September 2012
House Majority Votes in Favor of MP Park Act
Ask Your Congressmen to Support the Bill!
AHF Releases "Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan"
NYHS Exhibition: WWII & NYC
New B Reactor Exhibits Underway
Happy 70th Birthday, Oak Ridge!
Quick Links


In July 2011, the National Park Service reported to Congress that the Manhattan Project deserves to be included in the national park system. The Manhattan Project was one of the most significant undertakings of the 20th century and transformed American and world history, politics, economics, science and society. Who could disagree?


The Atomic Heritage Foundation has been working with the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to educate Members of Congress about the importance of establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The Manhattan Project park will be a valuable addition to the national park system, with its many lessons about science, technology, innovation, and human collaboration.


We are optimistic that the lame duck session of Congress will create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Thank you for your timely support in making the park a reality.

The B Reactor at Hanford, one of the sites that would be preserved and included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park

House Majority Votes in Favor of 

Manhattan Project Park Act


Rep. Doc Hastings

On September 19, Congressman

Doc Hastings (R-WA), the sponsor of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, brought the bill before the House under suspension of House rules, which is typically done when a bill is expected to meet little to no opposition and allows for a simple voice vote. On the House floor, Hastings spoke forcefully in favor of establishing the Park. He noted the incredible challenges the Manhattan Project scientists and workers had to overcome, explaining, "Start to finish, it was built in less than one year with technology that is not even proven." He highlighted the Park's educational potential, opening up these sites of historic and scientific significance "to schoolchildren and others to see what we did to preserve freedom."


Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) also spoke on the House floor--against the bill. Unfortunately, Kucinich distorted the purpose of the park, characterizing it as a "celebration" of nuclear weapons. As with other aspects of our contested history, the National Park Service will interpret the Manhattan Project in the context of the time and tell the story in its full complexity, both triumph and tragedy. The atomic bomb was an important turning point in mankind's history that we must understand and learn from as we face the world of nuclear weapons today and in the foreseeable future. 


When the time came for the voice vote, it appeared that the bill had enough votes to pass. However, Kucinich interrupted the vote and requested a roll call vote. While a voice vote does not record individual member's votes, a roll call vote does, and this may have persuaded a number of Congressmen to switch their vote from "yea" to "nay," especially in light of the upcoming election. While the bill did not pass on the House floor under suspension of House rules, the final vote of 237-180 met the test for a simple majority vote.


Chairman Doc Hastings, who has championed the legislation, vows to work towards enacting it into law before the end of this year. With impressive bipartisan and bicameral support, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is optimistic that the bill will succeed in the lame duck session.


Ask Your Congressmen to Support the Bill! 


Republicans and Democrats both split in support of the bill. Some Republicans voted against the bill for fiscal reasons, and some Democrats may have been persuaded by Kucinich's inflammatory rhetoric.


Kucinich has continued to speak out against the Park. In a press release after the bill vote, Kucinich asserted, "We should not diminish the brave soldiers who put their lives on the line in World War II by crediting the bomb with winning the war. Our soldiers won the war." He also published an editorial in the Huffington Post, "Drop the 'Bomb Park.'"


It is vital that you contact your Congressmen and urge them to support the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act! You can click here to see how every Congressman voted on the bill. If they voted against it, please contact them and ask them to change their vote! If they voted for it, please thank them for their vote, and ask them to ensure that this bill receives the highest priority consideration during the lame duck session. Congressional offices consider very seriously their constituents' wishes when voting on these kinds of issues.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has created an easy way for advocates of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to contact their Congressmen and ask for their support for the legislation. Simply click here, fill in the required fields, edit the letter as you wish, and your missive will be sent to your Congressmen's offices. If you prefer to contact them another way, you can find the contact information for every Congressional office here.

AHF Releases 
Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan

To coincide with the opening on October 5, 2012 of the New-York Historical Society's exhibition WWII & NYC, the Atomic Heritage Foundation has released a new expanded Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan. Following the guide, readers can discover top-secret sites in Manhattan where work on the first atomic bombs took place---in buildings hidden in plain sight.


The Manhattan Project is usually associated with Los Alamos, New Mexico where J. Robert Oppenheimer directed the scientific laboratory.  But the first offices of the Manhattan Project were actually in Manhattan, at 270 Broadway. So the Army Corps of Engineers called it the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) and the name "Manhattan Project" took hold.


Map highlighting Manhattan Project sites

Originally published as a shorter, black-and-white edition in 2008, the revamped guide gives a full-color, in depth look at ten sites that figured in the unfolding of the Manhattan Project. For example, the stately Woolworth Building was home to the Kellex Corporation, an entity of M. W. Kellogg, responsible for the massive gaseous diffusion plant known as "K-25" built in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


For a critical period of time, New York City was where high-grade uranium ore from the Belgian Congo was stored. Edgar Sengier, director of a mining company in the Belgian Congo, fled Belgium just before the Germans invaded. To keep the ore in the Congo out of German hands, he shipped nearly 1,250 metric tons of uranium ore--half the uranium stock available in Africa--to Staten Island. A crucial ingredient in making an atomic bomb, the ore was a fortuitous windfall for the Manhattan Project.

NYT reporter William L. Laurence & General Groves. Photo courtesy of the Patricia Cox Owen collection




In April 1945, Groves asked the managing editor of the New York Times, then headquartered in the Times Square Building, to provide William L. Laurence to write about the project. From his unique position, Laurence witnessed key historic moments, including the Trinity test on July 16, 1945 and the Nagasaki bomb on August 9, 1945. 


These stories and more can be found in Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan. The guidebook can be purchased individually or as part of our set of Manhattan Project guidebooks featuring New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington. You can purchase our guidebooks through our online store, through Amazon, or at selected bookstores.   


Publication of A Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan was funded thanks to grants from the Fred J. Brotherton Charitable Foundation, Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, and the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust


Exciting NYHS Exhibition: WWII & NYC


The New-York Historical Society will feature a fascinating exhibition, WWII & NYC, from October 5, 2012 through May 27, 2013. From shipbuilding to Fort Hamilton, New York City proved important to the war effort. And of course, NYC was home to the first headquarters of the Manhattan Project, giving the project its name.


NYHS VP of Exhibits Marci Reaven, AHF President Cindy Kelly, NYHS President Louise Mirrer, and Manhattan Project veteran Benjamin Bederson at the exhibition's opening gala


WWII & NYC includes a section on the Manhattan Project. A very big section: one of the artifacts is a 16.5-foot part of the Columbia University cyclotron! On January 25, 1939, in the basement of Columbia University's Pupin Hall, physicists used this cyclotron or "atom smasher" to replicate the recently discovered phenomenon of nuclear fission--the first time fission was witnessed in the United States. To read an amusing article on how the cyclotron had to be squeezed through NYHS's front doors, click here. The exhibition also includes an interactive map of Manhattan Project sites based on the map AHF developed for our Guide to the Manhattan Project in Manhattan.

Ben Bederson and Cindy Kelly with the Columbia cyclotron

NYU Professor of Physics Emeritus Benjamin Bederson 

gave a fascinating interview for the NYHS exhibit. Bederson, a NYC native, discusses being drafted into the Army, selected for the Manhattan Project, and being sent to Los Alamos to work on triggers and photographic testing. He was then sent to Tinian (where the streets were named after NYC streets), and kept a diary recording his thoughts of what he knew would be a world-changing event: the dropping of the first atomic bomb. 


New B Reactor Exhibits Underway  

BRMA President Maynard Plahuta


AHF President Cindy Kelly and Program Manager Alexandra Levy visited Hanford in September to work on exhibits for the B Reactor. Thanks to funding from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the City of Richland Hotel/Motel Tax Funds, and the B Reactor Museum Association (BRMA), AHF is overseeing the creation of two exhibits to be installed in the B Reactor. BRMA has been instrumental in designing the projects. One is an aerial model of the B Reactor site as it was in 1944. The model will use lights to show how water was pumped from the Columbia River into and out of the B Reactor for cooling. The second exhibit is a display of original graphite blocks as they are laid out in the core of the reactor.


AHF is also creating video vignettes to complement the new models and explore various aspects of Hanford's history, from the changes made to the B Reactor during the Cold War to personal stories. While in Washington, Kelly interviewed former Hanford Site employees as well as children of Manhattan Project veterans. These interviews will be featured in the vignettes and in our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website, set to launch this fall.

BRMA members Del Ballard, Gene Woodruff, and Hank Kosmata at the B Reactor to be interviewed for the vignettes.

Happy 70th Birthday, Oak Ridge!


On September 19, 1942, General Leslie R. Groves selected Oak Ridge, TN to be the top-secret site for enriched uranium production. He purchased Site X, 52,000 acres of land on the Clinch River. 70 years later, Oak Ridge celebrated its anniversary with cake, historical displays, speeches, a preservation award, and a free showing of "Fat Man and Little Boy." Oak Ridge historian William J. Wilcox, Mayor Tom Beehan, and Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott presided over the cake-cutting ceremony. To view photos from the party, click here.


Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott, Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, and Bill Wilcox cutting the birthday cake with Jeanie Wilcox at his side. 
Photo courtesy of the City of Oak Ridge

In other Oak Ridge news, it was recently announced that the historic Alexander Inn, where key Manhattan Project scientists and officials such as General Groves, Secretary of War Stimson, Oppenheimer, and Fermi stayed, will be restored and transformed into an assisted living center for seniors. Considering how close the building came to condemnation a few years ago, this is a real victory for historic preservation.

The Alexander Inn

Thanks very much for your interest in the Manhattan Project and preserving its history for future generations. 


Your contributions help us continue to work on preserving the Manhattan Project's historic sites and creating a national historical park. 


Thank you very much for your support!



Atomic Heritage Foundation