This Is Only a Test tells the history of nuclear age urban planning, civil defense, and continuity of government programs in one of the nation's most critical Cold War targets: Washington, D.C. Spanning the years 1940 to 1962, This Is Only a Test uses Washington?s often conflicting identities - capital, city, and symbol - to explore the connections between the attempted dispersal of vital government offices to distant suburban sites, the District's Office of Civil Defense, and the creation of the secretive Federal Relocation Arc. Measures to protect the federal government resulted in a widening gap between capital and city, while the failures of the city's local program symbolized federal ambivalence toward civil defense. This Is Only a Test shows how the Cold War affected Washington and its racially divided population.

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