Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Closed city (wikipedia.org)
84 points by lelf on Aug 1, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments



This reminds me of China Miéville's novel The City & The City, ostensibly a police procedural where two cities overlay the same physical space:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_%26_the_City


I read that several years ago, and my impression was it was inspired by how different subcultures occupy the same space in real life cities, but it's taboo for them to communicate or sometimes even acknowledge each others' presence.


Getting a visitor's permit is (or maybe was — I don't know about the situation of last 2-3 years) relatively straightforward even for foreign tourists. That's in Russia, I don't know much about China.

Having grown up in relatively closed city of Omsk, Russia, I knew (like every other boy of my age) the exact coordinates of probable nuclear strikes in case of war (ICBM silos perimeter, tank production plant officialy known as transport machinery plant, nuclear weapons maintenance plants etc.) All of which were supposedly secret, but everyone knew everything anyway.


I was born in the city of Severomorsk.¹ Current population 50,000+. I'm living in another city now. And I can't go the place of my birth unless I prepare the papers two weeks before the visit.² Forget about the spontaneous visits to my friends living there.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severomorsk

² My friend helped me with the papers. I don't remember exactly, but simply saying "I want to visit my friends" is not enough. It's more complicated than that.


Do you still hold the Russian passport? Also, yes, I haven't said it doesn't take time, unfortunately.


I once read a blog about a guy that was hitchhiking in China and ended up in a city that he was escorted out from (first being threatened with jail, deleting photos, etc). He couldn't find it on a map either (but he just knew the main road which he used, not exactly where he left it, so..).

Apparently there were lots of kids with badges, many sport venues. His guess was a some sort of talent building city for olympics.

edit: Here it is through translate (haven't checked how bad it is) https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%...


America had secret cities too at one point; from 1942 until 1949, Oak Ridge, a city of 75,000 people did not exist on maps.

http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2012/06/the-secret-city/100...


Likewise Los Alamos, NM and Richland, WA as the article mentions.


I'm curious about US cities that are effectively closed today. What happens if you try to drive to Pilcher, OK or Love Canal, NY?


Since both cities are highly contaminated with chemicals from mining and from toxic-waste disposal, I'd venture to guess that the result of driving there is that you will die a slow, painful death from poisoning.


Love Canal is not a city, it's a neighborhood of Niagara Falls, roughly 16 acres of the worst of which is fenced. Since the toxins have been buried probably nothing would happen unless you went digging around the soil and eating with dirty hands; or maybe spent a few years living in a tent above it.

Perhaps a more interesting case is Centralia PA.


I visited Centralia several years ago, and it was fascinating. I don't recall pedestrian access being impeded at the time, but there was definitely gas and smoke rising from a few spots around town. I happened to visit on a cloudy morning, and it had an eerie, ethereal feel to it.

There were several areas where the road was damaged, and it was clear that it wouldn't be wise to put too much weight over top, but there are still people living in the area.


Why the strong focus on Russian/Ex-Soviet cities in the article, though? It seems odd that there is a detailed list of present-day closed cities in Russia but only passing mention of other countries.


The most likely explanation is because that's where they were the most prevalent or most well-documented. The lead of the article notes: "Closed cities are a feature of heavily militarized countries and secretive regimes, and many still exist in the successor countries to the Soviet Union."

Or it could just be that whoever added the content has Russia-centric knowledge or interests and contributed that. Wikipedia knowingly suffers from systematic bias [0] and many articles will have a tag like this one [1] for being too US-centric. The problem with addressing that is that most editors are American and don't really have access to other language reliable sources. Though in this case the sources are in English so it could just be that English-language sources all focus on that area.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Systemic_bias

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Globalize


I think the article and associated articles just don't haven't had much time invested into developing them.

For example, the articles for the regions in China don't mention that they're closed cities.

And for the current closed cities in Russia, their articles just say that they're closed in the first sentence and don't reference it again.

I think there's a lot of scope to develop the article and associated pages with more information.


I would add to the list many US "cities". If we define a city as a community large enough to meat the general needs of its inhabitants (health, commerce, work/home etc) then lots of places in the US qualify as closed cities. Most of the large military bases a de facto cities, and they are closed.

Louisiana State prison (aka Angola) is a closed city imho. It has a golf course, farms, an air strip and cemetery.

My point is that wikipedia gives the impression that such cities are the mark of oppressive or secretive regimes, listing only a handful of formerly-closed cities in the US. And those were all relate in some way to the Manhattan project. But there are plenty of other closed cities in the US of today ... so um well ... read into that what you will.


A closed city is not a prison keeping people in. It keeps people out.

It's easy to get to the Louisiana State prison, just commit a crime appropriate to the security level of the prison and make going to that prison part of your plea bargain.


By wikipedia's def, a closed city is one where anyone entering has to provide identification and a reason for them to be there. You don't get into a large prison without a reason. You don't enter an army base without good reason.


By that definition every country with visa requirements is a closed city.


> If we define a city as a community large enough to me[e]t the general needs of its inhabitants (health, commerce, work/home etc)

I can't tell what you're trying to say. Cities are never able to meet the needs of their inhabitants; they need to import food. In that sense, this would be an extremely odd way to define "cities". But you mention "commerce" -- if you assume that purchasing imported necessities counts as "meeting the needs of the inhabitants", I would think that everywhere on earth is "large enough" to do so.

Also, without any uncomfortable analysis into what should and shouldn't count, a single peasant household definitely is large enough to meet the needs of its inhabitants in the same sense, whatever that is, that any urban area can. (Even peasant households -- and villages -- ordinarily purchase iron and salt rather than producing them.) Peasants, though, are generally considered the opposite of cities.


Surely Louisiana State prison is part of a locally oppressive regime even if the wider society outside is not.


People living in closed cities were citizens not penalized in rights. Not so with prisons and labor camps.


Prisons have guards and administrators and support staff who are free to enjoy the private golf courses and libraries and parks and stores.

Likewise an army base with a basic training or advanced training school battalion isn't very free for new recruits but the cadre and soldiers unrelated to the basic training battalion may very well outnumber the recruits and live in a reasonably nice private closed city.


> Prisons have guards and administrators and support staff who are free to enjoy the private golf courses and libraries and parks and stores.

But don't generally live in the prison. The residents of the prison are not free citizens.

> Likewise an army base with a basic training or advanced training school battalion isn't very free for new recruits but the cadre and soldiers unrelated to the basic training battalion may very well outnumber the recruits and live in a reasonably nice private closed city.

US military bases are probably better examples or approximations of the idea of a closed city than US prisons.


This concept is interesting as a way to secure critical government employees against espionage and extortion.

It would seem much more difficult to provide security/surveillance details for critical personnel (to prevent assassination or compromise by foreign agents) and their families (to prevent kidnap/extortion) living in bustling open cities, than to provide housing in secure facilities where such threats cannot even get near them.

If I were (say) Iran, I might not want my nuclear scientists living among the masses.


45% of USA is uninhabited :)


"No 404 Factory of China National Nuclear Corp"

AKA factory not found.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: