing but shadows on concrete. And those were the fortunate ones. 

      Not Not Not Hilarious… even somewhat. I have a hard time believing that anyone who has made a trip to either of those cities would be able to even use a word that implies “humor” without some massive amount of cognitive dissonance at work. 

  4. I wonder what portion of white flight from urban to suburban areas can be attributed to fear of the bomb.

  5. As someone pointed out above the bombs in question would be very small compared to what would be available by the end of the decade and widespread by the mid 60’s. However, by the mid 1970’s bombs started getting a little smaller. Yields over one megaton were not uncommon at one time, but now a typical large nuke is 300 to 400 kt.

    1. Major targets would be receiving multiple warheads, however. Probably with overlapping blast coverage.

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