Stories of Secret Cities & Communities

A black and white photo of several woman standing in lanes with items of food in aisles behind them.
Several women pose by cash registers in a grocery store in Oak Ridge.



Three secret communities supported the top-secret Manhattan Project: Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Richland, Washington. These communities were a mix of military personnel and civilian employees from all different backgrounds. They formed the backbone of the Manhattan Project workforce with jobs ranging from cooking meals to working in grocery stores to designing atomic weapons. Each community became a beehive of activity that boasted of theaters, stores, schools, hospitals, and parks. By 1945 Richland’s population climbed from 250 to 15,000; Oak Ridge’s soared to about 75,000; and Los Alamos grew to 6,000 people. With limited connections to the outside world, residents of the secret cities built new communities and bonded over their collective sacrifices and shared patriotism. Read the articles below to learn about the joys and challenges of daily life in a secret city. 



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    Last updated: August 9, 2023

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    Manhattan Project National Historical Park
    c/o NPS Intermountain Regional Office
    P.O. Box 25287

    Denver, CO 80225-0287


    Hanford: 509.376.1647
    Los Alamos: 505.661.6277
    Oak Ridge: 865.482.1942

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