The lasting impact of the Cold War in Naperville

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On Thursday, February 5, Naper Settlement held its monthly “Your Friendly Neighborhood Historian” presentation with their curator of history, Dr. Andrea Field. This month’s topic was: Cold Nights, Cold War, which examined the Cold War, its causes and effects, and the lasting impact it had on the nation and on Naperville, specifically. 

Duck and Cover, The Nike Missile Project, and Naperville’s Civil Defense

The presentation covered the Cold War at large, dating the peak to be between 1948 and 1953. During this time was the implementation of shelters, the idea of mass evacuation, and the slogan “Duck and Cover.” Dr. Field pointed out that these methods of safety were rendered somewhat ineffective with the later invention of the Hydrogen Bomb and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), as the blasts were much larger and the risk for fallout was far too threatening. 

Dr. Field talked about the idea of fallout, showcasing a few of Naper Settlement’s artifacts from the time such as a fallout tracker/calculator, an emergency record that was to be broadcasted over radio in case of a nuclear attack, and a few books on the topic of civil defense.

The Cold War had an impact on nearly every city in the country, and Naperville was certainly no exception. Dr. Field discussed the creation of Naperville’s own Civil Defense team, which ran drills and educated the community on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Field also discussed the Nike Missile Project, which had its C-70 site in what is now Naperville’s Nike Park Sports Complex, which was built in the 1970s after the missile program ended. The idea of Civil Defense in Naperville did not go away, Dr. Field pointed out the creation of Naperville’s Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the 1990s, both are groups that seek volunteers to step up in times of crisis. 

Naper Settlement’s “Your Friendly Neighborhood Historian” educates the community

Naper Settlement holds its “Your Friendly Neighborhood Historian” presentations on the first Thursday of the month covering various topics. The next event in the series: “What even is Agriculture?” will be held on March 14th in the Tavern. 

Check out more community events in the Naperville area.