Los Alamos (Spanish: Los Álamos, meaning "The Cottonwoods" or "The Poplars") is a town in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, United States that is recognized as the birthplace of the atomic bomb—the primary objective of the Manhattan Project by Los Alamos National Laboratory during World War II. The town is located on four mesas of the Pajarito Plateau, and has a population of 12,019. It is the county seat and one of two population centers in the county known as census-designated places (CDPs); the other is White Rock.
Los Alamos is built on the Pajarito Plateau between White Rock Canyon and the Valles Caldera. The first settlers on the plateau are thought to be Keres speaking Native Americans around the 10th century. Around 1300, Tewa settlers immigrated from the Four Corners Region and built large cities but were driven out within 50 years by Navajo and Apache raids and by drought. Both the Keres and Tewa towns can be seen today in the ruins of Bandelier National Monument and Tsankawi.
The land of the plateau was then divided up for homesteading. Most residents of the plateau built simple log cabins that they only lived in during warm weather to feed livestock, with the homesteaders moving down to the warmer Rio Grande Valley. Homesteader Harold H. Brook sold part of his land and buildings to Detroit businessman Ashley Pond II in 1917 which began the Los Alamos Ranch School, named after the aspen trees that blossomed in the spring.
In 1942, during World War II, the Department of War began looking for a remote location for the Manhattan Project.