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Legacy Leverage, Urbanism and City Renewal in Sydney and London

It is imperative to note that temporary occasions in cities act as opportunities to leverage legacy within the existing neighborhoods and communities. Notably, the legacy is perceived to cause long-term effects on the environment within host cities (Bramwell 1997, p.169). Therefore, the concept of legacy has been perceived to be meaningful in contemporary events due to its effects on neighborhoods and the immediate environment.

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It is essential to note that the effect of legacy on urban cities remains controversial and the debate is still raging on (Bramwell 1997, p.167). Nevertheless, it is definite that sporting activities are significant drivers as well as key instruments that bring about urban renewal (Ritchie 2000, p.156). Therefore, this essay offers a detailed discussion on the concept of legacy and issues related to urban renewal. In addition, the paper will consider the London and Sydney Olympics games as examples to examine whether their legacies have been a success or failure.

From a careful review of the literature, one can conclude that there are special preparations that are made during major events that leave a legacy in the host cities. This was witnessed way back in the year 2000 in Sydney and the Olympic periods between 1896 and 1996 in London (Ritchie 2000, p.158). Research has revealed that these events triggered numerous improvements that could be described as successful in host cities.

Needless to say, it is evident that the scale of improvement and renewal of urban cities vary a lot (Ritchie 2000, p.158). It is also evident that sporting activities are often regarded as hallmark events that result in massive and spontaneous international interaction in host cities. Notably, international participation usually leaves long-term effects among the host cities. Empirical evidence has shown that the legacy set by sporting activities acts as a considerable investment in host cities since they trigger infrastructural renewal as part and parcel of preparing for sports events.

According to Bramwell (1997, p.169), the legacy is realized after the end of the events whereby the host cities demonstrate improvements and reconstructions. Moreover, it is arguable that sports events also act as catalysts towards enhancing sound urban policies. Bramwell (1997, p.169) points out that major developments that result from sporting events have highly influenced contemporary landscapes of many urban centers as a reminder of past events.

From this argument, Paddison (1993, p.339) notes that Olympic Games have for long been used as prospects for urban renewal. Needless to say, such events have also been perceived to boost the urban economy, a factor that is associated with industrialization and modernity.

In line with this, it is imperative to note that host cities will often struggle to ensure that both the physical environments as well as immediate neighborhoods are safeguarded against any possible harmful effects resulting from such sporting activities. For instance, during the year 2000 games in Sydney, a pledge was made in relation to environmental conservation (Searle 2002, p.848).

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The bid entailed measures that would be taken to conserve water, minimize waste, improve air quality and maintenance of acceptable standards of soil resources. In this case, it is definite to argue that sporting events foster the protection of the physical environment in the neighborhoods. Needless to say, during the Olympic periods and specifically in London, the government will usually take initiative to monitor the environment within which the events will take place (Paddison1993, p.339).

Of greatest importance to note is that during preparations of the forthcoming sporting events, the neighboring community is aware and prepared for numerous changes that take place. In most cases, they also participate to improve the situation, a factor that boosts the host city’s legacy (Paddison1993, p.339). It is factual that in most cases, environmental reconstruction is done seven years before the forthcoming Olympic Games. Notably, major changes are observed in the host city and specifically the viability of transport infrastructure.

That notwithstanding, it is also worth mentioning that temporary sporting events in cities leverage legacy for existing neighborhoods and communities. In this case, urban spectacles that are developed due to sporting activities have been perceived as landmarks for post-modernity.

This means that the development boosts the status of the city and also redefines its image. Consequently, this attracts inward investments by the community in order to underpin the renewal and regeneration of the new infrastructure (Paddison1993, p. 340). It is apparent that sports such as those that have been held in London and Sydney act as international showcases since they foster the image, reputation and global recognition of the cities.

Having become the attention of international media, this compels the host country to adopt improved architectural and planning designs in urban centers. In most cases, this opportunity often turns into a new ground for new forms of designs and innovation in order to maintain the city’s image.

This perspective on urban development and renewal in relation to sports explains why Bramwell (1997, p.170) argues that since such events periodically recur, they play a significant role and as such, have a potential to leave a lasting legacy in host countries. Furthermore, it is vital to note that the resulting legacy provides a sustainable solution to the immediate community and the neighborhoods in host cities.

Needless to say, the most common legacy for the communities is the issue of cultural exchange whereby natives interact with international visitors in a free and peaceful manner (Brogan 1996, p. 314). Moreover, these events provide forums for innovative marketing through exchange of ideas that eventually lead to comparative advantage in carrying out trading activities.

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It is imperative to note that although sporting events in host countries are beneficial; there are negative effects that are sometimes inevitable (Brogan 1996, p. 314). As a matter of fact, the perception that sports often leave a lasting legacy can be both a failure and success at the same time to the host cities. It is worth reiterating that the aforementioned effects of the legacy to the cities can be perceived as success. On the other hand, it is important to point out the negative effects that demonstrate failure of these events in the host cities.

For instance, Brogan (1996, p. 315) asserts that once in a while, the staging of Olympic Games have adverse effects to the inhabitants of the cities. Notably, though communities benefit directly from tangible facilities such as transport and building infrastructures, they definitely experience heightened disturbance especially during the process of preparations.

For instance, it is evident that preparing to stage Olympic Games and other sporting events need adequate monetary resources which are sometimes perceived as wasteful investments. Apparently, such preparations can indeed aggravate instead of improving urban problems. Moreover, research has revealed that most of costs used to fund the project are generated by overtaxing the citizens (Brogan 1996, p. 315).

To some extent, the events can cause negative publicity for the cities since they are strictly scrutinized by the international media. Therefore, the media might publish negative issues including the problems faced by the host city while staging the event. This might result into ruin of reputation and to some extent, the host city might not be in a position to improve its infrastructure due to huge costs incurred.

From a careful review of history, it is evident that most of the bids made by host countries to protect the physical environment are not always successful. For instance, the year 2000 Sydney games commonly known as the “green games” were posed by challenges since the prior bids made were quite cumbersome to deliver (Searle 2002, p.845).

This was attributed to the fact that there were vast costs to be incurred and the time frame available was very short. In this case, there was failure to ensure sustainability in the environment in terms of minimizing wastage of resources, waste avoidance and other significant issues (Searle 2002, p.847).

In addition, we do not need to overemphasize that hosting of the games causes disruptions and inconveniences to the urban architecture. For instance, during Olympic periods in London, most inhabitants opt to leave the city to give room for the preparations. In this case, major changes that occur due to urban renewal cause unexpected inconveniences to the urban dwellers (Ritchie 2000, p. 158).Moreover, instead of the community supporting the new architecture, they may grossly interfere with it. Consequently, this can act as a major hindrance to the renewal progress.

To reiterate on this, is apparent that temporary events such as Olympic Games often leave a legacy for the community and immediate neighborhoods of host cities. Notably, the concept of legacy has been disputed upon whereby some scholars perceive it as success while others as failure to the cities. Nevertheless, the concept of legacy on the community, environment and issues of urban renewal has both negative and positive effects.

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This implies that the legacy can result into failure or success in a host city. Some of the positive effects include boosting the image and reputation of the host city and accelerating urban renewal where numerous architectural designs and urban polices emerge to improve the urban township. Contrastingly, the legacy can cause negative publicity, damage physical environment and wastage of useful resources.

It is only in special cases where an entire city or town is made to focus on one particular aspect. In the case of London and Sydney, this was expected to happen during the Olympic Games. These two cities had to thoroughly prepare themselves in the most acceptable way as per the international standards. It was given that the people would be ceaselessly obsessed and geared up for the games. Indeed, it is true that the cities were up to a transforming experience.

Urbanism is a topic of study which seeks to explain the relationship between the dwellers of a city and the city’s environment (Ellin 2006, p. 200). Besides, cities are composed of social, political, economical and geographical characteristics. As such, urbanism explains the mechanism of the urban environment. It highlights how it is affected, gives the effects of urban renewal to the society and the course taken in the construction of cities (Lees 2009, p. 147).

It is true that international events give cities an opportunity to build a legacy for themselves. The Olympics had a long lasting impact on Sydney and London. The games were an important tool for transformation and urban renewal. Moreover, the mechanisms of urbanism, the issue of urban renewal and how the global event the Olympic Games led to the establishment of city legacies in its host cities Sydney and London still linger in the minds of many of these two city dwellers.

Development studies seek to improve uniqueness and innovativeness in all city programs. This type of studies mainly specializes in the development of urban designs which are outstanding and exceptional. Lupton (2005, p. 205) points out that it is important for cities to embrace cross cultural insights in their environments.

He adds that listening to the views of the whole fraternity of stakeholders and dwellers in a city ensures confidence in formulating and implementing grand visions (Lupton 2005, p. 207). The future of cities lies in the act of contemplated professional designs. The understanding of the relationship between the built and natural environment of a city is an appropriate beginning. A city is influenced by the political, economic, cultural and social lives of the people living around or within it (Rae 2005, p. 108).

Most legacies are being built through the application of the principle of sustainable urbanism as proposed by Roche (2000, p. 201). This notion is education centered. It advocates for an education which is classical enough to produce qualified professionals who can evaluate, understand and design quality cities. Moreover, education brings a total renewal of communities. This helps in creating participative urban populations which are out to champion for development.

According to Roche (2000, p. 47, the urban legacy philosophy calls for advancement of skills used in urban designs to make the path towards developing world-class cities. Proper incorporation of discourse and practical designs leads to production of attractive sites. Hence, urban environments become satisfying and bear a more permanent impact if they capture the delight of a large population. Additionally, it is worth to note that regeneration works that are largely triggered by factors such as temporary events play a key role. These should be executed carefully to ensure that the expectations of spectators and evaluators are relatively dealt with.

Sociologists, planners and architects are the major parties who mainly assisting in propagating the birth and growth of a city (Jones 2004, p. 112). The manner in which they study how life is led in densely populated areas take different perspectives in designing a city. The invention of the concept of “urbanism is a mode of life” by Jones (2004, p. 169) has led to the identification of cities with their physical placement rather than the structures.

It is true that a city goes beyond the boundary lines set by the municipal authorities. The life mode in cities influences all persons. Its effect is felt far and wide. A city is therefore an entity which has a give and get relationship with its dwellers. The developments in technology, communication and transportation extend the way of living in a city beyond its immediate confines. A city literally assimilates people into an urban lifestyle.

Change is the most important ingredient towards acknowledgeable development of cities (Ellin 2006, p. 234). The cities of this generation keep on changing to suit the natural modifications which come with different factors. The use of cultural inclusion in daily life has led to the establishment of cities which have stronger identity.

The efforts of international communities to create international cooperation and cohesion through international events are a base for city modification. Studies have revealed that many cities attain the status of fame through the technical approach of making a legacy (Lees 2009, p. 65). The authorities managing cities aspire to turn their places into famous centers of interest.

A city can be identified with one of the following attributes; an excellent infrastructure, a quality and unique design of urban planning and the special cultural practices of the people. For instance, the historical association of Athens in Greece with the traditional Olympics or an historical phenomenon (Roche 2000, p. 114).

Major events done in a given city give people a chance to learn more about the city. This happens before and during the activity since nations research on a place before giving it the full dispensation of hosting many them. The knowledge obtained about a city remains solid in the system regardless of whether the event was a success or a failure. This explains how the city continues capturing the attention of many.

Sydney is one of the main cities in Australia. It enjoyed a relatively high standard in the worlds rating of cities. This city was boosted by the hosting of the Olympic Games in 2000. The famous event enabled the city to hit the heads of history. This was mainly realized via the success which was demonstrated in setting the city into a strategic state which is highly appealing. London on the other hand has obtained a name from the well planned housing of the Olympics.

Indeed the concept of building great cities through legacy leverage achieved through events is evidently successful in London. Due to the Olympic Games, the city has experienced a restoration of its original planning. There is the making of new urban policies, great figures like the Olympic stadium have been constructed in bid to ensure stipulated smart designs useful in legacy building.

Using what is termed to as aesthetic effects of change, Rae (2005, p. 221) provides insights on how urban development can be attained within the establishment of a city. The author notes that sporting events are indeed crucial in setting the developmental phase of urban settings as it was the case with Sydney and London.

There are several spheres through which urban renewal take place. These include connecting planning and architecture, making improvement in public policy, general architectural designing, restorative urban designs, art of making places, designing smart growth, revision of cities’ infrastructure, landscape designing, vision formulating, community envisioning and an exercise of gathering public advocacy.

This process starts with a revision of the city’s infrastructure, followed by a constant re-evaluation of making vision as well as envisioning of all stakeholders (Lees 2009, p. 64). It culminates into a total transition of the whole city. In the case whereby a city is preparing to host an event, then the expected improvement is realized in due time.

Sydney and London achieved a spectacular gain by hosting the Olympics. Although it true to say that the period of the games was a stage for positive and negative occurrences, it is quite vivid to the public realm that a larger positive outcome was attained. The cities’ management marked a season of city maturity and stabilization. Great growth was achieved in the cities. This was attained by the rapid activation of civic pride, bars and restaurants, public utilities and streets during preparations to stage the great show.

In conclusion, it is clear that cities get energized when they successful host major global events such as sporting activities. The events come with a magnifying effect which transcends the given season. A good example has been illustrated by the discussion of London and Sydney in relation to the phenomenal Olympic Games. The two cities experienced an up to date leverage of their legacy in terms of being categorically famous cities across the world.

It is clear that the cities fully utilized the short moment of being the focus of the globe to gain the status of world class cities. In any case, there is evidence that Sydney obtained more publicity than London after the Olympic Games were over. This may not be disputed bearing in mind that the various changes that took place in both of these two cities are still noticeable up to date. As a middle class city, it experienced massive upgrading especially of its infrastructure as well as architectural designs of its old buildings.


Bramwell, B 1997, “Strategic planning before and after a mega-event.” Tourism Management, vol.18 no 1, pp. 167-176.

Brogan, P1996, “Cities and the ‘World events’ process”, Town & Country Planning vol. 65 no. 11, pp. 314–16.

Ellin, N 2006, Integral urbanism, Routledge, New York.

Jones, E 2004, The slaughter of cities: urban renewal as ethnic cleansing, St. Augustine’s Press, Michigan.

Lees, A 2009, “Between anxiety and admiration: views of British cities in Germany, 1835-1914”, Urban History, vol. 36 no. 1, pp. 42-66.

Lupton, R 2005, Renewing The City: Reflections On Community Development And Urban Renewal, Inter Varsity Press, Georgia.

Paddison, R 1993, “City marketing, image reconstruction and urban regeneration”, Urban Studies, vol. 30 no. 2, pp. 339–350.

Rae, D 2005, City: Urbanism And Its End, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Ritchie, J 2000, “Turning 16 days into 16 years through Olympic legacies.” Event Management, vol. 6 no. 3, pp. 155-165.

Roche, M 2000, Mega-events and Modernity: Olympics and Expos in the Growth of Global Culture, Routledge, New York.

Searle, G 2002, “Uncertain legacy: Sydney’s Olympic stadiums”, European planning studies, vol. 10 no. 7, pp. 845–860.

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