Columbus, Ohio

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Columbus, Ohio
City flag City seal
City nicknames: "Arch City," "Discovery City"

Location in the state of Ohio
Counties Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield
 - Total
 - Water

550.5 km² (212.6 mi²)
5.9 km² (2.3 mi²) 1.07%
 - Total (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

Time zone Eastern: UTC–5
Location 39° 59′ 00″ N, 82° 59′ 00″ W
Mayor Michael B. Coleman
City website

Columbus is the capital of the U.S. state of Ohio.

According to the 2000 census, Columbus has a population of 711,470 residents, making it the largest city in Ohio and the 15th largest in the United States. The greater Columbus metropolitan area has a population of 1,612,694, ranking it third in Ohio (behind Cleveland and Cincinnati) and 31st in the United States. With regard to the Combined Statistical Area (which includes Chillicothe and Marion), Columbus ranks 24th in the country with approximately 1.84 million residents.

Located in the geographic center of the state, Columbus serves as the county seat of Franklin County, but parts of the city also extend into Delaware and Fairfield counties. The city was founded in 1812 on the east banks of the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, where it assumed the official distinction of state capital in 1816. Residents of Columbus include an eclectic mix of students, politicians, artists, and entrepreneurs who participate in a diverse economy supported by government agencies, educational institutions, and the white-collar service sector.



Evidence of ancient mound-building societies abounds in the region near the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. Mound Street, located in downtown Columbus, was so named because of its proximity to a large Native American burial mound. Those ancient civilizations had long since faded into history when European explorers began moving into the region south of Lake Erie. Rather than an empty frontier, however, they encountered people of the Miami, Delaware, Wyandot, Shawnee, and Mingo nations. These tribes resisted expansion by the fledgling United States, resulting in years of bitter conflict. A decisive battle at Fallen Timbers resulted in the Treaty of Greenville, which finally opened the way for new settlements. By 1797, a young surveyor from Virginia named Lucas Sullivant had founded a permanent settlement on the west bank of the forks of the Scioto River. A great admirer of Benjamin Franklin, Sullivant chose to name his new frontier village "Franklinton."

After achieving statehood in 1803, political infighting among Ohio's more prominent leaders resulted in the state capital moving from Chillicothe to Zanesville and back again. The state legislature eventually decided that a new capital city, located in the center of the state, was a necessary compromise. Several of Ohio's small towns and villages petitioned the legislature for the honor of becoming the state capital, but ultimately a coalition of land speculators, with Sullivant's support, made the most attractive offer to the Ohio General Assembly. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the capital city was founded in February, 1812, on the "High Banks opposite Franklinton at the Forks of the Scioto known as Wolf's Ridge."

The National Road reached Columbus from Baltimore in 1831, which complemented the city's new link to the Ohio and Erie Canal and facilitated a population boom. A wave of immigrants from Europe resulted in the establishment of two ethnic enclaves on the outskirts of the city. A significant Irish population settled in the north along Naghten Street (presently Nationwide Boulevard), while the Germans took advantage of the cheap land to the south, creating a community that came to be known as Die Alte Sud Ende (The Old South End). Columbus' German population is responsible for constructing numerous breweries, the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Capital University, and instituting the first kindergarten in the United States.

On January 7, 1857, the Ohio Statehouse was finally opened to the public after eighteen years of construction. During the Civil War, Columbus was the home of Camp Chase, a major base for the Union Army that housed 26,000 troops and held up to 9,000 Confederate prisoners of war. Over 2,000 Confederate soldiers remain buried at the site, making it one of the largest Confederate cemeteries in the North. By virtue of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College was founded in 1870 on the former estate of William and Hannah Neil.

By the end of the 19th century, Columbus saw the rise of several major manufacturing businesses. The city became known as the "Buggy Capital of the World," thanks to the presence of some two dozen buggy factories, notably the Columbus Buggy Company, which was founded in 1875 by Harvey Firestone. The Columbus Consolidated Brewing Company also rose to prominence during this time, and it may have achieved even greater success were it not for the influence of the Anti-Saloon League, based in neighboring Westerville. In the steel industry, a forward-thinking man named Samuel P. Bush presided over the Buckeye Steel Castings Company. Columbus also served as a popular location for the organization of labor. In 1886 Samuel Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor in Druid's Hall on S. Fourth Street, and in 1890 the United Mine Workers of America was founded at old City Hall.

Street arches returned to the Short North in late 2002
Street arches returned to the Short North in late 2002

Columbus earned its reputation as "The Arch City" because of the dozens of metal (formerly wooden) arches that spanned High Street at the turn of the 20th Century. The arches illuminated the thoroughfare and eventually became the means by which electric power was provided to the new streetcars. Then, on March 25, 1913, a catastrophic flood devastated the neighborhood of Franklinton, leaving ninety-six people dead and thousands of West Side residents homeless. To prevent future flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers recommended widening the Scioto River through downtown, constructing new bridges, and building a retaining wall along its banks. With the strength of the post-WWI economy, a construction boom occurred in the 1920s, resulting in a new Civic Center, the Ohio Theatre, the American Insurance Union Citadel, and to the north, a massive new Ohio Stadium.

The effects of the Great Depression were somewhat less severe in Columbus, as the city's diversified economy helped it fare marginally better than its Rust Belt neighbors. World War II brought a tremendous number of new jobs to the city, and with it another population surge. This time, the majority of new arrivals were migrants from the extremely depressed rural parts of Appalachia, who would soon account for more than a third of Columbus' rising population. In 1948, the Town and Country Shopping Center opened in suburban Whitehall, and it is now regarded as one of the first modern shopping centers in the United States. Along with the construction of the interstate highway, it signaled the arrival of rapid suburban development in central Ohio. In order to protect the city's tax base from this suburbanization, Columbus adopted a policy of linking sewer and water hookups to annexation to the city. By the early 1990s, Columbus had grown to become Ohio's largest city in both land area and in population.

Efforts to revitalize downtown Columbus have met with mixed results in recent years. Old landmarks such as Union Station and the Neil House Hotel were razed to construct new retail and office spaces, which have struggled to compete against suburban developments at Tuttle Crossing, Easton, and Polaris. Still, with the construction of the Nationwide Arena District, the acquisition of the Blue Jackets, the preservation of historical theatres, and the addition of hundreds of new residential units to the downtown landscape, Columbus looks to ensure a successful future by bolstering the strength of its core.

Skyline of downtown Columbus, Ohio, viewed across the Scioto River.
Skyline of downtown Columbus, Ohio, viewed across the Scioto River.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 550.5 km² (212.6 mi²). 544.6 km² (210.3 mi²) of it is land and 5.9 km² (2.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.07% water. Unlike many other major US cities, Columbus continues to expand its reach by way of extensions and annexations, making it one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation, in terms of both geography and population.

The confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers occurs just west of downtown Columbus. Several smaller tributaries course through the Columbus metro area, including Alum Creek, Big Walnut Creek, and Darby Creek. By and large, Columbus has relatively flat topography thanks to a large glacier that covered most of Ohio during the Wisconsian Ice Age, but numerous ravine areas near the rivers and creeks help give some variety to the landscape. The region is dominated by a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. Deciduous trees are common, including maple, oak, hickory, walnut, poplar, cottonwood, and of course, buckeye.


See also: List of Central Ohio Suburbs

Columbus also has a number of distinctive neighborhoods within the metro area. The Short North, situated just north of downtown, is rich with art galleries, fine dining, pubs, and specialty shops. A number of large, ornate Victorian homes are located nearby, and together they comprise Victorian Village. To the south, German Village is known for its quaint 19th century brick cottages, and it holds the distinction as the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Franklinton, sometimes known as "the Bottoms", is the neighborhood immediately west of downtown. It gets its colorful nickname due to the fact that much of the land lies below the level of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, and a floodwall is required to contain the rivers and protect the area from devastating floods. Just to the west of Franklinton is a group of smaller neighborhoods commonly referred to as "the Hilltop."

The OSU Campus area is populated by a high concentration of students during the school year (perhaps as many as 50,000) and features many old homes which have been converted to apartments for student use. The stretch of High Street that runs through the campus area caters to the student body with its abundance of dive bars, sandwich shops, and bookstores. Located between OSU and Worthington is Clintonville, where a mix of middle class Levittown-type homes can be found alongside beautiful old stone and brick-faced houses nestled among rolling hills. Further west of downtown, San Margherita is a village formed by Italian immigrants who arrived at the turn of the 20th century. And to the east, Linden remains distinct as one of the city's oldest neighborhoods.

Other neighborhoods and crossroads around the area include: Berwick, Hungarian Village, Merion Village, Steelton, Milo Grogan, Flytown, Italian Village, Weinland Park, Driving Park, Olde Town East, Marble Cliff, Valleyview, New Rome, Briggsdale, Urbancrest, Eastmoor, Minerva Park, Huber Ridge, Mifflinville, Linworth, Riverlea, Olentangy, Amlin, Lincoln Village, and Alton.

People and Culture


See also: List of Famous People from Columbus, Ohio

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 711,470 people, 301,534 households, and 165,240 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,306.4/km² (3,383.6/mi²). There are 327,175 housing units at an average density of 600.8/km² (1,556.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 67.93% White, 24.47% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 3.44% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. 2.46% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 301,534 households out of which 28.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.1% are married couples living together, 14.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.2% are non-families. 34.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 3.01.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 14.0% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 17.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,897, and the median income for a family is $47,391. Males have a median income of $35,138 versus $28,705 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,450. 14.8% of the population and 10.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 18.7% of those under the age of 18 and 10.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Landmarks and Museums

The Ohio Statehouse
The Ohio Statehouse

Columbus is home to several world class buildings, including the Greek-Revival State Capitol, and the Peter Eisenman-designed Wexner Center and Columbus Convention Center.

The Ohio Statehouse began construction in 1839 on a 10 acre (40,000 m²) plot of land donated by four prominent Columbus landowners to form Capitol Square, not part of the original layout of the city. The Statehouse stands upon foundations 18 feet (5 m) deep, which were laid by prison labor gangs, rumored to have been swelled by masons jailed for minor infractions [1]. The Statehouse features a central recessed porch with a colonnade of a forthright and primitive Greek Doric mode, built of Columbus limestone that was quarried on the west banks of the Scioto River. A broad and low central pediment supports the windowed astylar drum, under an invisibly low saucer dome, that lights the interior rotunda. Unlike many US state capitol buildings, the Ohio State Capitol owes little to the architecture of the national Capitol. During the long course of the Statehouse's 22 years of construction, seven architects were employed. Relations between the legislature and the architects were not always cordial: Nathan B. Kelly, who introduced heating and an ingenious system of natural forced ventilation, was dismissed because the commissioners found his designs were too lavish for the original intentions of the committee. The Statehouse was opened to the legislature and the public in 1857, and finally complete in 1861.

Columbus Museum of Art
Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art opened in 1931, with a collection focusing on European and American art up to early modernism. Columbus also boasts the Franklin Park Conservatory, which was also home to AmeriFlora '92, and a to-scale replica of the Santa Maria on the Scioto Riverfront that was installed to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus' namesake. Columbus is the home of COSI-Columbus, a notable science museum, as well as the museum of the Ohio Historical Society.

To some extent, the Ohio State University is a museum unto itself with its rich history and roots in the Columbus psyche, but it does host a number of museums and museum-like exhibits. Notable among these are the Wexner Center for the Arts, a contemporary art gallery and research facility located on the OSU campus, the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame located in the Schottenstein Center (home of the OSU basketball and hockey teams).

The Ohio Historical Society is headquartered in Columbus, with its flagship museum, the 250,000 square foot (23,000 m²) Ohio Historical Center, located just four miles (6 km) north of downtown.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is arguably the nation's top-ranked library system (Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings).

The Columbus Zoo is world-renowned, and its director emeritus, Jack Hanna, frequently appears on national television, including The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Founded in 1975, The Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts is a campus of nonprofit organizations and a center for research, publications and seminars on nonprofit leadership and governance. Located at the eastern edge of downtown Columbus, Ohio, The Jefferson Center has restored eleven turn-of-the-century homes as locations for nonprofits in human services, education and the arts and recently obtained a twelfth property to renovate.

Fairs and Festivals

Annual festivities in Columbus include the Ohio State Fair—one of the largest state fairs in the country; the Columbus Arts Festival and the Jazz and Ribs Festival, both of which occur on the downtown waterfront. ComFest (short for "community festival") is an immense three-day gathering in Goodale Park (just north of downtown Columbus) with art vendors and live music on multiple stages, hundreds of local social and political organizations, body painting, and enough beer to quench anyone's thirst. Coinciding with the weekend of ComFest is the large Gay Pride Parade, reflective of the sizeable gay population in Columbus. Around the Fourth of July, Columbus hosts Red, White, and Boom, the largest fireworks display in the midwest on the riverfront downtown to crowds of over 500,000 people, as well as the popular "Doo Dah Parade", a nonsensical satire of ordinary parades. The Origins International Game Expo is held around the first week of July. The Short North is host to the monthly "Gallery Hop", which attracts hundreds to the neighborhood's art galleries (which all open their doors to the public until late at night) and street musicians. Each September, German Village throws an annual Oktoberfest celebration that features authentic German food, beer, music, and crafts. The Hilltop Bean Dinner is an annual event held on Columbus' West Side that celebrates the city's Civil War heritage near the historic Camp Chase Cemetery.


By far, the sports team that draws the most attention in Columbus is the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Games are played from late August through late November (and usually in early January), with home games at Ohio Stadium in front of over 100,000 rabid Buckeye fans. Tailgating at OSU home games has become an event in and of itself, with as many as 30,000 more people partying during the game in the parking lots and at controlled events on Lane Avenue such as Hineygate and the Varsity Club. The OSU-Michigan football game is the final game of the regular season and is played in November each year (alternating between Columbus and Ann Arbor, Michigan). It is easily the biggest annual event in the city, with an estimated 80% to 90% share of television viewers in the Columbus market. ESPN even recognized it as the greatest rivalries in all of sports.

Columbus is also home to the nations first soccer only stadium which is currently home to the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Club Sport League Stadium Logo
Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Hockey National Hockey League Nationwide Arena Columbus Blue Jackets Logo
Columbus Crew Soccer Major League Soccer Columbus Crew Stadium Columbus Crew Logo
Columbus Destroyers Football Arena Football League Nationwide Arena Columbus Destroyers Logo
Columbus Clippers Baseball Minor League Baseball Cooper Stadium Columbus Clippers Logo

For a city of its size, Columbus notably does not have a major league baseball, basketball, or football team. This can be explained, in part, by the city's proximity to both Cincinnati (100 miles) and Cleveland (125 miles), which have five major league teams between them.

Columbus hosts the annual Arnold Classic weightlifting and fitness exposition in late February, as well as the annual Quarterhorse Congress. Both of these conventions are very large tourist draws to the city.

Performing Arts

There are several major concert venues in Columbus, including arenas such as Nationwide Arena, the Schottenstein Center, and Ohio Stadium. Columbus also has a number of medium-sized venues downtown, including the historic Palace Theatre, the Ohio Theatre, the Southern Theatre, Franklin County Veterans Memorial Hall, and the PromoWest Pavilion. The Newport Music Hall, located in the OSU campus neighborhood, is a smaller venue, but highly respected by the alternative music scene. Musicians such as U2, Smashing Pumpkins, and Sarah McLachlan cut their teeth at the Newport before achieving wider fame. Performing artists hailing from Columbus include Foley (bass player with Miles Davis), The Sun, Dwight Yokam, and RJD2.

Much of the growth in entertainment capacity in Columbus has been recent. The expansion of Ohio Stadium to over 100,000 in capacity, and the construction of the Crew Stadium (the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States), Nationwide Arena, the Schottenstein Center, the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the PromoWest Pavilion are all projects completed since 1990.

Columbus is the home of many renowned performing arts institutions, including Opera Columbus, BalletMet, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCo), and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.


  • Eastland, is the primary retail destination for Southeastern Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway counties. Eastland, built in 1969, was Columbus' first enclosed shopping mall. Eastland is anchored by Kaufmann's, Macy's JCPenney and Sears. Eastland is located at the corner of Hamilton and Refugee Rds. and is owned by the Glimcher Realty Trust.
  • Easton Town Center, located on the city's northeast side off Interstate 270 on Morse Crossing, has everything you could possibly need (and otherwise). Department stores here include Central Ohio's only Nordstrom, an upscale Seattle-based retailer known for its impressive shoe department and extensive selection of classy men's, women's and children's clothing. There's also Macy's, arguably the store's most elegant Columbus location, which offers a full line of clothing and accessories for the whole family.
  • The Mall at Tuttle Crossing, located on the city's northwest side off Interstate 270 on Tuttle Crossing. The mall's anchors include Macy's, Kaufmann's and JCPenny, which carry complete lines of men's, women's and children's clothing. Tuttle also boasts plenty of specialty stores and a food court. Start with Express Men, popular Columbus-based chains, for trendy looks. For women, Express offers stylish pieces such as cropped chinos, polka-dot chiffon skirts and fitted tank tops in colors like pink flora, orange soda and spring green. And for men, Express men has essentials such as hip dress shirts, suits and ties, as well as casual staples like jeans, chinos and seeaters. Tuttle has an Abercrombie & Fitch as well as its two youngster-oriented spinoffs, abercrombie and Hollister Co. Featuring both men's and women's clothing that tend to attract the college-age crowd. There's also the Gap (and its two sister stores, gap kids and body gap) for classic men's and women's clothes.


  • The Brewery District Business Association. An authentic historic distoric with 19th-century homes and magnificent brick buildings. The bustling night life, fine restaurants and funky eateries draw residents and visitors alike.
  • The Basement at Fat Eddie's. The Arena District's top sports party bar.
  • Blues Station, Columbus'greatest blues destination, featuring live music, national and local acts.
  • Char-Bar, Located across from the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Pool, darts, and juke box.
  • Fado Irish Pub
  • Frog Bear & Wild Boar Bar, live music, great menu, pool tables and fun.
  • The Lodge Bar, located in the Arena District. Live music, DJs. Best party in town.
  • The Lounge at BrownStone, a relaxed setting to enjoy the live jazzy, soulful and R & B sounds of some of the area's finest musicians. The lounge features live performances throughout the week. Enjoy light fare or grab a cigar from one of our humidors, and sit back and let the smooth music take you away.
  • Newport Music Hall, the country's top rock & roll club.
  • Round Bar
  • Scioto Downs, exciting live harness racing May-Sept.; also simulcasting year-round. Fine dining in the Clubhouse, casual fare on the patio.


Columbus's sole remaining daily newspaper is the Columbus Dispatch, its main competitor, the Columbus Citizen-Journal having ceased publication on December 31, 1985. There are also a number of weekly newspapers, including neighborhood/suburb specific papers such as Suburban News Publications which serves 23 suburbs and Columbus, ThisWeek, and "alternative" arts/culture/politics-oriented papers such as The Other Paper and Columbus Alive. Columbus Monthly is the city magazine.

Among Columbus's notable radio stations are (WTVN) (610) and WBNS (1460), both among the oldest AM stations in the country; WOSU (820 AM and 89.7 FM), operated by The Ohio State University; WCBE (90.5 FM), an NPR affiliate run by the Columbus Board of Education; WLVQ (96.3 FM), a long-running classic-rock station; and WWCD (101.1 FM), Columbus's locally-owned alternative rock station.

Columbus's television stations include WCMH 4 (NBC), WSYX 6 (ABC), WBNS 10 (CBS), WTTE 28 (Fox), WOSU 34 (PBS), WSFJ 51 (a Christian-oriented independent station), and WWHO 53 (UPN).

LeVeque Tower, the oldest skyscraper in Columbus.
LeVeque Tower, the oldest skyscraper in Columbus.


As Columbus is the capital of the state of Ohio, there is a large government presence in the city. Including city, state, and jobs at the public Ohio State University, government jobs provide the largest single source of employment within Columbus. However, it is by no means a majority.

Columbus is the headquarters for a number of businesses as well. Nationwide Insurance makes its home downtown in a large, multi-building complex that dominates the northern end of the downtown area. Limited Brands (formerly known as The Limited, Inc.) is located on the east side of the city and is the parent company of the retail stores The Limited, Express, Victoria's Secret, and Bath & Body Works, among others. Worthington Steel is primarily located on the north side of the metro area in the Worthington suburb. Two fast food chains have their home base in the Columbus metro area as well, Wendy's and White Castle, with Wendy's still operating their first store downtown as both a museum and a working restaurant. Bob Evans Restaurants is also based in Columbus. Cardinal Health has its headquarters in the northwest suburb of Dublin. Huntington Bancshares also has its headquarters in the downtown area. Borden Chemical (formerly part of the Borden, Inc. corporation prior to its acquisition and subsequent divestiture) is located downtown as well. The Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, makers of Ensure nutritional drink and Similac infant formula, is also headquartered in Columbus, with over 7,000 employees.

In addition to these companies, many companies have a major presence in the Columbus area. Honda has its North American auto plant in Marysville to the northwest of Columbus and produces Honda Accords, Civics, motorcycles and some of Acura's models for the North American market. Bank One, which used to be headquartered in Columbus prior to the merger with First Chicago-NBD, still has a major presence in Columbus. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which announced a merger with Bank One in 2004, has a large mortgage servicing unit in the city. CompuServe still has its roots in Columbus, although it has been owned by AOL since 1998. Budweiser has a major brewery located on the north side of the city. McGraw-Hill Inc. has large offices within Columbus as well. In addition, Sterling Commerce a B2B software company has its headquarters in the Northwest suburb of Dublin. UPS has a large distribution center on the west side of the city. Columbus is also home to the Chemical Abstracts Service, making it one of the world's leading centers for scientific information distribution.

Columbus also hosts many conventions in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a pastel-colored building on the north edge of downtown that resembles jumbled blocks, or a train yard from overhead. The convention center was designed by famed architect Peter Eisenman, who also designed the renowned Wexner Center, also located in Columbus at the campus of The Ohio State University. Completed in 1993, the convention center spanned nearly 600,000 square feet (56,000 m²) at the time, and has recently been expanded.


City Hall.
City Hall.


See also: List of Mayors of Columbus, Ohio

The government is administered by a mayor and a unicameral council elected every two years, the mayor appointing the director of safety and the director of public service. The people elect the treasurer, auditor, and solicitor. A charter commission, elected in 1913, submitted, in May, 1914, a new charter offering a modified Federal form, with a number of progressive features, such as nonpartisan ballot, preferential voting, recall of elected officials, the referendum, and a small council elected at large. The charter was adopted, effective January 1, 1916.

Sister Cities

Columbus joined with Genoa, Italy to establish its first Sister City in 1955. To commemorate the relationship, Columbus received as a gift from the people of Genoa a large statue of Christopher Columbus. The statue overlooks Broad Street in front of Columbus City Hall.

Today, Columbus has seven Sister Cities, including Genoa; Dresden, Germany; Hefei, China; Herzliya, Israel; Odense, Denmark; Seville, Spain; and Tainan City, Taiwan.


Columbus is the home of The Ohio State University, which has the distinction of being the largest single campus in the United States, with a total enrollment of 50,995 (according to the OSU Office of University Relations). Other institutions located in Columbus and its metro area include Columbus State Community College, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Capital University in Bexley, Otterbein College in Westerville, and DeVry University.

Columbus is noted for a couple of important "firsts" in American public education. The first kindergarten was established here by Louisa Frankenberg, a former student of Friedrich Fröbel who immigrated to the city in 1838. In addition, Indianola Junior High School became the nation's first middle school in 1909, helping to bridge the difficult transition from elementary to high school at a time when only forty-eight percent of students continued their education after the 9th grade.

Columbus Public Schools dominates the K-12 primary school landscape, and each of the suburbs operates a fairly large district as well, sometimes across overlapping municipal boundaries. CPS offers many alternative schools, such as Columbus Alternative High School, Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, and Ecole Kenwood. Notable private schools within Columbus include the Columbus Academy, Columbus School for Girls, and Saint Charles Preparatory School, all three of which had a 100% passing rate on the Ohio Graduation Test.


Columbus is bisected by two major Interstate highways, Interstate 70 running east-west, and Interstate 71 running north to roughly southwest. The two Interstates combine downtown for about 1.5 miles in an area locally known as "The Split", which is a major traffic congestion point within Columbus, especially during rush hour. U.S. Highway 40, aka National Road, runs east-west through Columbus, comprising Main Street to the east of downtown and Broad Street to the west. It is also widely recognized as the nation's first highway. U.S. Highway 23 runs roughly north-south, while U.S. Highway 33 runs northwest-to-southeast. The Interstate 270 Outerbelt encircles the vast majority of Columbus and its suburbs, while the newly redesigned Innerbelt consists of the Interstate 670 spur on the north side (which continues to the east past the airport and to the west where it merges with I-70), State Route 315 on the west side, the I-70/71 split on the south side, and I-71 on the east. Due to its central location within Ohio and abundance of outbound roadways, nearly all of the state's destinations are within a 2-hour drive of Columbus.

The I-270 Outerbelt was the subject of national media attention in late 2003 and early 2004 when a number of sniper shootings were reported along the southern portion of the interstate and other neighboring highways, resulting in the death of one person. Charles McCoy is accused of the shootings and will stand trial in 2005.

High Street downtown at night, looking north. I-670 crosses under this part of town.
High Street downtown at night, looking north. I-670 crosses under this part of town.

The city's street plan—originating in the oldest parts of the city, that is downtown and the immediate vicinity—is a roughly gridiron model bisected by High Street (running north-south) and Broad Street (running east-west). Much of the city street numbering plan originates at their intersection in mid-downtown (the Ohio Statehouse building sits at the corner of Broad and High, incidentally), so house numbers increase with distance from downtown. This rigid street grid breaks down the further out one goes, particularly in the suburbs (mostly old towns with their own street plans still intact) and the newer subdivisions. Besides High Street and Broad Street, major thoroughfares in Columbus include Main Street, Morse Road, Dublin-Granville Road (aka SR-161), Cleveland Avenue/Westerville Road (aka SR-3), Olentangy River Road, Riverside Drive, Sunbury Road, and Livingston Avenue.

Columbus does not have a metro or other passenger rail system, but does maintain a widespread municipal bus service called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Columbus used to have a major train station downtown called Union Station, however it was razed in the late 1970s. Columbus is now the second largest city in the U.S. (after Phoenix) without passenger rail service. Columbus is served by Port Columbus International Airport, Rickenbacker International Airport, Don Scott Airport (run by OSU), and Bolton Field Airport.


  • Lentz, Ed (2003). Columbus: The Story of a City. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2429-8.

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