Just a few months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States conducted a series of high altitude nuclear tests off Johnston Island, a coral atoll about 800 miles west of Oahu.
Newspaper photographers captured the afterglow of the blast from Punchbowl.
newspapers.com / Pipi Wakayama/ The Honolulu Advertiser
People in Hawaii were so excited to witness the blast that hotels in Waikiki planned watch parties, families lined up in parks and on beaches to find a good viewing spot, and newspapers printed viewing guides.
“It’s sort of a testament to American propagandists, that you could turn such a destructive force into visual majesty in a way that would get celebrated,” says Suzanna Reiss, a historian and associate professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa.
Travel back in time with Civil Beat’s Offshore podcast to hear about the detonation from one of the reporters who covered the tests, and a beauty pageant contestant who made headlines for opposing them.