The River Lea meanders through it, wildflowers lining its banks, ducks floating along its waters. You could close your eyes and imagine you were in the countryside. However, you are in Olympic Park in London's
only five kilometres from downtown. The Olympic Park stands on 2.5 kilometres of
reclaimed land which has been completely renovated. In 2007, Olympic workers began excavating the
area: they tore down 52 power towers,
200 buildings and removed tonnes of garbage which had been accumulating since
the start of the Industrial Revolution.
At 30 feet down, they found a Victorian street. It’s almost like
all over again. Although they did not
find any bodies, I’m sure they found some interesting artefacts. It would be interesting to imagine what that
neighbourhood looked like in 1948 during the last London Olympics. Who walked its rubble ridden post-Blitz
streets? War veterans? Businessmen?
Shoppers? Who lived in its
houses? Who worked in its
businesses? Who rode its busses? How many homeless people walked its
streets? Or what did it look like during
the London Olympics of 1908? Who walked
the banks of the River Lea? Who fed the
ducks as they swam by? Who lived in its
tenements? Who worked in its
factories? Who operated its trolley
busses? Who lit its streetlamps? How much coal smoke hung in the air? How many “street arabs” roamed its
2012 is coming alive today with the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. The Olympic Stadium, home to 8 venues, will
be filled with 80,000 spectators. The
Olympic Village will house 17,000 athletes.
Adjacent to it will be acres of green space. For a fortnight, London
will be host to hundreds of nations. And
once the closing ceremonies take place, and the athletes go home, they will
dismantle Olympic Park (some not all).
The lower tier of the stadium will remain as a community centre. Half of the Olympic Village units will be
converted to social housing. A new generation
of Londoners will occupy the London East End. The Games have breathed new life into a dying
Photo courtesy http://farm5.staticflickr.com.