Project Sites

Project Sites

This section features information about the three primary sites, Hanford, WA, Los Alamos, NM, and Oak Ridge, TN, along with many of the other sites around the country, from Dayton, OH, where the polonium trigger for the bomb was designed, to Chicago, IL, where the world’s first sustained nuclear reaction took place.

Danish physicist Niels Bohr had observed that building an atomic bomb could never be done without turning the United States into one huge factory. Bohr saw his words borne out as the nationwide project transformed America with facilities coast-to-coast.

Hanford, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge are units of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Eventually, other Manhattan Project sites such as the Trinity Site and Wendover Airfield may become associated areas.

Ames, IA

Little Ankeny Several sites in Iowa played an important role during and after the Manhattan Project, including the Ames Laboratory at the Iowa State University where uranium production methods were developed, and the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant,... Learn More

Britain

Cavendish Laboratory orginal building Often overlooked, British physicists were the first to realize the feasibility of an atomic bomb and their urgings were vital to the development and success of the Manhattan Project in the United States. Cavendish LaboratoryCavendish Laboratory... Learn More

California Institute of Technology

Sloan Laboratory, built on the site of the old High Voltage Research Laboratory, where many Caltech physicists did their research. Photo courtesy of Antony-22 via Wikimedia Commons. Before the war, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was a leading university in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. It was especially known for its experimental physicists. Many scientists who had important roles on the... Learn More

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A number of Manhattan Project scientists were educated at Harvard and MIT, and both universities... Learn More

Canada

El Dorado Mine Often overlooked, Canada played an important role in the Manhattan Project, especially during the early stages of research and development. Canada was also crucial for another reason: its Northwest Territories provided a rich source of raw uranium... Learn More

Chicago, IL

Stagg Field One of the most important branches of the Manhattan Project was the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. Known simply as the “Met Lab,” the laboratory’s primary role was to design a viable method for plutonium production that could... Learn More

Cuba

The airfield at San Antonio de los Banos today. Photo by Alistair1978 via Wikimedia Commons. After the activation of the 509th Composite Group in December 1944, some members of the group (including members of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, the unit's combat squad) went to Cuba for training. At Batista Field in San Antonio de Los Baños, the... Learn More

Dayton, OH

The Runnymede Playhouse, where researchers worked on separating polonium Dayton, Ohio was another important site of the Manhattan Project’s top-secret work. In 1943, the MED tasked the Monsanto Chemical Company with separating and purifying the radioactive element Polonium (Po-210), which was to be used as the... Learn More

Decatur, IL

Decatur, IL. Photo courtesy of the Decatur Public Library. The Houdaille-Hershey Plant was a secret Manhattan Project site located in Decatur, Illinois. It was responsible for plating the interior of pipes with a barrier material that could be used for the gaseous diffusion process for enriching uranium at... Learn More

Detroit, MI

The K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee A little known Manhattan Project site took place at the Chrysler Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. When the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee was established to produce enriched uranium using the gaseous diffusion process, engineers had to... Learn More

Grand Junction, CO

Manhattan Project Mill at Uravan From 1943 until 1945, Grand Junction, Colorado was the center of the Manhattan Project’s secret effort to mine and refine uranium ore from surrounding mills in the Colorado Plateau. By 1946, over 2,600,000 pounds of uranium oxide had been... Learn More

Hanford, WA

The B Reactor at Hanford Hanford, Washington, on the beautiful Columbia River, was the site selected for the full-scale plutonium production plant, the B Reactor. Today a popular tourist destination, the Hanford Site proved crucial to the success of the Manhattan Project.... Learn More

Japan

The Hiroshima Peace Bell World War IIJapan was one of the Axis powers in World War II. Its attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, on December 7, 1941 brought the US formally into the war. Japan also attacked British, Dutch, and American possessions in the Southwest Pacific around the... Learn More

Los Alamos, NM

Fuller Lodge at Los Alamos Los Alamos, New Mexico, was the site of Project Y, or the top-secret atomic weapons laboratory directed by J. Robert Oppenheimer. The site was so secret that one mailbox, PO Box 1663, served as the mailing address for the entire town. The mountains... Learn More

Manhattan, NY

Schermerhorn Hall at Columbia University. Photo courtesy of Columbia University. A surprising number of New York City offices, laboratories, and warehouses were involved in the top-secret Manhattan Project. While these New York City sites remain largely unmarked and unknown, they were a small but crucial part of the success of... Learn More

Oak Ridge, TN

The Alexander Inn at Oak Ridge Oak Ridge was the home of the uranium enrichment plants (K-25 and Y-12), the liquid thermal diffusion plant (S-50), and the pilot plutonium production reactor (X-10 Graphite Reactor). Site SelectionIn 1942, General Leslie Groves approved Oak... Learn More

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Navy Yard Philip Abelson conducted research on the liquid thermal diffusion method of isotope separation at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This process was utilized for the S-50 Plant at Oak Ridge.In September 1944, two workers were killed while trying to fix a... Learn More

Princeton, NJ

Smyth Report While not a major site of production like Los Alamos or Oak Ridge, the scientists and knowledge coming out of Princeton University were instrumental for the success of the Manhattan Project. Princeton, like the University of Chicago and the... Learn More

Purdue University

Seymour Benzer and Karl Lark-Horowitz in the Purdue physics laboratory. Courtesy of Seymour Benzer. The Purdue University Physics Department operated a cyclotron during the early part of the war, conducting important nuclear research. Many of the scientists working on the project were transferred to Los Alamos to continue work on the Manhattan... Learn More

Tinian Island

Tinian airfields. Tinian Island was the launching point for the atomic bomb attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. One of three islands in the Northern Marianas, Tinian is less than forty square miles in size and located approximately 1,500 miles south of... Learn More

Trinity Site

The famous photo of the Trinity test, taken by Jack Aeby. J. Robert Oppenheimer gave the code name "Trinity" to a remote patch of the Jornada del Muerto Desert as a tribute to a line from a poem by John Donne. Soon after, teams of scientists and soldiers descended on the area, setting up a base camp and... Learn More

University of California, Berkeley

J. Robert Oppenheimer once occupied this office at Berkeley The Rad Lab, short for “Radiation Laboratory,” was the site of Manhattan Project research at the University of California, Berkeley. Ernest Lawrence formed the lab in 1931, three years after his arrival at the university.During his early research,... Learn More

University of Rochester

University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital Small experiments studying the effects of radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, uranium, and polonium, on humans were conducted in the Manhattan Annex of the Strong Memorial Hospital located at the University of Rochester. The purpose of these... Learn More

Washington, DC

The New War Building, where General Leslie Groves had his office Washington, DC, became important in nuclear history even before the start of the Manhattan Project. Nuclear fission was first announced in DC at George Washington University. During the Fifth Washington Conference on Theoretical Physics, Niels... Learn More

Wendover, UT

Enola Gay Hangar Wendover Airfield in Utah was selected as the training and test center for the atomic bomb delivery group as part of Project Alberta. Nicknamed "Kingman," the site was the initial training ground for the 509th Composite Group and the 216th Army... Learn More

Wilmington, DE

Wilmington, Delaware is the headquarters of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, an American chemical production company that played a significant role in the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb. History of the DuPont... Learn More