Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics

By Matthew J. Burbank; Gregory D. Andranovich et al. | Go to book overview

5
ATLANTA AND
THE 1996 SUMMER GAMES

The success of the Los Angeles games put the Olympics in a new light for city leaders across the nation. Atlanta, a city whose leaders were concerned with its image and always looking for promising opportunities, pursued this appealing new development strategy and landed the 1996 Centennial Olympic games. In this chapter we investigate Atlanta's experience, focusing on the relationship between the Olympics and the politics of urban revitalization. The chapter begins with an overview of image-building politics in Atlanta, then turns to a detailed examination of the process of bidding for and organizing the Centennial Olympic games. It concludes with an assessment of Atlanta's Olympic legacy.


The City and Its Politics

Atlanta, the self-proclaimed capital of the New South, has been a city united by its desire for economic growth and driven by its penchant for self-promotion. Lacking any natural or geographically defining features, Atlanta owes its existence to the building of the Western and Atlantic Railroad's southeastern terminus. The railroad anchored the fledgling city between rivers that flowed to the Gulf and the Atlantic and allowed it to secure freight that was moving from the South to the West or the Northeast (Doyle 1990, 33). Irish rail workers established a town near the railroad juncture. Variously referred to as Terminus or Marthasville, the town was incorporated in 1847 and renamed Atlanta. The name was “invented by local promoters to suggest its role

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