“As long ago as 1915, two Zeppelins crossed the English Channel, dropped bombs on Yarmouth and nearby villages. Thus was born the horrible art of air attack on civilian populations,” stated the editorial for the January 1942 “Civil Defense Reference Number” Architectural Forum, which continued: “Now, for the first time, the U.S. is in a world war where the non-combatant is not in the completely safe role of the man behind the man behind the gun. There is no assurance that anyone is far enough back of the lines to avoid all danger.”
This was pretty heavy news for a nation that prided itself on its natural protective sea boundaries. But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and German U-Boat sightings along the East Coast, where real threats to public safety. What’s more Hitler was millimeters away from developing long range bombing capabilities.
The Architectural Forum believed that architects, engineers and their “colleagues in building” had an obligation to build for defense. This special issue is a sobering reminder of the fragility of the human race and a damning indictment of the current state of a world where people still bomb cities and their civilians.
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