The 1980 Winter Games Village in New York Was Turned Into a Prison
If watching the Winter Games is a tradition in your home, this is the week you've been waiting for as the Winter Olympics kick off in Beijing, China, and will continue through Sunday, February 20, 2022.
My mom loves to tell me the story of the 1980 Winter Olympics when they were held in Lake Placid, New York. She planned to watch the game with me tucked safely inside her body. Instead, she watched the Games with me in her arms.
I wasn't supposed to be born until the end of March but impatience has run through my blood since my days in my mother's womb and I just couldn't wait to get out and see the world. I was born smack dab in the middle of the Winter Olympics in February of 1980.
For all the stories I'd been told my entire life about the 1980 Winter Olympics, it was a bit of a surprise that I didn't get around to visiting Lake Placid until my 30th birthday. I vividly remember that birthday and driving through Lake Placid, my eyes jumping all over the place as I tried to soak in every little detail.
Frankly, I was shocked to see so much...emptiness. I thought for sure that all of the unique things built for the Olympics would have been repurposed into new, wonderful things. Instead, most stood forlornly. However, there is one building that was repurposed after the 1980 Winter Olympics and it was the Olympic Village which is the name of the structure that houses athletes.
When Lake Placid was being considered to host the Olympics, the Olympic committee needed congressional approval to move forward and free up funds to build the needed structures. One requirement from Congress was that the facilities must be able to be repurposed after the Games concluded.
Before Olympic Village was built, it was agreed on that after the Games it would be turned into a prison and it was. Less than a year after the 1980 Winter Olympics finished, the Federal Correctional Institution called Ray Brook was opened and its first inmates moved in.
Notable inmates housed at Ray Brook have included Eduardo Arellano-Felix who was a major player in the Tijuana Cartel, David Radler who plead guilty to mail fraud, and Sathajhan Sarachandran who was convicted of supporting terrorism.