Behind the doors of John F Kennedy’s nuclear bunkerby Shane O'Brien
On a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Florida stands a relic to former president John F. Kennedy and the nuclear scare of the Cold War.
That relic is known as the Kennedy Bunker and was one of the president's last lines of defense if Soviet Russia ever used Cuba to launch a nuclear strike on the United States.
Built amid the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the nuclear shelter was designed to be a command base for the Commander-in-Chief should a Soviet attack ever come to fruition.
The shelter, encased in metal, is located on Peanut Island, a small, 79-acre island about 20 minutes off the coast of the Sunshine State and is accessible only by boat.
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The fallout shelter was built close to Kennedy's family compound in palm beach in the event that a nuclear bomb hit the United States while he was on vacation. The shelter was built in almost total secrecy, away from the prying eyes of the public, according to Palm Beach State professor Ginger Pedersen.
"Nobody knew they built this here in '62. That was pretty much a secret that was not covered in any of the local papers," Pederson said.
The clandestine shelter would have kept Kennedy safe during a nuclear fallout, but it wouldn't have survived a direct hit.
For 13 days in October 1962, Soviet Russia looked poised to launch a nuclear attack on America, which would be located just 90 miles from American soil. Any attack would take just ten minutes to land, resulting in the need for presidential shelters.
Ultimately, the shelter was never needed as a Soviet attack never came with both the USSR and the USA de-escalating in the nuclear arms race.
The shelter, therefore, served as a museum until 2017 when the operator's lease ended and the Port of Palm Beach took it over.
The 1,800 square-foot space has fallen into severe disrepair and suffers from termite damage and mold among other things.
The Port of Palm Beach estimates that it will cost roughly $4.5 million to fully restore the shelter to its former glory and will decide whether or not to renovate it at the end of the month.
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