New York City has quietly begun removing some of the corroding yellow nuclear fallout shelter signs that were appended to thousands of buildings in the 1960s, saying many are misleading Cold War relics that no longer denote functional shelters.
The small metal signs are a remnant of the anxieties over the nuclear arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union, which prompted U.S. President John F. Kennedy to create the shelter program in 1961 in cities across the nation. The signs, with their simple design of three joined triangles inside a circle, became an emblem of the era.
The removal of some of the signs from public school buildings, which has not previously been reported, is intended to partly reduce this potential confusion, according to the city’s Department of Education.
Michael Aciman, a department spokesman, confirmed that any designated fallout shelters created in the city’s schools are no longer active and said that the department is aiming to finish unscrewing the signs from school walls by roughly Jan. 1.