Image: Broadway, New York City, 1860s, Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Broadway was a beautifully chaotic boulevard in 1872, and the Iwakura delegation were in awe of the multitude of New Yorkers commuting by carriage, bus, and on foot. Kunitake Kume wrote that the density of the city was unmatched by anything they had experienced before. It seemed as if all roads led back to New York City – a metaphorical Rome for the modern era. The delegates thought Broadway’s cobblestone roads, lined with businesses and stalls selling all types of goods, was comparable to a festival. It seemed to them the busiest street in the world!


Kume, Kunitake, Chushichi Tsuzuki, and R. Jules Young. 2009. Japan rising: the Iwakura embassy to the USA and Europe 1871-1873. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.