Top photo: Orbit (an observation tower by Anish Kapoor) and the Olympic Stadium
Bottom photos: the stingray-shaped Aquatics Center designed by Zaha Hadid and some apartments of the Olympic Village
Last month, while in London, I went on a tour of the area surrounding the Olympic Park. It being a two-hour walking tour, I expected the group to be made up of mostly young and middle-aged adults, but I found myself in the company of senior citizens – one of whom was right in the city when it hosted the first Olympic Games after World War II in 1948. Once my concern over their capacity to physically endure the tour was alleviated, it turned out to be an entertaining walk. It was definitely interesting hearing about what the older generation thought about all this new construction, in this part of London in particular.
A 25-minute tube ride from the royal palaces and government buildings of Westminster, East London is not what people typically associate with the city. Though it is home to the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, one of the two financial districts, it is also where some of the poorest neighborhoods in all of Britain are located. It is hoped that the Games, along with other new developments such as Westfield Stratford City (the largest urban shopping center in Europe, which opened last year and is right next to the Stadium and Aquatics Center), would help the regeneration of the area.
London 2012 is 100 days away. Like many people, I am curious to see how the city will absorb the rush of tourists, athletes and journalists. But beyond all this spectacle and celebration, I hope the legacy of these Games will be far better for London than the legacy of the 2004 Summer Olympics has been for Athens.