How The Olympics Completely Turned Around A Bad London neighbourhood

stratford london before the olympic park was built

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The centre of the 2012 London Olympics actually used to be an industrial backwater.The Olympic Park — which contains the Olympic Village, the Olympic Stadium, and seven other venues — sits on a plot of land in East London that Reuters described as “a patch of polluted wasteland” as recently as 2005.

But now the Stratford area of London has been uplifted by a host of improvements.

In addition to the gleaming venues, transportation infrastructure, and shopping, the 500-acre area has been improved with:

  • A new waterway. The River Lea has received a face lift after years of pollution. Invasive plant species were removed in favour of native wildlife.
  • New ground itself. The contaminated soil was entirely replaced with manufactured soil.
  • Massive green spaces. 300,000 wetland plants, 4,000 and 130,000 plants and bulbs make it the country’s largest urban park
  • New bridges made of gabion walls
  • A low-carbon energy facility that can power 10,000 homes

Sustainability ambassador Tim Smit was slightly hyperbolic in his praise for the revival, saying, “What you see is a real symbol of hope for some of the crappest places in the world.”

After the games, the area will become a part of the East London tech city. In addition, there are plans to turn the Olympic village into residential housing units once the festivities are over.

Even if those things don’t end up happening, the Games have already changed East London for the better.

We pulled a few photos from before and after the revitalization to give you an idea of how far the place has come.

The plot of land in Stratford was contaminated when London won its bid for the 2012 Olympics

The River Lea was polluted and full of trash

The face lift was remarkable, the park was completed a year before the games

This is what the area looks like today

The view from above

The Olympic Village, which should serve as housing for years to come

The site of the Aquatics centre before

The Aquatics centre today

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