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Manhattan Project Sites in Downtown Los Alamos

Visit the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in downtown Los Alamos.
August 18, 2014

  • Manhattan Project NHP-Los Alamos Public Engagement Specialist
  • Jonathan Creel
  • CPA-CPO
  • (505) 667-6277
  • Email
  • Manhattan Project NHP-Los Alamos Project Manager
  • Cheryl Abeyta
  • EPC-DO
  • Email

During World War II, the name “Los Alamos” was classified information. People referred to Los Alamos Laboratory as Project Y, Site Y, or the Zia Project, though locals called it “the hill”—a name that you’ll l hear residents use today. The canyons, mesas, and mountains surrounding Los Alamos were an ideal place for workers to escape the pressure of their jobs and relax. Civilian workers and scientists brought their families to “the hill,” and created a sense of community on the isolated mesa-top, even during this immense undertaking. In January of 1943, this secret city had just 1,500 residents. By the time the war ended in 1945, the population of Los Alamos had boomed to an estimated 8,200.

Tour the town today and walk in the footsteps of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Laboratory's first Director, and Nobel Prize winners like Enrico Fermi, Emilo Segrè, and Richard Feyman. Discover where Manhattan Project staff lived and worked and learn the story of Los Alamos, the "secret city on the hill.”

In downtown Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park experience is a partnership between the Department of Energy, the National Park Service, Los Alamos County, the Los Alamos Historical Society, and private landowners.

Walking tour map of downtown sites

Manhattan Project National Historic Park walking tour of downtown sites
  • Ice House, Manhattan Project

    Ice House, Manhattan Project

    Project Y scientists used the ice house to assemble the nuclear components of the Trinity gadget, the first tested atomic device.

  • Ice House Memorial

    2. Ice House Memorial

    This memorial contains original stone from the Ranch School's ice house, which was torn down in 1957.

  • Ashley Pond, 1945

    3. Ashley Pond

    Ashley Pond was at the center of the fenced and guarded Technical Area 1 (TA-1).

  • Ashley Pond, Los Alamos Ranch School

    3. Ashley Pond

    The pond was named after Mr. Ashley Pond, the founder of the Los Alamos Ranch School.

  • Fuller Lodge, Los Alamos Ranch School

    5. Fuller Lodge

    Fuller Lodge was built in 1928 as the dining hall for the Los Alamos Ranch School.

  • Fuller Lodge

    5. Fuller Lodge

    During Project Y, the Lodge hosted numerous community activities such as concerts, dances, dinners, and other special events.

  • Guest Cottage, Los Alamos Ranch School, 1942

    6. Historical Museum

    Built as the infirmary for the Ranch School in 1918, this cottage is the oldest continuously used building in Los Alamos.

  • Guest Cottage, Los Alamos Ranch School, 1942

    6. Historical Museum

    It later served as a guest cottage for Ranch School visitors and was Gen. Leslie Groves' favorite place to stay.

  • Baker House

    7. Baker House

    Built in 1925, this house briefly served during the Manhattan Project as home to Sir James Chadwick, who discovered the neutron in 1932.

  • Baker House

    7. Baker House

    Later Robert Bacher, head of the Experimental Physics Division of the project, lived here.

  • Stone Power House

    8. Stone Power House

    After remodeling in 1944–1945, explosives expert George Kistiakowsky lived here.

  • Stone Power House

    8. Stone Power House

    This structure was built in 1933 to house the Ranch School’s electrical generator.

  • Spruce Cottage, Los Alamos Ranch School

    9. Spruce Cottage

    This dormitory, for the older boys at the Ranch School, was converted into a Women’s Army Corps dormitory at the beginning of Project Y.

  • Spruce Cottage, 1942

    9. Spruce Cottage

    Eventually, it was divided into apartments, one of which was occupied by Kenneth Bainbridge, director of the Trinity test.

  • Arts and Crafts Building, Los Alamos Ranch School

    10. Arts and Crafts House

    Originally classrooms for the Ranch School, this building was divided into two apartments during the Manhattan Project.

  • Arts and Crafts Building, 1942

    10. Arts and Crafts House

    Among its residents were base commander Lt. Col. Whitney Ashbridge, a Ranch School graduate, and Norris Bradbury, second director of the Los Alamos laboratory.

  • Bethe House

    11. Bethe House

    Chemist Edwin McMillan and physicist Hans Bethe, both Nobel Prize winners, lived in this house.

  • Bethe House

    11. Bethe House

    This house will soon be a museum about the role Los Alamos played during the Cold War.

  • Oppenheimer House

    12. Oppenheimer House

    This house was built in 1929 for the sister of Ranch School Director A.J. Connell.

  • Oppenheimer House

    12. Oppenheimer House

    Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and his family lived here during the Manhattan Project.

  • Parsons House, 1942

    13. Parsons House

    Built in 1925, this house was originally occupied by Ranch School master Fermor Church and his wife, Peggy Pond Church, daughter of the school’s founder.

  • Parsons House today

    13. Parsons House

    During Project Y, Naval Commander William “Deak” Parsons lived here. Parsons served as the weapons officer aboard the Enola Gay.

  • WAC Dormitory interior, 1945

    14. WAC Dormitory

    This Manhattan Project dormitory housed some of the Women’s Army Corps members stationed here.

  • WAC Dormitory

    14. WAC Dormitory

    Now this building is the privately-owned Christian Science Reading Room.

  • East Cafeteria

    15. WWII Cafeteria

    This was the favorite mess hall for the military members of the Project. Now it is the Los Alamos Performing Arts Center.