This is a map of the Area 51 facility. Until recently, all of this information was extremely secret, but with the internet, things have been revealed.
This is one of the signs that is on the roads leading up to the military base. These give the military authorization to use deadly force to remove people from the area.
This is a satellite picture of Area 51. This facility has grown a lot in the past few decades and it now includes a bar, many places for employees to live, and a baseball diamond for recreational activities.
Area 51 on July 20, 2016.
Backstory and Context
The location of the building had to be remote far from the view of the public because they initially built it to test U-2 prototypes in 1955. On April 12, 1955, the CIA was scouting locations from the air with the help of Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier. While flying over the Groom Lake salt flat, the CIA Special Assistant for Planning and Coordination, Richard Bissell, noticed an airstrip that had been abandoned after being used by the Army Air Corps during World War II.3 The OXCART surveillance aircraft was also tested alongside the U-2 in the 1950s and 1960s.1
The base remained secret from almost everyone until the 2000s. Satellite imagery of the area was routinely deleted from government databases. In 1973, Skylab astronauts photographed the airfield without even realizing it. However, according to declassified documents, the CIA managed to censor the picture and keep it from being seen by the public. Since then, the Soviet Union has posted pictures of it and Google Earth was invented, so the location has pictures on the internet today.1 All of the roads leading up to the building are locked and guarded with different threatening signs that state that lethal weapons will be used if you are seen behind any barriers unauthorized.
Area 51 is the front of many potential myths and conspiracy theories that will linger as long as it remains a mostly secret facility. For years, UFO conspiracy theorists have claimed that the U.S. military was using Area 51 to examine captured flying saucers. More began believing this when people started to report seeing the strange craft in the skies around the mountains that surround an actual military base. The person who originally told the world about alleged alien technology at Area 51 was news journalist George Knapp of KLAS-TV in Las Vegas in 1989. Before he came out and spoke about it, most of the world had no clue Area 51 existed. Only the people who worked there or lived in the area knew about it and unless you had a specific connection to the activities there, you wouldn't have known it existed.4