Taking Cover in a Former Nuclear Missile Silo
In the early 1960s, faced with the imagined scenario of total nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a dozen intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos were constructed in the Adirondacks in upstate New York near the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. The crisis lasted less than two weeks, and because the silos didn’t work very well anyway and had a lifespan of around three years, most were decommissioned by 1964.
The military didn’t know what to do with the silos, which were vast, cavernous underground structures that went 185 feet down and housed Air Force squadrons. They donated the silos to different counties, who didn’t know what to do with them either. So they remained abandoned for more than 50 years.
Eventually, people like Australian architect Alexander Michael came along. He snatched one up near the Plattsburgh base in 1996 for $160,000 and has spent the years ever since plunking down more than $300,000 and restoring his silo to its original glory, while making it a part-time home along the way. He’s got a full kitchen, sleeping quarters and even the original launch control console to tinker with.