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Atlanta (Summer 1996)

Boom or Bust? Boom

Although the Games were at times chaotic, marred by transport problems, a pipe bomb that killed a visitor and criticized for being overly commercial, Atlanta has one of the strongest Olympic legacies.

The commercial sponsorship of the Games, which cost around $1.8 billion, meant that Atlanta broke even and was not left with large debts. The two arenas constructed for the Games were developed with their after-use in mind and are now home to Atlanta’s football and baseball teams, the Falcons and the Braves.

But it was how the Games regenerated Atlanta’s inner-city areas that left the biggest mark. Centennial Olympic Park (pictured here), was built in what was a rough part of town and is now a centerpiece of downtown Atlanta’s revitalization, with several major high rises, museums and attractions built on its periphery and 20 percent of the tax generated going to poorer areas. The Olympic Village is used by Georgia Tech University as dormitories, and investments by the city to the area around it have revitalized what was a downtrodden neighborhood. Dahshi Marshall, a transportation planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission, told The New York Times: “The games served as a catalyst for Atlanta’s urban renaissance that is still going on today.”

Photo: Andrea Pistolesi | Getty Images