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JFK Bomb Shelter.

JFK Bomb Shelter on Peanut Island (Closed)

Field review by the editors.

West Palm Beach, Florida

JFK was such a glamorous President that he had his own vacation bomb shelter. He and his entourage could be whisked to his presidential bunker -- dug into a hillside on Peanut Island -- in just ten minutes from the swanky Winter White House in Palm Beach. The bomb shelter's entry hatch is still painted in camouflage and hidden in a thicket of trees.

JFK Bomb Shelter.

The lead, steel, and concrete hidey-hole was dug in ten days by Navy Seabees in what was called "Operation Hotel." It was designed to be temporary. It could shelter up to 30 people for a month, living on K rations and barreled water, before the survivors would be rescued by submarine. Washington didn't even acknowledge its existence until 1974. It finally opened to the public for tours in 1999.

Visitors could see JFK's post-Doomsday desk, the decontamination shower and sterilization chamber, radiation detection kits, and drinking water barrels that could later be converted into toilets. Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Bobby Kennedy, frequently visited the bunker with her grandchildren, although it received no money from the government or the Kennedy family.

Budget cuts forced the bunker to stop admitting visitors on October 23, 2017. Despite the apparent simplicity of a survival hole that was dug in only ten days, local officials have estimated that it would cost $5 million to reopen the bunker to the public.

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JFK Bomb Shelter on Peanut Island

On Peanut Island in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Accessible by ferry or kayak from Riviera Beach Marina, 200 E. 13th Street, Riviera Beach, FL.
Closed due to budget cuts: Oct. 2017.

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