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Best U.S. places to survive the apocalypse

By: Laura Moss on Aug. 13, 2010, 1 p.m.
Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

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Capitol Visitor Center

In the event of chemical, biological, nuclear or terrorist attack, you might think that Washington, D.C. is the last place you should be. After all, who’s most likely the target of such an attack? But if you can gain access to the top-secret bottom floor of the Capitol Visitor Center, you just may survive.

The CVC is a three-level, 580,00-square-foot building built entirely underground on the east side of the Capitol. The leviathan visitor center is supposedly built below ground “so as to enhance rather than detract from the appearance of the Capitol,” but not everyone believes that. It’s rumored that the building is actually designed to be a haven for lawmakers in the event of disaster — the entire bottom floor is reserved for Congress’ use and is off limits to the public.

Although the building was designed before the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to the architects, RTKL, the floor plans were amended after 9/11 and fitted “to deliver adequate security measures and material protection.” No one will say if the building provides protection from bombs, nuclear threats or biological or chemical incidents; however, the CVC does have four bombproof skylights and a tunnel system large enough for vehicles to move around. The building also has a sophisticated IT infrastructure that houses hundreds of thousands of feet of fiber-optic cable.