Who knew that Michigan had so many fallout shelters?

In the 50s and 60s, discussions about the potential need for fallout shelters were very common. After all, it hadn't even been a decade since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima (1945). In the aftermath, America set up the Federal Civil Defense Administration which worked to,

administer the national civil defense program and to coordinate military, industrial, and civilian mobilization.

Part of that coordination was educating the public with campaigns, classroom drills, and so on. As if hiding under a desk would somehow protect you. It seems silly now but, a big part of that campaign was pushing for fallout shelters. In fact, if you find yourself buying a home built in the 50s, you might want to check the backyard as homemade fallout shelters were also very common back then. Thank goodness we never needed them. You can read more about the history of fallout shelters in America here.

While we ended up not needing them, these fallout shelters still exist in America, including in Michigan. Are they still structurally sound and stocked with non-perishable food? Probably not.

However, if you find yourself walking around downtown Grand Rapids, for example, you might spot one of these signs:

Photo by Leon Bredella on Unsplash
Photo by Leon Bredella on Unsplash
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In fact, Russ S. recently posted a picture in the Facebook group Abandoned, Old and Interesting Places in Michigan of one of these signs he happened to stumble upon in Muskegon. Commenters quickly validated that what he was seeing was real and, apparently, common.

Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Midland still have tons of these out. Every public school building in Midland is equipped with a fallout shelter - Paige P. 

All of the old AT&T buildings throughout Michigan have these - Matt M.

Yep I seen some in Flint as well and when we were up in the Manistee area some of the buildings had them too... - Bill R. 

There is one in Oscoda in front of a bank. Every time I walked by I was hoping for a money fallout - JoAnna S. 
Don't we all, JoAnna.
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Now, there are a couple of different ways you can try to locate these probably defunct fallout shelters. You can do a quick search on Google. There are also individuals who have made their own maps pinpointing fallout shelters. Like this one that focuses on the Grand Rapids area specifically.

You can also spot many of these fallout shelter signs while walking around your downtown area or even from the Google Maps street view. Take a look:

At Least 10 Fallout Shelters You Can Still Spot In West Michigan

Who knew that there were still so many fallout shelters in West Michigan alone?

Wait, Would Michigan be a Nuclear Target?

From someone who doesn't dabble in the intricacies of war, from what I understand...no. Of course, the question has been raised in recent years given past tensions with North Korea and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But, an article from businessinsider.com shares a map with "high priority" targets that would most likely be attacked should something like this happen. Michigan is nowhere near any of them.

And, remember, during the Cold War, everyone was trying to prepare for the possibility of a bomb dropping at any moment. The abundance of fallout shelters isn't indicative of a higher threat.


Spotting these without knowing the history would definitely be a bit unnerving. But, since we're on the topic of things you can spot with Google Maps' street view, did you know that there are a number of surprising and interesting sculptures you can spot from the roads in Michigan? Here are just a few:

Weird Sculptures Spotted From Michigan Roads