Akihabara Station, Tokyo, c. 1935.

1930sHistoric DistrictNotable LandmarkTransportation
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“Elevated railroad” [高架線], Akihabara Station, Tokyo, c. 1935, illustrating the criss-cross design of the station. The Yamanote Line runs north-south; the Sobu Line transits east-west. The gist of the cartoon dialogue is along the lines of “Wow! The double-elevated lines make for a lot of trafffic!” “And when you add the streetcar and the subway, it’s a quadruple ‘fist’.”
Akihabara was at its very start as a freight terminal when a railway siding was first opened in November 1890, connecting it to the larger marshaling yard at Shimbashi. The siding became a passenger station in 1925 with the final completion of the Yamanote Line between Ueno and Tokyo Station. Upper-level platforms, perpendicular to the Yamanote Line, were added in 1932 when the Sobu Line was extended west from Ryogoku across the Sumida River to Ochanomizu, making Akihabara an important transfer station for passengers arriving from Tokyo’s shitamachi and Chiba Prefecture.

See also:
Yurakucho (Tokyo) Station opening, 1910.
Ueno Station, c. 1930-1950.
Tokyo Station, 1914-1940.

“[Akihabara ‘Electric City’] started after World War II as an open-air market located between Ogawamachi and Kanda-Sudacho in Tokyo. At first all the stores sold textiles and everyday goods. But one incident turned most of the stores into electrical shops almost overnight.

Map: Akihabara Station, c. 1935. The Yamanote Line runs north-south; the Chuo-Sobu Line runs east-west. (Click image to enlarge.)

“One shop began stocking secondhand vacuum tubes, a basic radio part, for students of a nearby electrical engineering school, today’s Tokyo Denki University. These became an instant hit with the students, who used them to make and repair radios, then the main source of entertainment in Japan. This prompted other shops in the market to stock vacuum tubes and other electronic parts. By 1950, of the 120 shops in the district, about 50 specialized in electronics.

“In 1948 the Allied Occupation’s GHQ ordered all open-air shop owners off the streets to enable roads to be rebuilt. The Tokyo metropolitan government, with the help of the now-defunct Japan National Railway, prepared new accommodations for the shops under the elevated railway tracks of Akihabara Station. From this beginning the district developed into a distinctive retail area.”

‘Akihabara: The World’s Most Famous Electronic Toy Town’, by Pradyumna P. Karan, Japan in the 21st Century, 2005

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