Stop 12 | Centennial Olympic Park

Billy Payne and Dan Quayle View the Future Park Site from the Roof of the Inforum Building

Billy Payne and Dan Quayle View the Future Park Site from the Roof of the Inforum Building
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa 1992
Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

Techwood Drive with the Beck & Gregg Building Visible

Techwood Drive with the Beck & Gregg Building Visible
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, March 1995
Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

Techwood Drive Looking Northwest

Techwood Drive Looking Northwest
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, March 1995
Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

Aerial View of Future Centennial Olympic Park Land

Aerial View of Future Centennial Olympic Park Land
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, March 1995
Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa spring-summer 1995

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa spring-summer 1995

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa spring-summer 1995

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa spring-summer 1995

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing

Early Construction of Centennial Olympic Park Beginning Beck & Gregg Building to Land Clearing
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, circa spring-summer 1995

Aerial View of Centennial Olympic Park During the Olympic Games

Aerial View of Centennial Olympic Park During the Olympic Games
Unidentified photographer, Atlanta, July 1996
Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center

Opened: 1996 | Renovated: 2019 | Still in use

Wander around this 20+ acre greenspace in the city’s downtown. Many people would call the park the most obvious impact to the city from the 1996 Games. With main event venues on the southern edge of downtown to Georgia Tech’s campus, Atlanta’s Olympic organizers realized that the city’s downtown would be at the center of Olympic activity. In the early 1990s, this area was filled with warehouses, small businesses, and open lots, and bordered by aging public housing complexes. It was not prepared for a televised spectacle and there was nothing comparable to Plaça d'Espanya in Barcelona, an open plaza that served as a popular public gathering space during the 1992 Games, in Atlanta.

With other preparations underway, Olympic organizers coordinated with state agencies and leaders of downtown redevelopment projects to build a park on this site. Initial funds came from the private sector, including a grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Genuine Parts Company, one of the largest property owners in the area, donated their 4.5-acre parcel of land, including the Beck & Gregg building, to the park project. Olympic organizers proposed to cover approximately $15 million through a commemorative brick program. Individuals could customize an inscription on a brick paver in the park for $35. The organizers sold just over 330,000 bricks by the start of the Games and was relaunched in 2016 for the 20th anniversary of the Games. You can see inscribed bricks throughout the park.

During the Games, the northern portion of the park area, above Baker Street, was mostly occupied by Coca-Cola Olympic City. Filled with tents, entertainment stages, temporary exhibitions, and souvenir stations during the summer of 1996, this section of land has become a hub of city attractions in the years since. The park continues to spark urban redevelopment around its perimeter, as museums, attractions, venues, hotels, and restaurants cluster in this area. The state agency funded a renovation to the space in advance of the 2019 Super Bowl, closing off Andrew Young International Boulevard, which previously bisected the park, adding a plaza to commemorate the Paralympic Games, and improving landscaping, installations, and site lines.

Fun Finds

There are many pieces of public art installed throughout the park from the 1996 Games. How many can you find?