London was so worried it would grind to a halt because of overcrowding during the Olympics that it started ringing the alarm bells early and loudly, to the point that now barely anybody's going to the city, and an immediate economic "Olympic bounce" isn't happening. Thanks to dire warnings about traffic jams and overcrowded Tube service, people stayed away from the city in droves. Part of the alarm came from Mayor Boris Johnson, who recorded what he's now calling "Hiroshima tube announcements" warning Londoners of the impossible-to-navigate Tube crowding. They've stopped running those, but not before they could make their way into John F. Burns' New York Times piece on the empty city, making it sound especially deserted: "Recordings of Mr. Johnson urging people not to “get caught” in the Olympic crush — and to work from home if they can — have played across eerily quiet concourses at mainline stations like King’s Cross, Victoria and Waterloo." The Olympic VIP lanes, which caused such consternation among cabbies, have turned out to be unnecessary. Now, Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron are reversing their PR campaign, and pleading with Britons and visitors to come back to the city, even if they're not attending the Games: "Come back into the capital, come and shop, come and eat in London's restaurants and let's make sure that all of London's economy benefits from this." The Clash's "London Calling" has been the anthem of these Olympics, but it sounds like there's room for another in The Specials' "Ghost Town."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.