Virtual Shelter Tours

Zilker Park Demonstration Fallout Shelter, Austin, Texas

In February of 2002 Ben Abzug of Austin Texas sent me a set of photos and some information on the old demonstration fallout shelter at Zilker Park in Austin. In September of 2014 I was going through my archived emails and, to my embarassment, found his email and realized that I had forgotten all about for 12 years. Sorry Ben! Well, 12 years later here are the photos he sent of the Zilker Park shelter.

In 1960 an Austin TV station shot a civil defense film featured at the Texas Archive of The Moving Image web site. There are several scenes of a family in a fallout shelter throughout the film. I believe these scenes were shot in the Zilker Park shelter.
Here is the link to the film on the TAMI site
There is a note in the TAMI Tags section next to the video about the Zilker Park shelter as well. In one scene the family is shown eating at the fold-down table shown in the 2002 shelter interior photo below.

As of this 2014 writing I have no idea what condition the Ziker Park shelter is in or if it is even still there.

Below are some answers Ben sent me in an e-mail to a series of questions I had asked him. I don't remember the questions but from the answers it's easy to guess what they were.
My comments below are in italics - Eric Green.

February 10, 2002
1. Zilker park is the main public park in Austin. If you come down anybody can tell you where it is.
2. The shelter was used to demonstrate how people could build shelters in their back yard and how to stock them. The groundskeeper gave tours a couple times a month up until the mid-sixties. It was paid for by public money.
3. Not to big. It follows a standard CD plan. Check the included photos.
4. No, it's not open. But I called the groundskeeper and he had no problem letting me take a look.
5. Yes, There was a CD information packet that used to store pamphlets. You were supposed to take the packet home. There was also a little display explaining how the shelter was built. Also a lot of rat eaten pamphlets in the corner. No I didn't take them : (Believe me I thought about it. But I figured it wasn't mine even if nobody wanted it. And I thought it would be best to leave it be for the next person to see so they could get the same excitement of finding them. I was absolutely amazed at that everything was considering that it had been abandoned for so long.
6. It's well worth the trip... If you need further directions just drop me a line. This was a great thrill as this was my first purpose built fallout shelter to visit. I have a strange affinity for forgotten and disused places and this fit the bill nicely!

Ben didn't provide comments on every photo but the photos are pretty self explanatory. It does appear that there was some water in the shelter at the time he took the photos. Ben did comment on the first image directly below.

Shelter Information From City Of Austin, Texas

Almost forgot... Here a scan of the pamphlet that was handed out at the door. I found a copy of this at the library. I love the part about how the color scheme was to put your mind at ease. Enjoy. -Ben

In case the text in the image above isn't readable I've taken the time to type it out...

This prototype Family Fallout Shelter was built with federal funds by the City Of Austin and the Southwestern Headquarters of The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. The contractor was Maufrais Brothers of Austin. An underground fallout shelter of this size can be built for less than $2,000 under normal conditions.

Purpose of the shelter is for public education, research and demonstration--to show how a typical American family can protect itself from the dangers of radioactive fallout.

Capacity is a maximum of six persons for two or more weeks. An adequate amount of water, groceries and other supplies is included to suffice for that period of time. The shelter is constructed of eight-inch reinforced concrete. The hallway-entrance is separated from the living area by a 90-degree turn to stop radiation which travels in a straight line. A heavy metal locking door protects the stairway entrance. Filtered intake and exhaust vents provide fresh air protection against radioactive, bacteriological and chemical elements. Other features include sanitary facilities and a transister radio.

The color scheme for the interior and furnishing was planned with a definite purpose in mind-- to lend an air of harmony and yet give a feeling of cheefulness. The pale gold walls and vinyl flooring are accented by use of pumpkin, olive green and Tiber gold in the other furnishing. The custom-built furniture includes a storage wall for keeping food and supplies, a fold-down table, upper fold-down bed, a bolster-back single bed and two dining chairs.

(Cutaway Veiw Shelter Drawing, See Above)

  Your family shelter and equip with two-week supply of food and water, first aid kit, battery radio.
  Evacuation kit for you automobile with food, water, first aid kit, battery or car radio, blankets.

  1. Warning signals and what they mean.
  2. Your community plan for emergency action.
  3. Protection from radioactive fallout.
  4. First aid and home emergency preparedness.
  5. Use of CONELRAD--640 or 1240 for official directions.

Zilker Park Shelter Door

Zilker Park Shelter Door and Stairs

Stairs Going Down Into Shelter Air Vent Pipe At Shelter

Above Left Photo shows view down entry stairs. Entry hallway leads straight below from the bottom of the stairs. Shelter area is below ground to the left.
Above Right Photo shows one of the air vent pipe filters.

Passageway Into Shelter Passageway Looking Other Way Towards Stairs

Above Left Photo shows entry hallway. The turn to the left at the end of the hall leads to the shelter area.
Above Right Photo was taken looking back toward entry stairs from end of entry hallway next to turn into shelter area (see below).

Interior Room Of Shelter

The pumpkin, olive green and Tiber gold colors (mentioned above in the pamphlet) have held up remarkably well over 30+ years of neglect.

Air Circulation Blower

Orignal classic hand crank air blower. Ben didn't mention if he tried it to see if it still worked.

Original Austin Texas civil defense information packet still stapled to the wall after all that time.

Civil Defense Museum Site Index