Photos

In Lake Placid, the Olympics Are Still Very Much Alive

The Games infrastructure is woven into the fabric of the city.

Just seven cities in the world have hosted the Olympics more than once since the modern games began in 1896. London tops the list, with 2012 being the third time Olympic hopefuls have competed for gold in the Square Mile. Back over the pond in America, the summer games came to the city of Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984, and the winter games to the mountain village of Lake Placid, New York, in 1932 and 1980.

I recently joined my family for vacation in Lake Placid and took pictures of the places “where miracles are made,” as they say. Here are some of the Olympic venues that I visited:

The Olympic Oval (in front of Lake Placid High School), where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals in the 1980 Winter Games. (Elizabeth McNamara)*
Built in 1932, the Olympic Center is home to four indoor and one outdoor skating rinks for hockey, figure skating, and speed skating. Inside, visitors can enjoy the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. (Elizabeth McNamara)*
Part of the Olympic Center Complex, the Olympic Speed Skating Oval is open to the public on a daily basis in both the summer and winter. Pictured here, the oval is used as a track during the summer months. (

Elizabeth McNamara)*

Lake Placid high school with a view of the ski jumps in the distance.

(Elizabeth McNamara)*

The first ski jump was built at this site in North Elba (2 miles from Lake Placid) in 1917 by the Lake Placid Club. By the 1932 Winter Games, steel replaced the wood tower and the jump was raised to 70 meters. Today, the 90- and 120-meter jumps (b. 1977) used in the 1980 games stand in their place. During the summer months, skiers practice by jumping into a 750,000 gallon pool.

(Elizabeth McNamara)

Five miles from downtown Lake Placid at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Sports Complex hosted the bobsled, luge, and skeleton during the winter games. It’s also where the cross-country skiing trails begin.

(Elizabeth McNamara)

Another roadway view of the entrance to the Olympic Sports Complex.

(Elizabeth McNamara)

Located nine miles from Lake Placid in Wilmington, Whiteface Mountain is the downhill skiing slope that challenged Olympic competitors. At an elevation of 4,867 feet, Whiteface Mountain is the fifth highest mountain in New York State. (

Elizabeth McNamara)

*Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified some of the sights in these photos.

This post originally appeared on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Nation blog, an Atlantic partner site.

MORE FROM THE ATLANTIC CITIES

Beijing's Olympic Ruins

What Vancouver Gained By Hosting the Olympics

For Montreal, Memories of the Olympics Boondoggle Remain

About the Author

  • Elizabeth McNamara is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine.