Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
A photographic tour of the city's late Summer Games.
On October 10, 1964, the Olympic torch arrived at Tokyo's National Stadium to mark the beginning of the Summer Games—held late to avoid the city's blazing seasonal heat. It was a heavily symbolic occasion for Japan. Its infrastructure destroyed and international reputation tarnished after World War II, the games showed the world that Japan was a peaceful and progressive nation once again.
Tokyo, annihilated in 1945 by U.S. air raids during WWII, saw its population rise exponentially in the decade leading up to the Olympics, surpassing 10 million residents by the time the games began, more than doubling its population from 1950.
Awarded the '64 Games in 1959, Tokyo went on a construction spree, with new buildings, highways, bullet trains, and subways all opening in time for the international event.
Courtesy of AP photographers of the time, here is a glimpse of the city leading up to the Olympics. Student protests, weird robots, and modernist architecture reveal a city long removed from its imperialist past: