Peace Memorial Museum

Images from a new online exhibit from Google.

The above tricycle belonged to a toddler, nearly 4 years old, who was riding in front of his house when American planes dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima 68 years ago this August. The child, Shinichi Tetsutani, died that night, and his family later buried his bike alongside him. It remained underground for 40 years, until, in 1985, the boy's family dug up his grave to transfer him to a family plot. They gave the tricycle to Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Museum.

As of this week, it now lives online, archived in Google's Cultural Institute, a kind of cyber window into some of the world's brick-and-mortar museums. Google unveiled a new collection of images and artifacts from the bombings that utterly changed the two Japanese cities at the end of World War II. As urban history lessons go, these digital exhibits are eerily static, somber, barren, the opposite of how we normally talk about cities as symbols of dynamism and progress. Hiroshima and Nagaski, in contrast, are lessons in cities as targets.

The material, from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, shows neighborhoods torn down instead of built up. It shows time stopped instead of speeding by. It shows urban streets without any residents at all. The site is worth a visit if you don't think you'll make it to Japan in person any time soon.

A pocket watch stopped 1,640 meters from the Hiroshima hypocenter, via the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Nagasaki Atomic Museum
Shiroyama National School in Nagasaki, via Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Top image via the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  2. An apartment building with a sign reading "free rent."
    Equity

    If Rent Were Affordable, the Average Household Would Save $6,200 a Year

    A new analysis points to the benefits of ending the severe affordability crisis.

  3. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.

  4. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  5. A prospective buyer looks at a rendering of a new apartment complex in Seoul in 2005.
    Design

    Why Koreans Shun the Suburbs

    In cities around the world, harried urbanites look to the suburbs for more space or a nicer house for their money. But in South Korea, the city apartment is still the dream.