A map of cities and the major defense companies that were headquartered there | Still from Blue Sky Metropolis Episode 2

The Big Chill: The Cold War Fuels Business and Anxiety

This episode traces how The Cold War and Pentagon dollars fund the explosive growth of modern Los Angeles.  The end of World War II meant massive unemployment for the millions of workers in Southern California who built the aircraft that helped win the war, but a series of world events changed all that, creating a permanent wartime economy.  First, the Soviets successfully tested an atomic bomb.  Next, Mao Tse-Tung created a second Communist empire with his People’s Republic of China.  Finally, the Korean War marked the first communism/capitalism military showdown as the U.S. committed troops and armaments to defend South Korea from Soviet and Chinese-supported North Korea.  Within a decade, the Cold War workforce in Southern California climbed to more than a quarter-million; by 1953, there were 25,000 aerospace engineers working in Los Angeles.  Pentagon dollars fueled innovation with the assembly of first-generation jet fighters, bombers and Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) This episode also explores the personal cost to the family of test pilot Milburn Apt through the memories and reflections of his daughter, Sharman Apt Russell.  Walt Disney introduced the peaceful exploration of the cosmos with his “Man in Space” specials, that became among the highest-rated TV programs of the ‘50s.  But his chief on-camera spokesperson was Wernher Von Braun, a former Nazi who designed V-2 rockets Hitler that were launched on Great Britain.  He embodied the dichotomy between progress for peace and progress for war.

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