For Host Cities, Olympic Legacies Are Mixed

The two-week competition is often touted as a galvanizing force for urban development. But that's only cities include the Games' legacy in their planning process from the start.

2 minute read

August 25, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

London 2012 Olympic Games

Alistair Ross / Flickr

"Is hosting the Olympics worth it? Though organizers will invariably say yes, the truth is more complex than a yes or a no, and differs greatly based on the city." In an in-depth piece, Nate Berg explores the legacy of the Olympic Games for several cities, featuring Athens and London. 

"For the modern era, Athens and London offer two contrasting examples of what cities can get from hosting the Olympics—a collection of unusable, debt-collecting sports venues or a catalyst for the regeneration of a huge swath of the city." Around London's Olympic venue, lots of new housing is under construction. Athens, on the other hand, is using some facilities to house refugees.

Of course, whether Olympics are successful after they're over has a lot to do with national conditions. But individual host cities' choices can play a bigger role. For instance, "Los Angeles's 1984 Olympics have proven to be one of the most fiscally responsible Olympics, which the city achieved by reusing many existing venues from its previous hosting stint in 1932 and other sites throughout the city."

Recently, London stands out as a city that focused its preparation on what would happen after the Games ended. Berg writes, "The Olympic site and its fringes are expected to see the development of about 10,000 new residential units by 2030, some directly related to the Olympic planning and some developed privately."

Now that the Games in Rio are over (and thankfully without any major disasters), we'll have to keep tabs on whether the city's preparations pay off in the long term.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 in Curbed

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Walkway at San Gabriel River Park.

From Duck Farm to Parkland

The opening of the San Gabriel River Park expands access to green spaces for residents in the San Gabriel Valley, especially for Avocado Heights and other park-poor communities in the area.

5 hours ago - San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Oak tree with golden hour sun coming through its leaves on a hill in the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California.

Southern California’s Oak Trees are Under Threat

Goldspotted oak borers (GSOB) are invasive pests that are harming and killing oak trees across San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles counties.

6 hours ago - Los Angeles Times

Close-up of natural gas stove burner with blue flames.

Berkeley Voters to Decide on Building Gas Tax

The city could tax large buildings that use gas in lieu of enacting a law that would have banned gas-powered buildings altogether.

7 hours ago - Smart Cities Dive

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.