Back in September we gave you a list of the four cities the United States Olympic Committee was weighing for a bid at hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. At the time, the choices were Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, but Boston has emerged as the official choice of the USOC. Whether or not this is a good thing depends largely on how you feel about the IOC, Olympic development, and the idea of millions of tourists having to navigate a city that’s decidedly unfriendly to outsiders when it comes to matters of geography. And we know that NoBostonOlympics, among others, are on one fairly self-evident side of the fence.
While the merits of the economic impact of being a host city for the Olympic Games are certainly worth a discussion and a debate, we’re not here to convince you one way or the other. Instead, we’re taking this opportunity to look back at the U.S.’s history as an Olympic host, and examining all the cities that have provided the backdrop for international competition. If selected Boston would be the seventh American city to hold the competition. The other six are listed alphabetically below.
1. Atlanta, Ga. — 1996
The last Summer Olympics to be held in the United States, the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, are perhaps best remembered today for the Centennial Park Bombing and somber discussions about the enduring takeaways from the events, if there are any to be had at all. Famously beating out Athens, Greece, as the location — a factoid which seems even more mind-boggling two decades later — the billion dollar reconstruction of the city is still being evaluated today.
2. Lake Placid, N.Y. — 1932, 1980
While the 1932 Winter Olympics were notable for being so early on in the competition’s history (they’re officially Olympic Games III, if you’re into the whole Roman Numeral thing), the first iteration of the Lake Placid Games doesn’t have a whole lot on the 1980 version, at least in terms of emotional and historic cache. The 1980 Games, after all, were the site of the Miracle on Ice, when the USA Men’s Hockey Team defeated the USSR’s squad of full-time (but still amateur, in accordance with the rules) hockey players.
3. Los Angeles, Calif. — 1932, 1984
The other American city to have hosted a pair of Olympic tournaments, L.A. was actually the only city to submit a bid back in 1932, making it the de facto choice for the competition. The ’32 Games also lead to the inaugural Olympic Village, spawning a tradition that still continues today. As for 1984, while it didn’t have a Miracle on Ice moment, it is still the most profitable Olympic Games in the country’s history.
4. Salt Lake City, Utah — 2002
The most controversial host city in U.S. Olympic history, with both the bid process and the judges’ decisions during the pairs figure skating competition, you could almost forget that this was also the event that helped Mitt Romney set the foundation for his dogged pursuit of the presidency. Seriously.
5. St. Louis, Mo. — 1904
The first Olympics to be held outside of Europe, the 1904 Games were held in St. Louis after originally being slated for Chicago, and is so shrouded in the mysteries of time that no official record of who won what actually exists. That’s not to say we don’t know anything about what transpired, and if you’re in the mood for some interesting stories, you’d be hard pressed to do better than the marathon, which includes death, PEDS, and a winner who lied about finishing the race.
6. Squaw Valley, Calif. — 1960
Last but not least, the 1960 Winter Olympics were held at Squaw Valley, a snowy California area that still houses a ski resort today. While the drama may not have been in as much abundance as the other years and cities on this list, looking back at their cutting edge snowmaking technology is pretty cool. At least, we think it’s pretty cool.
As for Boston, while an official selection for a bid is just that — and there’s still eight months before countries can’t submit others — it still represents the biggest Olympic stage the city has ever been on. The winner for the bid will be announced in 2017, and we’re sure that there will be loads of construction in New England before then. We expect echoes of the Big Dig, do you?