Last Updated: June 20, 2012 1:40pm
Mexico saw Bob Beamon leap into history while it was also the birthplace of the Fosbury flop - the high jump style perfected by American Dick Fosbury which also won him a gold medal.
The IOC took something of a risk with the Games being one of a number of firsts - it was the first time the Olympics were staged in a developing nation, a first for a Spanish-speaking country and the only one to date to be held in Latin America.
Mexico City was also a controversial choice because of the city's high altitude which meant that the air contained 30% less oxygen than at sea level.
The conditions proved disastrous for endurance athletes but there were world records in all of the men's races that were 400m or shorter, including both relays, and in the long jump and triple jump as well.
East Germany and West Germany showed up to the summer Games as separate countries for the first time - something that would continue until 1992 in Barcelona.
Bob Beamon's first attempt in the long jump was so long that the optical measuring device slid off its rail before it reached Beamon's point of impact and the judges had to use a metal tape measure to record the spectacular distance of 8.90m - a world record which would last for 22 years.
Mexico was also the birthplace of the Fosbury flop - the high jump style perfected by American Dick Fosbury which won him the gold medal.
Great Britain's David Hemery won gold in the 400m hurdles in his country's only athletics title, with his being one of five golds and 13 medals overall from the Games.
Sex testing for women was also introduced for the first time while the Games also saw the first drug disqualification, as Sweden's modern pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall tested positive - for excessive alcohol.
Electronic times were used as the official ones for the first time in athletics, cycling, rowing, canoeing, swimming and equestrian competitions, while the athletics running track had a synthetic surface for the first time.
Jacques Rogge competed in the first of three Olympics in sailing - he would later go on to become the president of the International Olympic Committee.
North Korea withdrew its athletes just before the start after the IOC refused to name them the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK.Olympic Stars:
Dick Fosbury ensured his name would live forever in track and field as he stunned Mexico by producing a new way to clear the long jump bar with his backwards 'Fosbury Flop'.
Fosbury took gold with his new method, replacing the usual scissor-jump method used by everyone else, and his method was soon employed by every high jumper around the globe.
Bob Beamon took advantage of the altitude to leap an astonishing 8.90m through the thin Mexican air to claim long jump gold and set one of the longest-standing records in athletics.
It was the size of the new longest ever jump, breaking the old mark by 55 centimetres, which caused such a stir, and Beamon's mark stood for a whopping 23 years before being broken by Mike Powell in 1991.
Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska won four golds and two silver medals in Mexico, but it was the manner of her defiant but dignified protests against the Soviet Union's invasion of her homeland that made her a heroine of the Games.
Caslavska also suffered two controversial judging decisions and simply bowed her head and turned away during the Soviet anthem, and although revered by many in Czechoslovakia the her federation banned her from competition and international travel for years afterwards as a result.
American Al Oerter chucked his discuss an Olympic record distance of 64.78 in Mexico to claim the men's gold for the fourth consecutive time - the first athlete to do this in athletics and just the second to win four individual titles in a row.
Aged 32 in Mexico and behind other challengers in his average distances for the year, giant New Yorker Oerter raised his game for one big push in Mexico to grab his own slice of Olympic history.
DOB: 17/5/1956 Event: Boxing Medals: 1 gold Flag: USA
A week into the Games of the XXX Olympiad, Richard Moore brings us his half-way highs and lows
Linford Christie sprinted to 100m gold for Britain at an Olympic Games best remembered for America's basketball dream team.