1955 NV A-bomb tests as seen from dowtown LA


“Photo shows another version of how the atomic bomb blast in Nevada looked over Los Angeles from the roof of the Statler Hotel. Note the sharpness of City Hall (right background), the Richfield Building (right foreground) and other buildings in the area. Ridge of mountains is also sharply outlined. Photo dated: March 7, 1955.”

Did anyone else have no idea that early Navada A-Bomb test could be seen from LA? Because this is crazy new news to me, and these 6 photos are just insane. I especially love this guy pointing, as if you could miss it, and this one, which looks like a sceen out of some old scifi end-of-the-world flick. Rodney Hoffman found these by looking up “bomb nevada” in the LA Public Library Photo Archive. Is there anyone reading this who was in LA in 1955 and remebers seeing this? Or perhaps has family members who were? This would be an awesome story to hear firsthand.
[Thanks Xeni!]

9 thoughts on “1955 NV A-bomb tests as seen from dowtown LA”

  1. If you have ProQuest or go to the public library, you can read the stories of the day. In one of the photos, the man pointing is reporter Jack Smith of the Herald. Yes, that Jack Smith.

  2. Dude!
    This photo is superimposed!
    The cloud diameter from L.A. would have been MUCH smaller. That bubble was from at least ten miles from Trinity Site.
    Also, the signature “V” anamoly at the top was was due to a film anamoly. A VERY DEAD giveaway.
    Come on! basic high school physics would prove it!
    Distance, Curvature of the earth etc.
    If anything, it would have been the black plume that could have been from L.A. in the darkness. Only the sound would have been heard if that was possible.
    According to the Oppenheimer papers, the blast was barely heard as a stick if dynamite in Tuscon and other areas in Arazona and the light only lit the horizon. Within ground zero, it was different and it lit the sky like you show it.
    Now go to L.A. the distance is great. If a sight of the mushroom cloud was visable, it would prove that the earth was flat.
    Though I was not even a glimmer in my mothers yye whrn it occured. My physics training says that that the photo is a fraud.
    Prove me wrong and I will retract my statements.


  3. I think the photo is likely real. If the light lit the horizon in Tucson, it could have this larger glow in LA. Tucson is twice the distance from the test range that LA is. Don’t believe me? — Search for “Yucca Lake, NV” on Mapquest and zoom out. This also may be, instead of the actual blast, simply a lingering dome of particulate matter high in the atmosphere generated by the bomb blast that would have reflected moonlight, starlight, etc. (as in after a volcanic eruption). Depending on the position of the moon (i.e. in western sky) it could have reflected back to LA but Tucson could have been in the shadow of the dust cloud, therefore no reflection. The V could very well have been a flaw in the original film or development.

  4. Additional info why this might be real — this 3/7/55 test (code named Turk) at 43 kilotons was the second largest yield ever tested up to that date, so the Oppenheimer papers reference may have been for a similar but much smaller test on a different date. Most 1955 tests were a fraction of this yield (1-8 kilotons).

  5. That bubble also would have had to been pretty damn bright to have that kind of contrast with the night sky with all of the forground light… it is most certainly a fake….

  6. I have a really hard time believing that an entire series of photos in the public archives, of very notworthy and written about event would be fake. These photos weren’t just released, they’ve been sitting at the library for over 50 years, someone just noticed them and pointed them out. Read the discriptions on the other photos, lots of talk about how half the horrizon was as bright as day. I’m not doubting their validity at all.

  7. The photos are real–both the Times and the Herald covered the stories. Plenty of people are around–I just asked Charles Perry at the Times about the tests and he remembered getting up to watch–lots of people did.
    The tests weren’t secret.

  8. Raised in Oak View, CA, about 50 miles north of L.A., my dad used to get us up early in the morning and have us look east. Yes, there was indeed a bright flash in the sky, similar to a sunrise. We got up early to view several of these tests. At my age then, I would rather have slept in.

  9. I agree that you’re definitely not seeing the actual cloud there, what you’re seeing is a general lighting of the atmosphere. Ever drive into a city at night, where you can see the sky glow before you ever actually see any part of the city? Same effect.

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