The Chamber of Commerce of New York

Politics and War > Steps for Self-Protection

For New Yorkers’ air-raid shelter and nuclear-fallout needs, there was only one store – Wanamaker’s. The “Admiral” 3-way portable radio – in maroon, green or gray with golden trim – offered ten times the battery life of its competitors; it boasted a “built-in ‘Ferroscope’ antenna,” and a “‘Topside’ dial with new Civil Defense bands clearly marked.”

In 1950, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored a window display in Wanamaker’s two downtown stores – on Eighth and Liberty streets – educating passing shoppers about the sorts of products that would be required by an American family in a post-nuclear season.

For its members, the Chamber had more detailed advice. In 1950, the Committee on National Security circulated several informative brochures to help busy executives plan for an attack.


“Have you taken steps to safeguard your key records?” members were asked. Many corporate files were on microfilm in depositories in cities that were likely to become Soviet targets. “Imagine the tremendous difficulties that would be encountered in re-creating the essential records of a company, unless duplicates were available, and maintained in a location not liable to attack.”

A second guideline offered precautions to follow in case of an atomic attack.

“Where disorder exists the physical preparations for protection from an attack may be rendered useless,” members were informed. “Silence during an emergency should be stressed, in order to facilitate the issuance of commands. It is also important that employees be informed as to the best steps for self-protection in event of a surprise attack where there is neither an alert or warning.”

Among the other rules, it was noted that “A battery-operated radio may prevent the complete disruption of communications.” For this, and all other necessaries, it was Wanamaker’s or nothing: The Admiral Radio, after all, was only $37.95.


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