Urban Geography Essay

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Urban Geography - the 2002 Winter Olympics in the Salt Lake City

The contemporaneous society is the result of extensive processes of modification, which occurred on all levels of the everyday life. The urban aspect of a location is no exception. The requirements related to how a city should look have significantly changed throughout the years. While the tendency is to preserve the historic buildings, the modern day architects have designed unimagined sky scrapers or multifunctional buildings and in doing this, they employed the latest technologies available within the market. Salt Lake City is one of those locations in which the old meets the new, and the city's long standing history and traditions could have even constituted a reason as to why Sat Lake City was chosen the home of the Olympic Games in 2002.

Salt Lake City had already been a highly developed location even prior to its hosting of the 2002 Olympics, but this endeavor has generated an increased attention towards several improvements. Before actually presenting these developments linked to the 2002 Olympics, it is important to get a clearer understanding of the concept of urban geography. Once this is achieved, the decision to host the Olympics will be assessed, followed by a presentation of the city and the efforts made towards its improvement, to finally come to an end with a section on concluding remarks.

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TOPIC: Essay on Urban Geography Assignment

The Columbia Encyclopedia (2007) defines the concept of geography as the "the science of place, i.e., the study of the surface of the earth, the location and distribution of its physical and cultural features, the areal patterns or places that they form, and the interrelation of these features as they affect humans." Through a particularization then, urban geography could be understood as the study of the urban characteristics which interact and affect the population in the respective locations. Answers.com (2009) offers a simple, yet comprehensive definition of the concept. In their vision, urban geography represents the "study of the site, evolution, morphology, spatial pattern, and classification of towns." They state that the approach to cities from the geographic standpoint has been focused onto three channels:

the quantitative (descriptive) approach - deals with the spatial organization of the city the behavioral method - deals with the decision-making process within the established environment, and finally the radical tradition - addresses the matter of spatial and resource inequalities and proposes solution to remedying these issues (Answers.com, 2009)

The final definition to be presented was extracted from David Clark's Urban Geography: An Introductory Guide (1982) and explains that the concept represents "that branch of geography that concentrates upon the location and spatial arrangement of tows and cities. It seeks to add a spatial dimension to our understanding of urban places and urban problems."

3. Hosting the Olympic Games of 2002

Salt Lake City manifested a historic desire to host the Olympic Games and the reasons in this direction are multiple, mostly revolving around the benefits generated by such an endeavor. In this order of ideas, the town hosting the Olympics receives large amounts of money to invest in its infrastructure. Then, in the aftermath of the events, improved or even new venues are available for the use of the city. During the Olympics, numerous foreign citizens enter the city, generating demand for the products and services in the region. In the future, some of these visitors will return or will advise their acquaintances to visit the city, stimulating as such the revenues from tourism in the region. Also, hosting the Olympics generally requires the building of new facilities, which creates additional jobs and further supports the economic development. With more customers and more investments, the economic boost is also obvious at a federal level, as the amount of money retrieved from taxes also increases (Economics Help, 2007).

After four unsuccessful endeavors to host the Olympics, Salt Lake City finally won the bid to host the 2001 games in 1995. Their victory was tremendous as they managed to get the necessary votes in the first round, a performance unseen since 1972. The success did not however come without controversy, and the targets of the accusations were Tom Welch and David R. Johnson, members of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee, who were blamed for bribing the members of the International Olympics Committee for voting in favor of SLC. The investigations commenced with a judiciary trial, but the two were acquitted (Lee, 2001).

The 2002 Olympics were different from the events of other years for the reason that they came five months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building. At that time, the nation was in shock and the future of the games was uncertain. It was however decided that the Olympics would proceed as planned, but increased security measures would be taken. The federal budget on safety was increased to $400 million and no aircrafts were allowed over Salt Lake City throughout the period of the games (Findling and Pelle, 2004).

4. Salt Lake City

Founded in 1847 by Brigham Young with the aim of serving as the center of the Mormon community, Salt Lake City is the capital of the State of Utah, and the most prosperous region in terms of economic development and population; the city grew at an astonishing rate throughout the 1980s (the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007). At the 2000 census, the population was estimated at 181,743 individuals; the 2003 census revealed a decrease down to 179,894 individuals (Website of Salt Lake City, 2008).

The geography of the location has been a definite plus in the selection of the city as the host of the 2002 Olympic Games as the Utah snow was even called the "greatest snow on Earth." Another plus has been the 4,390 feet elevation of SLC. The urban features of the city are composed of wide and long streets, making it as such easy to cross and "nearly impossible for someone to get lost." In terms of economy, SLC reveals high levels of diversification, with businesses ranging from mining to the it industry; moguls such as Microsoft and Intel are present in the city, but the government remains the number one employer. Throughout the past years, Salt Lake City has felt the pressure of pollution and is making intensified efforts to addressing the matter. Efforts have also been made to reduce traffic in the city and to ensure the population with fresh water, an issue which becomes more stringent as time evolves (Oman, 2001).

5. Developments in SLC with the Occasion of the 2002 Olympics

The budgets forwarded for the preparation of Salt Lake City revolved around the sum of $1.3 billion. 49% of this sum was allocated for activities directly linked to the staging of the games (13% went to safety and security; 6% went to transportation systems for the spectators; 1% went towards the building, enhancing or operating of sporting venues; 1% went to services of federal agencies and 28% was allocated towards projects of mass transit), whereas a staggering 51% was allocated solely to the construction of highways (DIANE Publishing).

The City of Salt Lake is committed to innovation and development, but these efforts have been intensified in the period just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. A fist of these endeavors has revolved around the reduction of traffic in the key areas of the city. In December 1999 for instance, the city finished and begun running a light-rail-commuter train from downtown to south; the endeavor was embraced with more enthusiasm than initially estimated. "In December of 1999 the city finished and began running a light-rail commuter train which travels from downtown to the urban populations in the south end of the valley. The light-rail is more popular than hoped, however, like most western cities, Salt Lake is still a city of cars. More needs to be done to combat traffic congestion and pollution" (Oman, 2001).

The city council became devoted to remodeling the city for the games that would occupy nearly 200 kilometers. The endeavors were accomplished with great efforts and the citizens were forced to live seven years of endless noises from drilling machines or loud pounding noises. The urban efforts were primarily centered onto three directions:

the building of sports arenas the construction and remodeling of buildings the construction or improvement of roads (VOA News, 2001)

The hospitality industry in Salt Lake City has also adapted to the inflow of people. The measures taken generally depended on each business owner. Mark Gini for instance, owner of a restaurant in the downtown of the city said that he would respond to the overflow by keeping his restaurant open longer hours for the duration of the games and also by providing his foreign customer with menus written in various languages (VOA News, 2001).

Among the most significant urban endeavors which occurred with the occasion of the 2002 Winter Olympics, one could point out the following:

the metamorphosis of the Delta Center into the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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