At first, missile silos were set up as above ground launch facilities, completely out in the open. But then came the Cold War, and after the successful orbit of Sputnik in 1957, the U.S. started to feel a bit uncomfortable with the entirety of their weapons just sitting there, visible from space and being tripped over by drunken farmers. So they were all relocated to where they'd be safe from a nuclear blast and out of sight: underground.
And we all know that, right? The missile surfacing from beneath the army base is a war movie trope. The surprising thing, though? There's often no base.
Just two air force guys sitting underground and drinking Jim Bean.
At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. had an estimated 1,000 Minuteman Missiles hidden in silos across the country. But don't worry; fewer than 500 even remain active today.
Where Are They Hiding?
Well, if we knew that they'd have to kill us. But we know they were literally everywhere, and we've got proof: After the Cold War, silos that were emptied were just left to the elements, no longer serving any purpose. But recently, abandoned bases have been appearing on the real estate market. For a missile base that cost the U.S. government three million dollars to build in the 1960s, you can snatch one up for as low as $100,000 and live in it.
"Rave in John's missile silo!"
Whether or not you want to spend your free time plotting the death of charming British men in tuxedos is entirely up to you. The methods of camouflage vary:
"What a strange-but-totally-innocuous mural."
The government likes their privacy and they go to great lengths to keep it. But not all of their secret facilities are located in labyrinthine cave systems, inside volcanoes or hovering in a cloud bank. They have thousands of perfectly normal buildings spread all over the country that they use to conduct their secret operations.
They're usually grouped in purposefully pedestrian-looking office buildings, discreetly unlabeled and carefully designed to be utterly forgettable. And we're not talking about the DMV here. These are serious agencies: The Fort Meade cluster in Florida is the largest of these facilities, and it's the headquarters of the NSA. The area, sitting right out there in the open, is so top secret that if you approach it, your GPS will send you into a series of U-turns thanks to the government jamming the signal.
If you take a picture near one of these buildings, uniformed guards will emerge--oftentimes from concealed security stations--to ask you for your personal information and to delete the pictures from your camera. Keith McCammon experienced this first hand when he accidentally photographed an unmarked office building which turned out to be the location of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Where Are They Hiding?
No, that isn't a Wal-Mart behind this dude's farm. It's a [REDACTED] office.
We all know how you spot government hideouts: Be on the lookout for black SUVs, barbed wire and help wanted signs for local restaurants and coffee houses. Wait... what?
The "top secret" part of the U.S. government employs over 845,000 people, and when they want to recruit new workers, they can't really put an ad on Monster.com for super-spies. Instead they put out signs like the one above: "TS" means "top secret" and "SCI" stands for "Sensitive Compartmented Information." Only people with top secret security clearances can attend these normal-seeming "job fairs," which probably explains why nobody has ever, ever gotten a job out of one.
Life on the street is tough, but what options does a homeless person have when the busy, unforgiving city is becoming too much for them to handle? Why, they just go underground! Underground: Where no cops or street-punks will hassle you. Just mole rats and the lava people...
And the odd Morlock.
Where Are They Hiding?
Beneath the casinos and the flashing neon lights of the Las Vegas strip lies a labyrinth of tunnels that were initially built to protect the city from flash floods. But now they've become a place where the homeless live sheltered from the weather, rent free.
This "apartment" would cost you $1,200 a month on the surface.
There are over 200 miles of tunnels under the city and any trip down into them reveals a vast network of homeless shelters. We aren't talking cardboard boxes here, either: They have some pretty sophisticated homes.
Does he really count as homeless at this point?
New York City also has abandoned tunnel systems that the homeless have found shelter in. The AmTrak Freedom Tunnel was built in the 1930s but, as it served no real purpose, it was quickly abandoned. For over 30 years, it acted as a shelter for huge tribes (that's what you call groups of hobos, right? Or is it a gaggle?) of homeless people. But it wasn't just sleeping in the dirt: They formed complex societies complete with mayors and elaborate social structures. They were so resourceful that many of them even siphoned water and electricity from the city and built ad-hoc underground, multi-story homes out of whatever was available.
Some of these hobo-houses contain all the comforts of the above-ground world.
Others are... less resourceful.
These "tribes" were the inspiration for both a book and a documentary called Dark Days, which sadly revealed that the Freedom Tunnel was eventually emptied out by AmTrak. But don't be sad: There are many, many more abandoned underground tunnels in NYC for you to get murdered in.
For more more things you most definitely missed, check out 7 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Works of Art and 5 Species That Seem to be Trying to Take over the Earth.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.23.10) to see just what's hidden in the Internet.
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