Nope, the Manhattan Project was not so secret

Nope, the Manhattan Project was not so secret

Of course everyone kept Los Alamos a secret, 

including patriotic newsman, right?

From The Atlantic:

The Manhattan Project was, the director of the Office of Censorship once said, the "best-kept single secret of the war," as The New York Times put it in a piece that ran on August 9, 1945, the day of the bombing of Nagasaki. 

And how remarkable this secrecy was! With some 130,000 people involved in building the bomb, how is it possible this story didn’t leak out?

Well, as nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein documents frequently at his invaluable site Restricted Data, the secrecy of the Manhattan Project was not all it is cracked up to be. Wellerstein says that the fact that "the Army was working on a new super-weapon that involved atomic energy" was something of an "open secret" in Washington prior to the bomb’s use, and, moreover, there were numerous press reports that gave information about the project. 

But there is one that stands out, Wellerstein writes, and that is a report from The Cleveland Press, by columnist John W. Raper, who happened upon the clandestine city of Los Alamos, a year and a half before bombs would fall on Japan. 

"Forbidden City" the headline proclaimed. It continued: "Uncle Sam’s Mystery Town Directed by ‘2d Einstein.’" 

The story was introduced by a brief editor’s note: "Jack Raper, Press columnist, has returned to Cleveland following a vacation in New Mexico, where he found the following story." 

And then the reporting began: 

"SANTA FE, N.M. New Mexico has a mystery city, one with an area from eight to 20 square miles, according to guesses. It has a population of between 5000 and 6000 persons, not more than probably half a dozen of whom can step outside of the city except by special permission of the city boss. He grants permission only in the most exceptional circumstances and under the most rigid conditions. And it is even more difficult for a non-resident to enter than for a resident to leave."

Read the rest: The Time a Cleveland Newspaper Divulged the Manhattan Project, The Atlantic>>

– If you’re interested in learning more about the supposed secrecy of the atomic bomb project during the 1940s, I suggest you take a look at this post by Alex Wellerstein: Narratives of Manhattan Project secrecy, Restricted Data. The Nuclear Secrecy Blog>>

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