The Water Jets of the Centennial Olympic Park
The Centennial Olympic Park is a public park in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The park is comprised of 21 acres, and is owned by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The park was actually built for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympic Games. It was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. The park continues to host millions of visitors each year, with many different kinds of events, including the popular Independence Day concert and fireworks.
Before the creation of the park, the location was actually a series of run down abandon lots and buildings. Bully Payne, the CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics, decided this area was a central location for spectators that would become a legacy for the city. The park, while hosting the Olympics, features sponsor exhibits, entertainment and medal presentations, as well as all types of vendors and other activities.
The Olympic celebrations were spoiled by the bombing that occurred on July 27th. The bombing killed two people, and injured over 100 people. Overall security at the park and all sports venues was increased to include metal detectors at all entrances as well as bag searches. The site of the bombing, near Centennial Tree was closed after the Olympics for renovations and was not reopened until the spring of 1998. The site would also be damaged by a tornado that passed through on March 14, 2008. The damage was minor luckily, tearing down two of the 65 foot light towers. This was the first tornado to hit the downtown area since weather record keeping began in the 1880’s.
The Centennial Park is centrally located in Atlanta, close to many of the major landmarks. You can easily get to the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome, and the Philips Arena locates to the west of the park, as well as the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca Cola to the North of the park.
The park itself features some great sites. One of the most exciting features is the Fountain of Rings. The rings are the Olympic Rings, and feature computer controlled light and water jets, that synchronize to music that comes from the speakers in the tower lights. The fountain was designed to be used as a splash pad for children to play in, as well as for concert goers or joggers to cool off at during the hot Atlanta summers. The fountain area consist of 251 jets that shoot anywhere from 12 to 35 feet into the air. These are not only fun to play in but create beautiful water sculpture to admire. This fun and playful space has been mimicked by other urban settings for commercial use as well. The fountain is also surrounded by the flags of the host countries of the Olympic Games that preceded the 1996 games. The light towers are to be reminiscent of the classical Greek marker columns.
The engraved bricks are another popular feature. These bricks were donations by thousands of people who “bought” them to help pay for the park. Each brick was 35 dollars and could be engraved with up to 15 characters. These were laid as pavers in the park, alternating between the dark brick red color and the lighter tan shade. There are roughly 800,000 bricks used in the construction of the park.
The park has become an important catalyst for development in downtown Atlanta. In 2007, the World of Coca Cola museum opened, and in 2004 the Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta opened. The park, once a run down and dreary spot in downtown Atlanta, now boasts a beautiful and exciting tourist attraction, as well as a wonderful retreat for the city of Atlanta!