Cold War KML

Frankly, the world has been a little boring ever since the Cold War ended. With Russian warships visiting Cuba, however, nostalgists may soon have everything they wished for — in which case, best to be prepared with a few KML layers:

  • Russian air defences mapped: IMINT & Analysis’s Sean O’Connor has just published a huge post detailing many of Russia’s air defence installations, both new and older inactive ones from the Cold War. It comes with its own KML layer that also shows you Russia’s six military zones. This really is an amazing post, with great analysis and context, also in the comments — imagine how much fun it would have been to have had Google Earth back in the 1980s.

    I particularly like the geometric patterns that the old, inactivated Cold-War era surface-to-air defence installations make around Moscow:


  • Berlin Wall: Ostalgists will like Stephanie Lange’s KML overlay that records the path of the Berlin Wall through central Berlin. It’s not just the wall, though, that’s shown, but the entire “death strip” that was cleared on the East-German side to prevent people from hopping over.

    Berlin has changed a lot since 1989, and the zone has been rebuilt in some places, while in others it has been left to grow wild — in those places you can clearly see the walking paths that have developed organically over the past 19 years; where people would have walked if they could during the 28 years the wall existed.


    Stephanie’s path does not cover the wall beyond the city, though in fact it used to extend all the way around West Berlin. The rest of the border is visible if you turn on Borders in Google Earth. With this layer turned on, you can follow that curious no-man’s land all the way around.

    For extra credit, find all all the West Berlin exclaves — some parts of West Berlin were completely surrounded by East Germany. Strange Maps wrote a series of posts about them not too long ago.

More broadly, it’s interesting to see how past conflicts and borders continue to leave an impact on today’s globe.