Japanese Empire (East Asia), 1940
Tokyo in distress
Two major events within 25 years of each other forever altered Tokyo – the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, and the 1945 firebombings during the Pacific War. The earthquake, which killed 142,000 people and created firestorms that raged for three days, erased much of the modern urban landscape built during the Meiji era. The wartime firebombings flattened Tokyo’s shitamachi, the oldest residential areas of the capital and, with those, the remaining vestiges of feudal-era Edo.
Occupied Tokyo, 1945
Beginning with the introduction of a 29-km stretch of railroad in 1872 linkng Tokyo, the capital, with the port city of Yokohama, Japan was able to rapidly embark on and expand its modernization goals from urban cores into rural hinterlands. By 1903, over 5000-miles of national and private railway had been laid throughout the Home Islands. Add to that the many hundreds of miles of streetcar track crisscrossing Tokyo’s canals and modern boulevards, from industrial low-city shitamachi to affluent high-city yamanote – plus, the rapid expansion of city bus services in the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake – and Tokyo was able to transport its growing population (under 1-million persons in 1870; more than 6 million persons in 1940) to work, rest and recreation.
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