GOOD

Tragic Time Capsules: Capturing the Decay of Forgotten Olympic Venues

Cities spend billions getting themselves all dolled up for the big dance. But what happens to all those old prom dresses?

In a new project called "The Olympic City," photographer Jon Pack and filmmaker Gary Hustwit are taking a close look at what the Olympic Games leave behind. Cities spend billions getting themselves all dolled up for the big dance. But what happens to all those old prom dresses? Some of the grand structures built for the Olympics have had second lives as malls, churches, even prisons; others have fallen into desuetude. Pack and Hustwit bring a healthy skepticism to their project, questioning the real, lasting benefit of the Games for host cities. Their Kickstarter- funded project will produce a limited edition hard cover book and a digital edition documenting their trips to former Olympic sites in Los Angeles, Montreal, Lake Placid, Athens, Rome, and Mexico City, with several others to be added this summer and fall.

GOOD: What sparked the idea for this project?


JON PACK: I found myself thinking about old Olympic host cities a lot during the 2008 Beijing games. It was intriguing to me that so much of the coverage in the weeks leading up to those Games focused more on how much money the city was spending than anything else. They were the first Olympics where I knew more about the stadiums and how many fireworks would be used in the opening ceremonies than I did about who was favored in women’s gymnastics. It made me first wonder what would have happened if my home city of New York had won its bid for the Games instead of London. I honestly couldn’t imagine how much my landscape would potentially have changed, and for what, in the end? These big cities and small villages that have hosted the Games have done so in vastly different ways and for plenty of different reasons, but at the end of it all, it’s always the same result: the closing ceremonies. It’s like they’re all exes of the Olympics. I wondered (and I’m still wondering) what these cities and their citizens are really left with after the Games pack up and leave.

GOOD: What kinds of problems do the Olympics create for host cities, either in the days after the games or the decades after?\n

GARY HUSTWIT: I think the biggest problem is when short-term urban planning meets long-term realities in cities. Does a city really need a dozen new stadiums and arenas, at a cost of billions, or are there more pressing issues that money should go towards? In some cases there’s massive displacement of communities in areas where this construction is going to happen, as we’ve seen in London and in Rio, where the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held.

GOOD: Are there any cities that seem very negatively affected by the legacy of the Olympics?\n

HUSTWIT: In recent history, Athens seems to be the city that’s been the most negatively affected. They spent $15 billion dollars on construction of new sports facilities that are sitting unused eight years later. I’m not saying that caused the Greek financial crisis, but it sure didn’t help matters.

GOOD: Do you think there are ways Olympic development and building can be approached differently to take into account a city’s long-term interests?\n

HUSTWIT: Well, I think cities need to think hard about exactly why they want to host a spectacle like the Olympics. If there’s a way to integrate Olympic-related development into the organic growth or re-generation of a city, or if the development is designed to be temporary, then it can make sense. There’s been a lot of discussion around London’s legacy plan; they’ve built some facilities that are meant to be dismantled after the games. We’re planning on photographing London for the project, but only after the Games are over.

GOOD: In the year 2050, how will (or how should) preparation for the games affect a host city?



HUSTWIT: Will there even be an Olympic Games in 2050? Seriously, I think it’s too far away to predict what global sporting events will still exist in 40 years, and what cities’ priorities will be. If the basic provisions of Kyoto are achieved by then, I’m not sure flying hundreds of thousands of people around the world to watch other people run around a track will make sense anymore. But I guess we’ll always to be drawn to the spectacle, so who knows.
Slideshows

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture