How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

by Heather Robinette / Aug 08, 2016 /
Heather Robinette's picture

As the Rio Olympic Games get underway, I reminisce about the London Olympics just 4 short years ago. Although while studying abroad in London I missed seeing the Olympics by just a year, I was able to get a sneak peek during the summer of 2011 at the park during construction. Our group went on a walking tour and was able to see and learn about the construction. Being able to see it in person and then watch it a year later made it even more special. I can’t wait to revisit the area and see the transformation. Here is some information about what the park first looked like, as well as what you can expect to see today. I hope you make a trip out to East London!

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

Name

Originally called Olympic Park for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the park was renamed to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

Location

The park is located in East London and sits within Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, and Waltham boroughs. The area was originally just land and the committee chose to revitalize the area. Unlike some of the previous Olympic Parks that were built and no longer used, London’s goal was to continue to use the park well after the 2012 Summer Olympics. 
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Photo: Wikimedia Commons: EGFocus

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium is where many athletic events took place, as well as the Opening and Closing ceremonies. The stadium was built with 80,000 total seats, but with plans to repurpose the stadium afterwards so only 25,000 seats were permanent; the rest were removed once the games were completed. 
Below is a link where you can see all of the activities that take place at the stadium today.  
http://www.london-stadium.com/ 
You can also go on a self-guided stadium tour to see the stadium, explore the locker room, and sit in the stands. 
Olympic Stadium. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Olympic Stadium. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

The Orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit (or The Orbit for short) is a tall sculpture with an observation tower. It is Britain's largest piece of public art and a major tourist attraction. They have recently added a slide to The Orbit. When you purchase your ticket for the observation deck, you can also purchase a ticket to ride the world’s tallest, longest, and fastest tunnel slide. Personally, this will be on the top of my list when I return to London! 

Click on the link below to learn more about The Orbit and the slide. 
http://arcelormittalorbit.com/ 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
ArcelorMittalOrbit. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

VeloPark

VeloPark, now known as Lee Valley VeloPark, was built for the cycling competition and BMX competition. Just like the Olympic Stadium, the park was built with 6,000 permanent seats for the Velodrome and 6,000 temporary seats for the BMX circuit. Since then, a road cycle circuit and mountain bike course have been added for the public to use, as well as major events. 
Velo Park. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

Velo Park. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Wikimedia Commons: Felix O

Aquatics Centre

The Aquatics Centre hosted a range of swimming events during the Olympics, including swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo. Like many other venues, the building was modified once the games were over in order to be used by the public. In the image with the Orbit and Aquatics Centre in the back, you can see the wings that held temporary seating. During the games, there were 17,500 seats for the main area and 5,000 seats for the water polo venue. Once the games were completed, they removed the temporary seating and the facility now has 2,500 seats. The center is used for major events, as well as for community use. 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Wikimedia Commons: Bert Seghers

Aquatics Centre. From How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Aquatics Centre. How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

International Broadcast Centre

The International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre (IBC/MPC) hosted roughly 20,000 photographers and journalists during the Olympic Games. This area was the center of where everything media related took place. Once the games ended, they repurposed the building as employment space for local businesses. The IBC is now called Here East. The space offers offices and retail units. They plan to have all of the space fully operational by 2018. 

Check out the link below to learn more about Here East. 
http://hereeast.com/ 
How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

Athletes’ Village

During the games, the village was used to house athletes and officials. Since then, the area has been converted into homes for local people, and is known as the East Village. 

Click on the below link to learn more about the area, including retailers, entertainment, and housing. 
http://www.eastvillagelondon.co.uk/ 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London
Wikimedia Commons: Sludge G

Stratford City

Stratford City, now known as Westfield Stratford City, is a large retail and entertainment space adjacent to Olympic Park. It is one of the largest shopping center developments in the UK. This was used as a major stepping stone for revitalizing East London.   

Click the link below to learn more about the shopping mall. 
https://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

The London Olympics was not only Games for the world – the UK used it as an opportunity to help bring back an area of London that needed help. I hope this gives you some insight into what the area has to offer and will help you plan a trip to East London. Did I mention the tunnel slide? London is truly a unique city and I look forward to visiting again! 

How London's Olympic Games Brought Back East London

Heather Robinette is the London Study Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "During the summer of 2011, I studied abroad for six weeks in London at the University of Westminster with Academics Programs International. I graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I currently work as a marketing analyst for a small company in central Texas. I currently work as a marketing coordinator for a real estate firm in Las Vegas, NV. I am also pursuing my MBA. While I was abroad in London, I was able to create many unforgettable memories that I will never forget! My study abroad experience helped me gain various skills, but above all else, it helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me." You can find her online at http://www.heatherrobinette.com/

Photos courtesy and copyright Heather Robinette, except where noted