Posts Tagged ‘coldwar’

Welcome To The United States; A Cold War Tourist Map For Soviet Visitors

Governments and authorities like maps. They’re a useful way of clearly saying this is mine, that is yours. They’re also useful for saying where you can and more importantly, where you can’t go. This is all too evident in a surprising map of where Russian visitors to the US were permitted to visit during the 1950s.

In the mid 1950s America and Russia were in the middle of the game of oneupmanship, with added nuclear weapons, that was the Cold War. Despite the uneasy detente between the two countries, if you were one of an elite group of Soviet citizens you were actually able to visit the United States. But not all of it. Large swathes of the US were closed to prospective Soviet tourists.


What makes this map interesting is not so much the slice of relatively recent world history that it portrays but more of the questions it poses. What were the criteria that were used to determine where a Cold War era Soviet visitor could and couldn’t go?

You can make some educated guesses. It’s not unreasonable to assume that major ports, coastlines, industrial areas and military and weapons areas were off limits. But that doesn’t cover the full scope of the open and closed areas.

Over at BoingBoing, there’s speculation that this was as much a tit-for-tat set of restrictions as it was a set of restrictions based on what the US Government didn’t want Soviets to see. As Cold War era historian Audra Wolfe, the author of the Slate article on this map, notes

The main premise is ‘strict reciprocity’. X% of Soviet coasts are off-limits, therefore X% of US coasts are off-limits, too.

Photo Credits: Rockefeller Archive Center, Item record: Rockefeller Family Archives (III) Record Group: 4 Nelson A. Rockefeller – Personal, Series: Washington D.C Files, Subseries: O.9 Special Assistant to the President Declassified Materials, 1954-1956, 1969 Box: 4 Folder 94.
Written and posted from the British Library, London (51.53004, -0.12765)

Deliciousness: bacon, Protect and Survive, outing the paleotards, Fake Carol and crop circles

It’s been almost two weeks since one of these posts; I’ve been pretty much conferenced out, with FOWA London taking up a sizeable chunk of last week and the AGI’s GeoCommunity mopping up any spare time the week before that.

The hallmark of any successful tech conference is appallingly bad wifi which, despite the best protestations of the conference organisers, always buckles under the strain around 30 minutes into the opening keynote. All of which has meant that my Delicious account has been on a bit of a diet recently, but here’s what did make it through the wifi …

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous