Air raid sirens still dot LA, relics of the Cold War that last sounded in 1985--they were common sights on street corners (and still are if you know where to look), but better hidden were the 16 Nike anti-aircraft missile sites that used to surround the LA basin. The missile sites were all deactivated by the 1970s and one former site has been preserved in the hills above Encino. But if Mad Max-style ruins are more your thing, US Army site LA-88 in Chatsworth might be for you: "Its underground bunkers, burned-out structures and rusty construction equipment now seem reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie set," says the Daily News. The hitch? The site isn't really open to the public. And you probably run the risk of getting shot or blown to pieces, since it's used as a training ground for the LA Bomb Squad and SWAT team.
The site is located in the Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park, and is managed by the LAPD, but because it's located on top of Oat Mountain, it hasn't seen much in the way of regular patrols. A live-in property manager used to keep trespassers away, but since his living quarters were destroyed in a 2008 fire, the only deterrents are barbed wire and a broken gate. And LA-88 has become a destination for hikers, taggers, and scrap metal thieves. Lately local property owners have been raising the alarm about increased break-ins, and the LAPD promises it'll keep closer tabs on the area, including via aerial patrols.
Opened in 1956, LA-88 was later the first place in LA to house the Nike Hercules, a missile equipped with a nuclear warhead: "For 18 years, the local base was bustling with more than 100 military personnel whose motto was: 'If It Flies, It Dies.'"
LA Almanac has details on what's become of the other former Nike sites, with uses running the gamut from federal courthouse in Pasadena to cement company in Saugus. [First two images via the Daily News; third image via the Nike Historical Society]
· Nike missile base-turned SWAT training center in Chatsworth hills draws taggers, vandals [DN]
· Here Are 18 of LA's Abandoned Cold War Air Raid Sirens [Curbed LA]