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Mass Delusions: A Look Back at the Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic of 1954

Last updated 6 years ago

The frenzy that would soon become known as the Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic of 1954 began innocently enough in the town of Bellingham. A series of tiny pit-sized windshield holes began appearing in vehicles, and soon enough, a mass hysteria broke out. With theories ranging from absurd to inconceivable, this strange phenomenon would ultimately be defined as nothing but delusion.

  • Beginnings: The first pit-sized windshield holes came about in Bellingham, Washington, in March of 1954. Upon inspecting these tiny holes, Bellingham police arrived at the conclusion that vandals must have been up to no good with BB guns. A safe enough explanation, it would suffice for the moment. Yet, these mysterious vandals would begin to attack dozens of miles to the south, making the situation especially peculiar.
  • Senseless in Seattle: Eventually, the news would reach Seattle, and on April 14th, what had been happening up north became front page news. Later that same evening, a handful of cars endured damage. By the morning after, the damage become so widespread that it would be considered an epidemic.
  • Theories Abound: Pandemonium ensued and absurd and implausible theories began popping up. Some believed cosmic rays were bombarding the earth, while others blamed gremlins. Some groups believed the Navy’s watt radio transmitter was responsible for converting electronic oscillations to damage the glass, while others insisted glass had been bubbling before their eyes.
  • And It Stopped: After nearly 3,000 windshields had endured damage, Seattle police crime laboratory sergeant Max Allison famously declared that the pitting was “five percent hoodlum-ism and ninety-five percent hysteria.” Two days later, on April 17th, the pitting ceased.

Six decades later, odds are your windshield won’t encounter pitting as part of a mass delusion. However, if it is damaged for any reason, you can bring it to the professionals at Glass on the Move for a repair or replacement. To find out more information about our services, give us a call today at (510) 338-4791.


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