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The Air Raid Sirens of the San Fernando Valley

Siren# 166 on Woodlake south of Strathern, West Hills
What the heck is an air raid siren and why is it in on my street?

During the cold war era, the threat of an attack by the Russians was always a possibility similar to how a terrorist attack can happen at any moment today. To prepare the citizens of Los Angeles county who were highly vulnerable because it was the closest major metropolitan city to Russia, air raid sirens were installed in various locations throughout Los Angeles County including the San Fernando Valley. These air raid sirens would audibly alarm extremely loud to alert the radius of homes that it covered in the event of a pending attack. (Keep in mind this is before internet, text messaging, etc.) Although, I wonder, if an attack was pending, where do all these people go, its not like they had basements. However, some did have bomb shelters which I discussed here. If you remember, in the 50's, the nation was still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attacks similar to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks so with the Cold War in full frontal force, the nation was ready to defend itself at any cost. This also included the installation of the Nike missile sites (to be discussed at a later date) and the infamous Rocketdyne testing facility.
Sirent# 209 on Tujunga Ave North Hollywood at Fire Station# 60
Amazingly, a majority of these air raid sirens still exist in original condition but probably not in working condition due to weather exposure for over the past 50 years. But these serve as a strong reminder of the fears and dangers that existed during the cold war era. These sirens are real life "museum" pieces in original form and location. It doesnt get anymore real than this. Hopefully, these remain forever to serve as a testament of what our ancestors had to experience. The sirens that were removed I am guessing it was due to a potential safety hazard or some new development that overtook that siren. Its good to know that whatever bureau of the LA County that is responsible for these sirens has decided to not remove them. Or is this an oversight? Or does that bureau not exist anymore. At any rate, keep as it is please.

If you are old enough, you will easily recall the sirens being tested on the last Friday of each month at 10 AM. 

The Dennis' Air Raid Siren page does an amazing job of compiling the history, status, and images of these air raid sirens. I highly recommend it. There is a strong possibility that you live near one and may have never recognized it as you rushed to work or school in the morning.

I also recommend visiting the Flickr page dedicated to these air raid sirens and the video below of an air raid siren tested at some guy's house to give you an idea how loud these things were. I also love the part where they show the electric meter spinning ridiculously fast. 

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

6 comments to ''The Air Raid Sirens of the San Fernando Valley"

  1. There's an Air raid siren gone off in East London, Bow. So LOUD. 4:38AM. Very scary. But zzzzzzz

  2. The reason these were not removed is because of the cost to do so. They are only removed when the location they are sitting on is redeveloped.

  3. I live in Pacoima. Every Sunday at 10am, I can hear what sounds like an air raid siren. Could it be one of these?

  4. Hello Anonymous from Pacoima,

    I doubt you are hearing the air raid sirens because they were discontinued awhile back. I am not sure what you are hearing but maybe something from a nearby school or factory.

  5. Just scanning the interwebs for pic of home - and recognized this as Woodlake immediately! Lived one street over on Bobbyboyar as a kid, and one street over the other way on Quimby for 15 years until I finally left the Valley due to the great real estate fiasco 10 years ago... Still miss the old neighborhood.

  6. Wuts up Peoples, I live in Pacoima & the closes siren to me is on Foothill blvd./Van Nuys blvd.
    Thats funny that I just read that u hear a air raid siren @ 10:00a.m.
    Thats the reson Im here. I heard it around 10am. But today is Sunday so Im sure its not the air raid siren, plus it was faint like it was farther than the closest one to me..


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