The Horrifying Hollywood Movie That Determined U.S. Nuclear Policy

Operation Ivy Provoked Such Controversy That Future Nuclear Test Films Were Kept Secret From the Public

On a hot June day in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat down in the cool confines of a White House screening room to watch a horrifying movie. Produced by government-backed Hollywood filmmakers, it recounted the recent test of an American thermonuclear bomb in the South Pacific. Part documentary, part disaster pic, Operation Ivy featured Hollywood actor Reed Hadley and footage of the complete annihilation of a Pacific island as large as Washington, D.C.

Eisenhower was stunned. But there was one thing he knew for sure after watching it: all …

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Waltzing With Polar Bears | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Waltzing With Polar Bears

The Unexpected Joy of Viewing Photos From a Forgotten German Fad

Combing through photographs at flea markets brings its own particular thrill. The act carries a voyeuristic delight, akin to reading a stranger’s diary or listening in on someone else’s confession.

Every …

When Sewers Were New, Clean, and Amazing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Sewers Were New, Clean, and Amazing

Archival Photographs Reveal an Engineered Labyrinth of Civic Optimism

Below our city streets lies an ad-hoc world of subterranean tunnels and pipes. The oldest are brick and concrete sewers that once carried waste streams in one direction, rainfall overflow …

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’

Postwar Suburban Homes With Big Windows and Patios Sold the Idea of Leisure—and Air Conditioning

Think of postwar America, and what often comes to mind is a white, heterosexual family, pictured in a domestic suburban environment. You can tell this family lives in the …

Paradise’s Charred Remains | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Paradise’s Charred Remains

A Photographer and a Writer Document Five Generations of Family Mementos After the 2019 Camp Fire

On November 8, 2018, endless images streamed from the Camp Fire in my hometown of Paradise, California. A single day generated thousands of pictures that filled the world with a …