olympics

9 Historic Olympic Cities And What They Look Like Today

Some venues were repurposed and used for years after the games; others were abandoned and fell to disrepair.

1. Lake Placid, New York, 1932 — III Winter Olympic Games

James B. Sheffield Olympic Skating Rink

Paul Popper/Popperfoto / Getty Images

 

Then: The 1932 Winter Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, along with speedskating and ice hockey events, were held in the Olympic Skating Park. Seating was constructed along the rink to hold 7,500 spectators.

Now: The skating park was renovated to accommodate the 1980 Olympics. Between both Olympic Games, the rink hosted the local Lake Placid High School football games. The rink is now open for public skating.

Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex

Getty Images

 

Then: The Intervales Ski-Hill held a capacity of 9,200 spectators. The first ski jump was built in 1917 but was renovated a few times before hosting the 1932 Games.

Now: The original ski jump was demolished and rebuilt before the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. The site is now home to an Olympic training center — the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex.

2. Los Angeles, California, 1932 — X Summer Olympic Games

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

 

Then: The Coliseum opened in 1923 and was the first stadium to host two Olympic Games (1932 and 1984.) The stadium was home to the opening and closing ceremonies, along with the majority of track & field events for both Olympic Games.

Now: The stadium is one of the most historic venues in the United States, hosting many major sporting events over the years. The Olympic torch is re-lit for the fourth quarter of University of Southern California football games and during present-day Olympic Games.

Grand Olympic Auditorium

Creative Commons

 

Then: The Grand Olympic Auditorium was, at the time, the largest indoor venue at 15,300 seats. The building hosted wrestling, boxing, and weightlifting events throughout the games.

Now: After years of hosting concerts, professional wrestling, and rave parties, it is now home to the Glory Church of Jesus Christ, a Korean-American church, after being purchased in 2005.

3. Berlin, Germany, 1936 — XI Summer Olympic Games

Olympiastadion

Johannes Simon / Getty Images

 

Then: Berlin was awarded the 1936 Olympic Summer Games two years before the Nazi regime took control of Germany. The German Olympic Committee built Olympiastadion, a 100,000-plus-seat stadium, that they hoped impress the World.

Now: Since the 1936 Games, Olympiastadion has played host to many events, including three FIFA World Cup events and countless concerts. Olympiastadion went under a multimillion-dollar renovation in preparation for the 2006 World Cup.

Olympic Village outside of Berlin

 

Then: The Nazi regime was a huge presence throughout the Olympic Village, located in Estal, Germany (15 miles west of Berlin). Athletes were constantly watched over throughout the entire Olympic Games.

Now: The former Olympic Village is now deserted, except Jesse Owen’s dorm room, which has been kept fully intact.

4. Oslo, Norway, 1952 — VI Winter Olympic Games

Bislett Stadion

Thomas Starke / Getty Images

 

Then: The 1952 Winter Games marked the first time a Scandinavian country hosted the Winter Games. Bislett Stadion was used for the opening and closing ceremonies, along with speedskating events.

Now: The original stadium, which was voted one of the “top 20 sports venues of the 20th century,” was demolished in 2004 and replaced by New Bislett Stadion. The new stadium was a part of a failed bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics and a current bid for the 2022 Games.

Holmenkollbakken

Ragnar Singsaas / Getty Images

 

Then: Constructed in 1892, the ski jumping hill underwent a slew of renovations before the 1952 Games. A crowd in excess of 100,000 cheered on as Norway won the gold medal in ski jumping.

Now: Holmenkollbakken has hosted three World Championships since the 1952 Games. The structure was completely demolished and rebuilt between 2008 and 2010, in preparation for the 2011 World Championships.

5. Sapporo, Japan, 1972 — XI Winter Olympic Games

Mt. Teine Bobsleigh Course

Getty Images

Florian Seidel / Abandoned Kansa

 

Then: The 1972 Winter Games were the first winter games to be held outside of North America and Europe. The track was built between 1969 and 1972, and it took workers 20 days to create ice on the run that was 5 inches thick. A total of 127 lamps lit the track so competition could take place at night.

Now: The track was dismantled and abandoned after Nagano was awarded the 1998 Winter Games. The original bobsled house is still standing but is empty and ridden with graffiti.

6. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, 1984 — XIV Winter Olympic Games

Valter Defends Sarajevo

panoramio.com

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

 

Then: The 1984 Winter Games marked the second consecutive Olympics to be held in a communist state. The bobsled track was constructed in 1982 on the Trebević Mountains, which overlooks the city of Sarajevo.

Now: The bobsled track is mostly intact, except it is now home to overgrown foliage and graffiti. The majority of venues from the 1984 Games have been deserted and sprayed with bullet holes from the Bosnian War of the ’90s.

7. Calgary, Canada, 1988 — XV Winter Olympic Games

Paskapoo Ski Hill

Getty Images

 

Then: The ski hill was a part of the Canada Olympic Park during the 1988 Winter Games. The venue held 35,000 spectators and overlooked the city of Calgary.

Now: Various phases of renovation have been done to the park since the Olympics left town, but the Canada Olympic Park is still actively used during the winter months, along with the summer months for mountain biking and festivals.

8. Athens, Greece, 2004 — XXVIII Summer Olympic Games

Olympic Stadium Spyros Louis

Getty Images

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

 

Then: The Olympic Stadium was built in the early ’80s but renovated in preparation for the 2004 Games. These Games marked the first time the Olympics were held in Greece since 1896.

Now: The stadium is one of the few venues from the 2004 Games that is still in use. It’s played host to many major events, including the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final and stadium rock concerts.

Hellinikon Olympic Softball Stadium

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Angelos Tzortzinis / AP

 

Then: Constructed in 2004, the venue held in excess of 4,000 spectators and hosted the entire Olympic softball competition.

Now: Although it is not technically “abandoned,” the stadium has not held a softball game inside since the gold medal final in the 2004 Olympics.

Faliro Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre

Ian Waldie / Getty Images

Yorgos Karahalis / Reuters

 

Then: The stadium was built to hold over 9,000 spectators and hosted all beach volleyball events during the 2004 Games.

Now: Overgrown with grass and sitting empty, the stadium now joins the long list of wasted Olympic venues.

9. Beijing, China, 2008 — XXIX Summer Olympic Games

Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground

Getty Images

David Gray / Reuters

 

Then: The volleyball grounds was one of nine temporary Olympic venues that hosted events, including one main grounds that was surrounded by six training courts on the outside.

Now: Only six years have passed and the grounds have since been left empty. The structure remains intact, but the decorations and banners, which hung from the building, are now torn and falling down.

Beijing National Aquatic Center

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

 

Then: Built over a span of three years, the “Water Cube” was spectacle during the 2008 Games. Close to 17,000 spectators watched 25 World Records broken during the events, along with Michael Phelps’ winning a record eight gold medals during the games.

Now: A massive renovation took place after the Olympics left town, turning the inside into a water park. The building and water park have even won awards for innovation and engineering.

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