Thursday, March 23, 2006

New York Soviet Socialist Republic

News broke on Monday that a Cold-War-era fallout shelter has been discovered within the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge (see Sewell Chan’s “Inside the Brooklyn Bridge, a Whiff of the Cold War,” from The New York Times).

The bunker held a stockpile of supplies intended to keep some part of the local population going in the event of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. According to the Times, they included “water drums, medical supplies, paper blankets, drugs and calorie-packed crackers — an estimated 352,000 of them, sealed in dozens of watertight metal canisters and, it seems, still edible.”

Boxes were stamped with dates including 1957 (when the USSR launched Sputnik), and 1962 (during the Cuban Missile Crisis).

The location is being kept secret, but if you want to relive the Cold War yourself, check out some of the city’s other Soviet-esque sites. As we’ve discussed before, the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street) may have been an inspiration for
Stalinist architecture, and Manhattan has not one but two Red Squares, one even bearing a monumental Lenin.

You can buy Soviet gifts at Russian Souvenirs (227 14th Street between Second and Third Avenues) or Revolution Books (9 West 19th Street between Fifth Avenue and Union Square).

And there are also a number of Soviet-themed bars, like
KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street), Pravda (281 Lafayette Street near Prince), Eastern Bloc (505 East Sixth Street at Avenue A) or Siberia (356 West 40th Street). In Brooklyn, check out Sputnik (262 Taaffee Place in Bedford Stuyvesand) and the Russian Baths of New York (1200 Gravesend Neck Road), featuring a café with a Soviet hockey theme.

One Soviet-esque footnote: We somehow managed to miss it but,
Cafe Trotsky (192 Orchard at Houston) closed late last year. Via Eater, the café’s story is told in “Bitter Brew,” by its owner Michael Idov.

(Photo: John Marshall Mantel for
The New York Times)

No comments: