Top 10: Classified cities that have been hidden from the public
Recent history is full of secrets. For example, there is often a need to build a city away from the public eye for a number of reasons.
When a nation’s government needs to conduct secret tests or make sure they have a secure base for flights, they are more than capable of building what they need without bringing the fact to the public’s attention. From underground bases to full-scale cities hidden in the desert, here are 10 cities whose existence was once kept secret.
10. Oak Ridge Photo: The Guardian
It was 1943, World War II was in full swing, and the Allies were anxious to build the only thing they believed could end the war forever – the atomic bomb.
Located forty miles west of Knoxville, Tennessee, Oak Ridge was populated by thousands of workers, soldiers and scientists. You won’t find it on any map, however, because these men were hard at work on the Manhattan Project, one of the best kept secrets of World War II. Workers were kept in the dark about the true nature of the project and even required to take lie detector tests.
More than 242 square kilometers of land around Oak Ridge was purchased by the Federal Government to provide the necessary space to achieve the project’s goals, keeping it safe from enemy spies. Oak Ridge was built to process uranium ore for the production of nuclear weapons that would become prevalent in the 20th century.
Photo: The Guardian
This is another secret nuclear weapons-related site. City 40 (aka Ozersk) is the town where the Soviet nuclear program began in 1946. The city of about 100,000 inhabitants was better off and had a higher standard of living than anywhere else in the country. However, it has been removed from all maps, and the identities of those who lived there have been removed from all records.
The dark secret of this “closed city” is that several nuclear accidents occurred here, including one major accident that only Chernobyl could surpass in negative consequences.
This facility is still in operation, its citizens still work, the barbed wire fences still stand, and most of the Russian nuclear material is still stored here. Oddly enough, the citizens love the city and their way of life, even though they are well aware that they live in a “graveyard of peace.
Currently, citizens are allowed to leave if they want to. Yet many do not, wanting instead to spend their lives in one of the most radioactive places on the planet.
8. Los Alamos
Los Alamos, New Mexico, is well known for its role in the Manhattan Project. It was the main city of the project, it remembers it all.
Nicknamed “The Hill,” Los Alamos was the place for the atomic bomb, and all information about the city was kept in great secrecy throughout the war. The town was in isolation, and no one could tell friends or family what was being done here. There was only one mailbox for the whole town.
If a child was born here, the place of his birth was designated as “P. O. Box 1663. More than 5,000 people lived in this secret city, all working together on a project whose purpose almost no one fully understood.
The city was chosen for the project for a variety of reasons. It was the right size, most of it was owned by the Federal Government, and it was located in an area that Director J. Robert Oppenheimer knew well, as he had a ranch in the area. What later became a closed town was originally a boys’ school that was happy to be sold.
As 1942 drew to a close, construction on the site where Fats and Babe bombs were born was well underway, away from prying eyes and enemy spies.
This big secret city was also removed from the maps, its existence kept secret from the outside world, and it was used to create nuclear weapons. But this time it is about the Chinese.
According to some reports, the city boasted a population of nearly a million people. Others say the figure was closer to 100,000. However, since China’s population at the time exceeded 600 million, the higher figure may well be correct. But it is unlikely that China will ever reveal how many people actually lived in this city.
Construction of the city began in 1954. People from all walks of life lived in the city, all chosen by the Chinese government to make the country competitive against the United States and the Soviet Union for world domination.
Located in Gansu province in northwest China, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, the city grew in just four years, and it took another six years for China to become a nuclear power. In 1964 China successfully conducted its first desert weapon test, changing the face of world politics forever.
6. Hanford/Richland Photo: United States Department of Energy
Located in Washington State, it is the third and last of the secret cities involved in the Manhattan Project. Plutonium production was done here. Also in this city the U.S. continued its nuclear program during the Cold War.
This city is unique in that it was involved throughout the Cold War and was the most advanced of the three Manhattan Project sites in terms of its ability to produce energy. However, there were many difficulties in the early stages as the supply of energy decreased over time. This led to the nuclear reactor being found to be poisoned by xenon in which neutrons were absorbed, causing problems in the chain reaction needed to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
5. Wunsdorf Photo: The Guardian
Nicknamed “Little Moscow” and the “Forbidden City”, Wunsdorf became the Red Army headquarters in post-war East Germany. It was originally used as a Nazi base.
Wunsdorf was home to an estimated 60,000-75,000 people, most of them soldiers, which allowed the Soviets to establish power in East Germany for decades. This in turn allowed both regular echelons to be sent to Moscow and a military buildup should the Cold War become “hot.”
This city, founded by the German Empire in 1871, was home to Germany’s first mosque, used by Muslim prisoners, and later became the headquarters of the German armed forces in 1935.
These days, the city is a crumbling ruin. Behind the crumbling buildings is a monument to Vladimir Lenin, a clear reminder of the city’s legendary past.
4. Camp Century
Another remnant of the Cold War, this U.S. base was part of a secret military operation known as Project Iceworm. The site, located under Greenland, was originally a routine research facility. As the U.S. need to gain an advantage over the Soviets grew, so did America’s need for effective missile launch sites.
This underground city housed everything needed to sustain its population over time, from a movie theater to a chapel.
The purpose of the Iceworm Project was to use the vast underground tunnels of Camp Century to create a mobile nuclear launch pad from which to launch missiles at the Soviets from any of the dozens of launch pads located in this massive 4,000-kilometer network of tunnels.
3. Closed cities
The Soviet Union had many closed cities such as City 40, though not every one of them has become so famous.
Closed cities have a high level of secrecy. Some of them are well known, but they have areas closed to ordinary citizens, while others are closed completely. Some of them have now become quite ordinary cities, and they have even been chosen as host cities for the World Cup. Meanwhile, other cities are still vital to Russia’s national security.
They number in the dozens, and they are scattered throughout the Russian Federation and the former Soviet republics. In 2001, the Russian government recognized the existence of at least 42 closed cities.
Russia’s enormous size, pristine nature, and Soviet regime were the main factors that allowed many of these places to remain unknown for so long. Many believe that even today there may be cities that we know nothing about and may never know.
2. burlington bunker
Beneath the quiet town of Corsham, England, is another Secret City. This time, the purpose of the city is to survive the nuclear apocalypse, not provoke it.
In the event of nuclear war, 4,000 high-ranking members of the government can survive and wait out a nuclear winter in the huge 141,640-square-meter Burlington Bunker complex.
This underground city has everything from a broadcasting station to a hospital to an underground lake that provides the bunker with an ample supply of water.
If that’s not enough, the facility is equipped with its own railway line to provide quick and easy access in case of a “four-minute warning” (as it was called in Britain), which is how long it would take Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach Britain.
Decommissioned in 2004, the bunker has been opened to the public several times and in 2016 was even offered for sale at a relatively low price of £1.5 million.
Sarov is another “closed city” in Russia, which to this day is known as one of the country’s main nuclear arsenal producers.
However, the city made this list not because it is another closed city or because it has been hidden from the public for decades, and not even because it was removed from maps in 1947 and its existence was not recognized until the end of 1994.
Sarov (formerly known as Arzamas-16) is unique in that next to an industrial nuclear city is one of the country’s most prominent religious sites, an 18th-century monastery. This strange contrast has attracted much attention from the Russian Orthodox Church in recent years. It seeks to restore the temple, despite the restrictions that would be placed on pilgrims seeking to visit the shrine.
In this monastery lived one of the most famous Russian saints, the Reverend Seraphim, who is known for his teachings based on love and kindness, in stark contrast to the modern purpose of the city of Sarov.