Posted by: noadventure | November 19, 2008

Buried Alive: exploring an abandoned bomb shelter

As seen in GAMBIT.

I grew up in New Orleans and I never knew about this place. Apparently, most of the locals I talk to about it have known about it forever.

There’s an abandoned BOMB SHELTER in Lakeview. Wow.

This is what it looked like around 1960.


Here’s a photo I took from inside to show what it looks like now.


According to the Office of Civil Defense in the 1950s, the shelter was constructed to prepare for “disasters caused by enemy attacks or other hostile action, or by fire, flood, earthquakes, or other natural causes.”

After scouting this place out, I knew we had to spelunk the bejeezus out of it.  Anyway, I won’t waste too much time blabbering about the thing when the VIDEO is this AMAZING.  I give you the latest NO adventure in two parts:

Buried Alive: Part 1

Buried Alive: Part 2

See if you can spot this siren from the back of the truck in the video. I’ll give you a hint: it’s yellow.



Cool blueprints. By the way, for more great photos and info about the shelter, check out the following link:



  1. Great video. I have always wanted to see the inside of that thing. I hope you threw away all the clothes you had on in that filthy place and had a good scrub down before you went home.

    Great Website also. I will be checking back.

  2. me and my buddies always wanted to go down after we heard a story from another friend saying he found a body and was really freaked out.
    Did yall ever go to the second floor and how much of the place was left unexplored?

  3. To Lattie(Tallgesse):

    Check out Part 2 of the video, Lattie! Very little of the bomb shelter was left unexplored. After the trip, I looked at a blueprint and noticed that we didn’t go into a large food storage room, a women’s bunk room, and the men’s shower/bath/locker room. We pretty much covered everything else.

  4. Excellent video, I had seen the old photo’s of that place on-line. I thought for sure it would’ve been covered over by now. I wish I could find a shelter/command post like that here in michigan.
    There was two for Detroit, but one is gone now and a neighborhood stands in it’s place, the other is used by the Detroit EMS Dept, and Parks and Rec Dept.

  5. Neat video! I would suggest going down again with some high powered lights (and perhaps get a tetanus shot).

  6. Me and a few buddies went and checked this places out.

    Its pretty neat. Those bottles you found in the medical room, those were dextrose (aka glucose). I was also kind of perplexed about what kind of weird stuff they would need those stirrups for on the operating table, apparently thats for delivering babies.
    While we were there we noticed some markings on the large map in the central room of the first floor. After studying them for some time we were able to decipher that the stars on the map were locations of all the other shelters in the city. There had to have been at least twenty or thirty.
    I am sad to say, for those who would like to visit, the main door has been welded shut.
    Not to be a downer or anything, but after a pretty thorough search, no body was found.

  7. This video definitely brought back tons of memories. My friend and I went down there after katrina in a small blowup boat designed for pools. i felt all of the same things you did, the toxic air, the strange creepiness of being alone… we basically saw all of the same things you all did, only we had one flashlight. although once we went upstairs (which was scary to do at first, but great to get out of the water) i seem to remember seeing much better. i was mostly facinated with the medical room, being that i’m a nurse…i think i took a medicine bottle home with me, as well as a stainless steel cafeteria tray. to make a long story short, our small boat popped as we were going through a rusty door jam, and we somehow made it out of there alive! its nice to see that someone else went down there and documented the trip. i’d definitely do the whole thing over again, but this time with more light and a camera. i pass by there a lot to see if somehow the door had been reopened… great to see this video though, and the link with the pictures is helpful too! i’m sure we’ll all end up dying somewhat prematurely due to this adventure, but i’d do it all over if i could.

  8. I just found your blog so I am going through old posts right now. I have lived here my entire life and have never heard of this. Is it currently accessible?

    Also, I saw you were looking for guest writers. I suck at updating my own blog but we do a lot of the same things you have posted about – canoeing, boating, hiking, etc. I am probably going tubing at the end of the month. Let me know if you would be interested in write ups of past outings that I have pics for and anything upcoming.

  9. […] is necessary to explore the South. New Orleans has plenty to offer, but my bomb shelter documentary Buried Alive got into the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and I took a day off from work to check it […]

  10. It was really sad to see the condition of the old shelter. Believe it or not, this place was considered top-notch state-of-the-art when it was constructed. The last time I was down there was in the mid 1980’s during a hurricane, and I was working the phones with the Civil Defense. I spent about an hour while I was there walking around the place, and it was really cool. There is a really bad movie that was filmed in New Orleans in the 1990’s (the name I can’t remember) that used the shelter in their movie as a FBI headquarters. Also, they used the shelter for a short period to house female prisoners as a parish jail around the same time. We were actually trying to get the city to reopen it in 2004 and use it for the CERT program, but they said that it was too far gone and flooded. They said they couldn’t tear the place down because it was paid for with federal money, or something like that. The shelter is built at ground level, but you had floor pumps to pump out the water that collected on the floor which came from the humidity. because the walls are made of cement a couple of feet thick, that’s why the shelter flooded so easily and retained the water. Watching this video was really depressing. The city should have never let this place fall apart.

  11. […] Speaking of Gambit, Blake Pontchartrain mentioned NOadventure in an article this year about the Underground Bomb Shelter we spelunked. BTW, Buried Alive, the documentary we made, played at the Docufest Film Festival in […]

  12. I grew up in Old Metairie and have ALWAYS been interested in going into this fallout shelter. Though I was born in mid-80’s, I cannot say I’ve ever been able to get into the shelter. I checked a few months ago, the door is still welded shut. But thank you for displaying this video, I had NO idea it was that big in there. Does anyone have more photos, or even a picture of the shelter’s design??

  13. Fantastic video of a period of Cold War History now forgotten. They should never have let it get into a state like it is now. It would make a great museum not only as a reminder of those Dangerous times but of the CD.
    A timely reminder to future generations of how we all lived under the threat of the Bomb
    A Great Explore!

  14. Totally amazing videos-I always wondered what the place looked like on the inside. Total bummer that the City of New Orleans hasn’t used the damn thing since the 1980’s- BTW, if you look at the dedication placard, the facility dates to, I believe, 1961, so you could say that it was a relative newcomer as control centers go. I also had heard talk that the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s office once considered using it as a place to house prisoners for a time.

  15. I grew up in new orleans and remember seeing this shelter all the time. I always wondered what it was like on the inside. Looks like something from Dr Strangelove or an old Bond film. Thx for the pics/video.

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