In “The Manhattan Project” (Black Dog & Leventhal), published last month, Dr. Norris writes about the Manhattan Project’s Manhattan locations. He says the borough had at least 10 sites, all but one still standing. They include warehouses that held uranium, laboratories that split the atom, and the project’s first headquarters — a skyscraper hidden in plain sight right across from City Hall.
“It was supersecret,” Dr. Norris said in an interview. “At least 5,000 people were coming and going to work, knowing only enough to get the job done.”
Manhattan was central, according to Dr. Norris, because it had everything: lots of military units, piers for the import of precious ores, top physicists who had fled Europe and ranks of workers eager to aid the war effort. It even had spies who managed to steal some of the project’s top secrets.
“The story is so rich,” Dr. Norris enthused. “There’s layer upon layer of good stuff, interesting characters.”
Still, more than six decades after the project’s start, the Manhattan side of the atom bomb story seems to be a well-preserved secret.