Being a predominantly industrial city Hitachi was badly damaged in World War II, including shelling by the Iowa, and very few older buildings now remain in the downtown area. Industry continued after the war, and Hitachi was a small urban center for northern Ibaraki. Some factories have since closed, and Hitachi is now losing population, like much of Japan. Moreover, the downtown area, especially Ginza Dori, a busy pedestrianized shopping street into the 1990s, has experienced urban decay due to supermarkets and big box stores being built outside of downtown. Because of the increasing car traffic related to the urban sprawl, a bypass around central Hitachi was built, destroying a local beach.
Nevertheless, the city is not without interesting local sites. Like many Japanese cities, many of the public spaces are dedicated to symbolising the struggle for peace in the post-war world. It is in this spirit that one must consider Heiwa Dori (Peace Street). Every April there is a major procession down the broad tree-lined boulevard to celebrate the arrival of the cherry blossom season (SakuraMatsuri). Giant colourful floats called furyumono are carried by the local people. Hitachi also has a small zoo on the nearby Mount Kamine and an impressive Civic Center complex near the main station.
Hitachi was an important military target in the war efforts against Japan during WWII. This was because Hitachi was a major industrial center, which contained 6 factories for the production of electrical equipment. It also had a copper mine that contained 1/10 of all of Japan's copper. The attack was meant to destroy industries and decrease Japan's recuperative potential. It took place on July 19, 1945 when the battleships USS Iowa (BB-61). USS Missouri (BB-63), and USS Wisconsin (BB-64) bombarded the city. Of the city's 1.38 Sq. Miles at the time, 64.5% of Hitachi was destroyed.