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Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Ohio. Located near the geographic center of the state, Columbus is the county seat of Franklin County, although parts of the city also extend into Delaware and Fairfield counties. Named for explorer Christopher Columbus, the city was founded in 1812 at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, and assumed the functions of state capital in 1816. The city has a diverse economy based on education, insurance, healthcare, retail, and technology. Acknowledged by Money Magazine as the 8th best large city in the U.S. to inhabit, it is also recognized as an emerging global city. Residents of Columbus are usually referred to as Columbusites.

The population was 711,470 at the 2000 census. Columbus is located within of half of the United States' population. In 2006 Columbus was ranked as the 15th largest city in the United States, with 747,755 residents, and was also the 32nd largest metropolitan area, the fourth largest city in the Midwest, and the fourth most populous Capital in the U.S.. The name Columbus is often used to refer to the Columbus Metropolitan Area, which includes many other municipalities. According to the US Census, the metropolitan area has a population of 1,754,337, while the Combined Statistical Area (which also includes Marion and Chillicothe) has 1,982,252 people.


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. Numerous other earthworks were found throughout the area, including a surviving edifice on McKinley Avenue. 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. An admirer of Benjamin Franklin, Sullivant chose to name his new frontier village "Franklinton. Although the location was desirable in its proximity to navigable rivers, Sullivant was initially foiled when, in 1798, a large flood wiped out the newly formed settlement. He persevered, and the village was rebuilt.

19th century

After Ohio achieved 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 finally 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 on February 14, 1812, on the "High Banks opposite Franklinton at the Forks of the Scioto known as Wolf's Ridge. At the time, this area was a dense forestland, used only as a hunting ground.

The Burough of Columbus [sic] was officially established on February 10, 1816. Nine people were elected to fill the various positions of Mayor, Treasurer, and others. Although the recent War of 1812 had brought prosperity to the area, the subsequent recession and conflicting claims to the land threatened the success of the new town. Early conditions were abysmal with frequent bouts of fevers and an outbreak of cholera in 1833.

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 Das Alte Südende (The Old South End). Columbus' German population is responsible for constructing numerous breweries, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and Capital University.

With a population of 3500, Columbus was officially chartered as a city on March 3, 1834. The legislature carried out a special act on that day, which granted legislative authority to the city council and judicial authority to the mayor. Elections were held in April of that year, with voters choosing one John Brooks as the first mayor.

In 1850 the Columbus and Xenia Railroad became the first railroad to enter the city, followed by the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad in 1851. The two railroads built a joint Union Station on the east side of High Street just north of Naghten (then called North Public Lane). Rail traffic into Columbus increased—by 1875 Columbus was served by eight railroads, and a new, more elaborate station was built.

On January 7, 1857, the Ohio Statehouse finally opened to the public after eighteen years of construction.

During the Civil War, Columbus was a major base for the volunteer 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. North of Columbus, along the Delaware Road, the Regular Army established Camp Thomas, where the 18th U.S. Infantry was organized and trained.

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 C.D. 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 was also 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.

20th century to the present

Columbus earned its nickname "The Arch City" because of the dozens of metal (formerly wooden) arches that spanned High Street at the turn of the twentieth century. The arches illuminated the thoroughfare and eventually became the means by which electric power was provided to the new streetcars. The arches were torn down and replaced with cluster lights in 1914, but were reconstructed in the Short North district in 2002 for their unique historical interest.

On March 25, 1913, a catastrophic flood devastated the neighborhood of Franklinton, leaving over ninety 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. Although the American Professional Football Association was founded in Canton in 1920, its head offices moved to Columbus in 1921 and remained in the city until 1941. In 1922, the association's name was changed to the National Football League. The same year, Coats Steam Car set up shop in Columbus, only to move to Bowling Green and ultimately fail.

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 "extraordinarily depressed rural areas" 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 decades. In the 1970s old landmarks such as Union Station and the Neil House Hotel were razed to construct high-rise offices and retail space such as the Huntington Center. Newer suburban developments at Tuttle Crossing, Easton, and Polaris have inhibited much of the anticipated downtown growth. Still, with the addition of the Arena District, as well as hundreds of downtown residential units, significant revitalization efforts are likely to continue in the downtown area.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 212.6 square miles (550.5 km²), of which, 210.3 square miles (544.6 km²) of it is land and 2.3 square miles (5.9 km²) of it (1.07%) is water. Unlike many other major US cities in the Midwest, 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, and probably the fastest in the Midwest. Unlike Cleveland and Cincinnati, the central cities in Ohio's two largest metropolitan areas, Columbus is ringed by relatively few suburbs; since the 1950s it has made annexation a condition for providing water and sewer service, to which it holds regional rights throughout a large portion of Central Ohio. This policy is credited with preserving Columbus' tax base in the face of the U.S.'s suburbanization and has contributed to its continued economic expansion, much like other cities pursuing similar policies such as San Antonio, Texas, of which is similarly lacking in surrounding incorporated suburbs.

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. Columbus is considered to have relatively flat topography thanks to a large glacier that covered most of Ohio during the Wisconsin Ice Age. However, there are sizable differences in elevation through the area, with the high point of Franklin County being 1132ft (345m) above Sea level near New Albany, and the low point being 670ft (207m) where the Scioto River leaves the county near Lockbourne. Numerous ravine areas near the rivers and creeks also help give some variety to the landscape. Tributaries to Alum Creek and the Olentangy River cut through shale, while tributaries to the Scioto River cut through limestone. Deciduous trees are common, including maple, oak, hickory, walnut, poplar, cottonwood, and of course, buckeye.


Weather averages for Columbus

Month Jan Feb MarApr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov DecYear
Avg high (°F) 36 39 5062 73 8285 84 77 65 51 40 62
Avg high (°C) 2 4 1017 23 2829 29 25 18 11 4 17
Avg low (°F) 20 22 31 40 50 59 64 62 5443 34 25 42
Avg low (°C) -7 -6 -14 10 1518 17 126 1 -4 6
Rainfall (in)2.8 2.3 3.13.4 3.8 3.94.6 3.3 2.72.1 3.0 2.7 37.8
Rainfall (cm)7.1 5.8 7.98.6 9.7 9.911.7 8.4 6.95.4 7.7 6.9 96.0
Snowfall (in) 8.1 6.2 4.50.9 0.0 0.00.0 0.0 0.00.1 2.3 5.5 27.6
Snowfall (cm) 20.6 15.7 11.42.3 0.0 0.00.0 0.0 0.00.3 5.8 14.0 70.1
The region is dominated by a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), characterized by hot, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Columbus was 106°F (41°C), which occurred twice during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s – once on July 21, 1934, and again two years later, on July 14, 1936. The coldest temperature recorded was -22°F (-30°C), occurring January 19, 1994.

Columbus is subject to Severe weather typical to the Midwestern United States. Tornadoes are possible from the spring to the fall, the most recent of which occurred on October 11, 2006 and caused F2 damage. Floods, blizzards, and severe thunderstorms can also occur from time to time.


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, dining, pubs, and specialty shops. A number of large, ornate Victorian homes are located nearby, and together they comprise Victorian Village. Just to the west is Harrison West and across the Olentangy River is Grandview Heights. 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. Most of these neighborhoods have all undergone gentrification on a large scale. 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."

At the north end of downtown is a new development/neighborhood, the Arena District. Centered around the Nationwide Arena, the district has many pubs, restaurants, and residential projects, most notably the new 20-story Condominiums at North Bank Park tower. The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion is also an anchor for the district and the soon-to-come Huntington Ballpark will be the new home of the Columbus Clippers baseball team.

There are also the Heritage Districts, which include the Driving Park, Livingston Park and Old Oaks areas on the near east side of the city, home to a part of the city's large black population.

The University area is populated by a high concentration of students during the school year (approximately 60,000) 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 bars, sandwich shops, music stores, and bookstores. Located between OSU and Worthington is Clintonville, where a mix of middle class homes can be found alongside beautiful old stone and brick-faced houses nestled among rolling hills. Further west of downtown, San Margherita is a community formed by Italian immigrants who arrived at the turn of the 20th century.

Columbus has its own city park system, and there is a metropolitan area parks system as well. Reservoirs and parks on the major streams offer recreational opportunities. The Scioto and Olentangy river corridors are becoming connected as greenways with bike paths, and the Scioto Mile project is enhancing the riverfront in the heart of downtown.


The city's street plan originates downtown and extends into the old-growth neighborhoods, following a grid pattern with the intersection of High Street (running north–south) and Broad Street (running east–west) at its center. North-South streets run twelve degrees west of due North, parallel to High Street; the Avenues (vis. Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Seventh Avenue, etc.) run east–west. The address system begins its numbering at the intersection of Broad and High, with numbers increasing in magnitude with distance from Broad or High. Numbered Avenues begin with First Avenue, about 1¼ mile north of Broad Street, and increase in number as one progresses northward. Numbered Streets begin with Second Street, which is two blocks west of High Street, and Third Street, which is a block east of High Street, then progress eastward from there. Even-numbered addresses are on the north and east sides of streets, putting odd addresses on the south and west sides of streets. A difference of 700 house numbers means a distance of about one mile (along the same street). For example, 351 W 5th Avenue is approximately one-half mile west of High Street on the south side of Fifth Avenue. Buildings along north–south streets are numbered in a similar manner: the building number indicates the approximate distance from Broad Street, the prefixes ‘N’ and ‘S’ indicate whether that distance is to measured to the north or south of Broad Street and the street number itself indicates how far the street is from the center of the city at the intersection of Broad and High.

This street numbering system does not hold true over a large area. The area served by numbered Avenues runs from about Marble Cliff to South Linden to the Airport, and the area served by numbered Streets covers Downtown and nearby neighborhoods to the east and south, with only a few exceptions. There are quite few intersections between numbered Streets and Avenues. Furthermore, named Streets and Avenues can have any orientation. For example, while all of the numbered avenues run east–west, perpendicular to High Street, many named, non-numbered avenues run north–south, parallel to High. The same is true of many named streets: while the numbered streets in the city run north–south, perpendicular to Broad Street, many named, non-numbered streets run east–west, perpendicular to High Street.

The addressing system, however, covers nearly all of Franklin County, with only a few older suburbs retaining self-centered address systems. The address scale of 700 per mile results in addresses approaching, but not usually reaching, 10,000 at the county's borders.

Other major, local roads in Columbus could include Main Street, Morse Road, Dublin-Granville Road (SR-161), Cleveland Avenue/Westerville Road (SR-3), Olentangy River Road, Riverside Drive, Sunbury Road, Fifth Avenue and Livingston Avenue.

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 (2.4 km) 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 the city, 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 area has several airports, most notably Port Columbus International Airport on the east side of the city. Port Columbus provides service to a few foreign and dozens of domestic destinations, including all the major hubs. Port Columbus was a hub for discount carrier Skybus Airlines and is for NetJets, the world's largest fractional ownership carrier. Rickenbacker International Airport, in southern Franklin County, is a major cargo facility and is important to the Ohio Air National Guard. OSU Don Scott Airport and Bolton Field are significant general-aviation facilities in the Columbus area.

Columbus used to have a major train station downtown called Union Station, most notably as a stop along Amtrak's National Limited train service until 1977. The station itself was razed in 1979, and the Greater Columbus Convention Center now stands in its place. The station was also a stop along the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. Columbus is now the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S. (after Phoenix, Arizona) without passenger rail service, however studies are underway towards reintroducing passenger rail service to Columbus via the Ohio Hub project.

Columbus maintains a widespread municipal bus service called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).


City of Columbus census results
Year Population % Change Rank
1840 6,048 N/A 70
1850 17,882 195.7 37
1860 18,554 3.8 49
1870 31,274 68.6 42
1880 51,647 65.1 33
1890 88,150 70.7 30
1900 125,560 42.4 28
1910 181,511 44.6 29
1920 237,031 30.6 28
1930 290,564 22.6 28
1940 306,087 5.3 26
1950 375,901 22.8 28
1960 471,316 25.4 28
1970 539,677 14.5 21
1980 564,871 4.7 19
1990 632,910 12.0 16
2000 711,470 12.4 15
2006 733,203 3.2 15
2007 est 747,755 1.4 15

As of the census of 2000, there were 711,470 people, 301,534 households, and 165,240 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,383.6 people per square mile (1,306.4/km²). There were 327,175 housing units at an average density of 1,556.0/sq mi (600.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 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 were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 5 largest ancestries include German (19.4%), Irish (11.7%), English (7.9%), American (7.2%), Italian (5.0%).

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

The age distribution is 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,897, and the median income for a family was $47,391. Males had a median income of $35,138 versus $28,705 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,450. About 10.8% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 10.9% of those age 65 or over.

The Columbus metropolitan area has experienced several waves of immigration in the 20th century, including groups from Vietnam, Russia, Somalia, and ongoing immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Many other countries of origin are represented as well, with much of this related to the international draw of The Ohio State University. As is the case in much of America, there is less assimilation going on than compartmentalization, with large monoethnic neighborhoods developing. This influx is putting pressure on all of the social services institutions, notably the public schools and the public health system.

Due to its demographics, which include a mix of races and a wide range of incomes, as well as urban, suburban, and nearby rural areas, Columbus has been considered to be a "typical" American city, and has been used as a test market for new products by retail and restaurant chains. However, newer studies suggest that Columbus may no longer accurately mirror the U.S. population as a whole.


Columbus has a generally strong and diverse economy, ranking in the top 10 overall in the United States, and the best in Ohio, according to Policom Corp. As Columbus is the state capital, there is a large government presence in the city. Including city, county, state, and federal employers, government jobs provide the largest single source of employment within Columbus. One of the larger processing centers of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is located in Columbus.

With approximately 100,000 college students in the Metropolitan Area, there are a large number of people employed within higher education institutions. Large organizations include The Ohio State University, Franklin University and Columbus State Community College, as well as numerous other smaller colleges and schools.

The Fortune 500 company Cardinal Health has its headquarters in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, and is currently under an expansion which will double their employment.

Columbus is home to five insurance companies. Nationwide Insurance makes its home downtown in a large, multi-building complex that dominates the northern end of the downtown area. The other insurance companies in the city are Motorists Insurance, Grange Insurance, Safe Auto Insurance, and State Auto Insurance.

Huntington Bancshares Inc. has its headquarters in the downtown area. Bank One was headquartered in Columbus until 1998, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which acquired Bank One in 2004, continues to maintain a major presence in Columbus, with a large mortgage servicing unit in the city. National City Bank, KeyBank, Heartland Bank, Charter One Bank, U.S. Bank, Citigroup, Fifth Third Bank all maintain a presence in Columbus. Serving the business-only niche, Commerce National Bank is headquartered in Columbus.

Chemical Abstracts Service is located just north of the OSU campus. The Battelle Memorial Institute, a major research and development facility, is located just to the south of said campus. These two institutions make the city one of the world's leading centers for scientific information distribution. The Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories and Ashland Inc. both have large facilities in the Columbus area. McGraw-Hill has large offices within Columbus as well.

Many technology companies either call Columbus home or have significant operations in the area. American Electric Power (AEP) has its headquarters in downtown Columbus. The Internet Service Provider CompuServe still has its roots in Columbus, although it has been owned by AOL since 1998. Sterling Commerce, a B2B software company, has its headquarters on the Northwest side. Mettler Toledo, a manufacturer of precision scales and scientific equipment is based in the area known as Polaris. Microsoft also has an office at Polaris. There is a strong push toward gaining more research and technology companies in the city. The multi-jurisdictional 315 Research + Technology Corridor was set up in 2006 to promote the area nationally and internationally, in hopes of achieving something similar to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

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 Victoria's Secret, and Bath & Body Works, among others. Limited Too is also based in the area. Express retail stores are also headquartered in Columbus and were formerly part of Limited Brands. Retail Ventures is headquartered in the capital city. They operate stores under the DSW, Filene's Basement, American Signature, Rooms today and Value City banners. Abercrombie & Fitch is also based in Columbus, Ohio.

Three fast food chains are based in Columbus: Charley's Grilled Subs, Steak Escape, and White Castle. Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Bob Evans Restaurants, Max & Erma's, Damon's Grill, and Donatos Pizza are also based in the city. Wendy's operated its first store downtown as both a museum and a restaurant until March 2007 when the establishment was closed due to low revenue. The company is presently headquartered outside the city in nearby Dublin. Asian frozen food manufacturer and ex-destination tiki restaurant Kahiki Foods is located on the East side of Columbus.

Worthington Industries, a large steel-processing company, is primarily located on the north side near Worthington. Historically, Port Columbus International Airport was once home to a North American Aviation factory (later North American/Rockwell). Aircraft built in Columbus include the North American F-86 Sabre, A-5 Vigilante, OV-10 Bronco, T-2 Buckeye (named after the state tree, and Ohio State University's mascot), and components for the B-1 bomber, as well as numerous missiles and guidance systems. Budweiser has a major brewery located on the north side, while Hexion Specialty Chemicals (formerly part of Borden, Inc.) is located downtown. The Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, makers of Ensure nutritional drink and Similac infant formula, is headquartered in Columbus, with over 7,000 employees. UPS has a large distribution center on the west side of the city.

Columbus was also home to Skybus Airlines, a discount carrier which began flying in May 2007 and ceased operations on April 5, 2008.

Law and government

The government is administered by a mayor and a seven-member unicameral council elected in two classes every two years to four-year terms. The mayor appoints the director of safety and the director of public service. The people elect the treasurer, auditor, municipal court clerk, municipal court judges and city attorney. 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. The current mayor of Columbus is Michael B. Coleman.


The City of Columbus is policed by a Municipal Police Department, the Columbus Division of Police. According to Morgan Quitno, in 2006 Columbus was the 9th most dangerous out of 32 cities with a population of 500,000 or more, though it has never been ranked among top 25 overall. This ranking is based on crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as weighted by Morgan Quitno's methodology. According to FBI statistics for 2005, Columbus had 102 reported murders and 6,111 total reported violent crimes of all types. A crime incident map, updated daily, is available for Columbus, Ohio including crime location, type and detailed information.


Colleges and universities

Columbus is the home of two public colleges: The Ohio State University, the largest college campus in the United States and Columbus State Community College. Private institutions located in Columbus include the Columbus College of Art and Design, DeVry University, Ohio Institute of Health Careers, and Franklin University, as well as the religious schools Mount Carmel College of Nursing, Ohio Dominican University, Pontifical College Josephinum, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Three major suburban schools also have an influence on Columbus' educational landscape: Bexley's Capital University, Westerville's Otterbein College, and Delaware's Ohio Wesleyan University.

Primary and secondary schools

Columbus City Schools (CCS), formerly Columbus Public Schools, is the largest district in Ohio, with 62,000 pupils. CCS operates 142 elementary, middle, and high schools, including a number of alternative schools. The suburbs operate their own districts as well, typically serving students in one or more townships, with districts sometimes crossing municipal boundaries. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus also operates numerous parochial elementary and high schools. The second largest school district in the area is South-Western City Schools, which encompasses southwestern Franklin County. There are also three top rated private schools in the area, The Wellington School, The Columbus Academy and The Columbus School for Girls.

Some sources claim that the first kindergarten in the United States was established here by Louisa Frankenberg, a former student of Friedrich Froebel. Frankenberg 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 48% of students continued their education after the 9th grade.

In the mid 2000's superintendent of Columbus City Schools made a goal for the class of 2012, to graduate with a 99.9percent rating. This makes the current class 9th graders.


The Columbus Metropolitan Library has been serving residents of Central Ohio since 1873. With a collection of 3 million items, the system has 22 locations throughout the area. This library is one of the most-used library systems in the country and is consistently among the top-ranked large city libraries according to "Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings".



Columbus is home to several notable buildings, including the Greek-Revival State Capitol, the art-deco Ohio Judicial Center and the Peter Eisenman-designed Wexner Center and Greater Columbus Convention Center. Other buildings of interest include the Rhodes State Office Tower, LeVeque Tower, and One Nationwide Plaza.

The Ohio Statehouse construction began in 1839 on a 10 acre (40,000-m²) plot of land donated by four prominent Columbus landowners. This plot formed Capitol Square, which was not part of the original layout of the city. Built of Columbus limestone from the Marble Cliff Quarry Co., the Statehouse stands on foundations 18 feet (5 m) deep, laid by prison labor gangs rumored to have been comprised largely of masons jailed for minor infractions. The Statehouse features a central recessed porch with a colonnade of a forthright and primitive Greek Doric mode. A broad and low central pediment supports the windowed astylar drum under an invisibly low saucer dome that lights the interior rotunda. Unlike many U.S. 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 too lavish for the original intentions of the committee. The Statehouse was opened to the legislature and the public in 1857 and finally completed in 1861. It is located at the intersection of Broad and High Streets in downtown Columbus.

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, including the childhood residence of James Thurber. These locations are used for nonprofits in human services, education and the arts. The center recently obtained a twelfth property to renovate.

A to-scale replica of the Santa Maria is found on the Scioto Riverfront. It was installed in 1992 to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus' namesake.

Within the Driving Park heritage district lies the original home of Eddie Rickenbacker the famous WWI fighter pilot ace. Current reconstruction of the home is underway.

Established in 1848, Green Lawn Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the Midwestern United States.


The Columbus Museum of Art opened in 1931, and has a collection focusing on European and American art up to early modernism. The Wexner Center for the Arts, a contemporary art gallery and research facility, is located on the Campus of the Ohio State University. Also on campus is the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame, located in the Jerome Schottenstein Center (home of the OSU basketball and men's ice hockey teams), as well as the Jack Nicklaus museum next door.

Located in Franklin Park, the Franklin Park Conservatory is a botanical garden which opened in 1895. Renovated in 1992, it was home to the horticultural festival AmeriFlora '92. In 2004, it was loaned a large collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculpture, which was subsequently purchased and is now a permanent collection.

COSI, (Center of Science and Industry), is a large science museum. The present building, the former Central High School, was completed in November 1999, opposite downtown on the west bank of the Scioto River.

The Ohio Historical Society is headquartered in Columbus, with its flagship museum, the 250,000-square-foot (23,000-m²) Ohio Historical Center, located 4 miles (6 km) north of downtown. Along with the museum is Ohio Village, a replica of a village around the time of the American Civil War.

The Kelton House is a museum devoted to Victorian life. Built in 1852, it was home to three generations of the Kelton Family and was a documented station on the Underground Railroad.

Parks and outdoor attractions

The Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District includes Inniswood Metro Gardens, a collection of public gardens; Highbanks Metro Park; Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park; as well as many others. The Big Darby Creek in the southwestern part of town is considered to be especially significant for its beauty and ecological diversity. Clintonville is home to Whetstone Park, which includes the Park of Roses, a beautiful 13 acre rose garden. The Chadwick Arboretum is located on the OSU campus, and features a large and varied collection of plants. Downtown, the famous painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is represented in topiary at Columbus's Old Deaf School Park. Also near downtown, a new Metro Park on the Whittier Peninsula is scheduled to open in 2008. The park will include a large Audubon nature center focused on the excellent bird watching that the area is known for.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is world renowned for its collections that include lowland gorillas, manatees, Siberian tigers, cheetahs, and kangaroos. Its director emeritus, Jack Hanna, frequently appears on national television, including on The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. Also in the zoo complex is the Zoombezi Bay water park and amusement park.

Named a "Great Garden City" by Organic Gardening magazine (June/July 2006 issue), there are over 60 community gardens, as well as many farmers markets featuring local foods.

Performing arts

Columbus is and was the home of many renowned performing arts institutions, including Opera Columbus, BalletMet, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO), Shadowbox Cabaret and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Throughout the summer, the Actors' Theatre offers free performances of Shakespearean plays in an open-air amphitheatre located in German Village. The Columbus Gay Men's Chorus is also a vibrant part of the arts community, and showcases the city's diversity.

There are numerous large concert venues in Columbus, including arenas such as Nationwide Arena, Value City Arena, and Germain Amphitheatre. The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion (the LC for short) (formerly the PromoWest Pavilion), Veterans Memorial auditorium, and the Newport Music Hall, round out the city's music performance spaces. Recently, funding has been allocated to renovate the Lincoln Theatre, which was formerly a center for Black culture in Columbus. Not far from the Lincoln Theatre is the King Arts Complex, which hosts various cultural events. The city also has a number of theatres downtown, including the historic Palace Theatre, the Ohio Theatre, the Southern Theatre, and the Riffe Center which houses The Capitol Theatre as well as two studio theatres. Much of the growth in entertainment capacity in Columbus has been recent. The construction of the Crew Stadium, Nationwide Arena, Value City Arena, the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion are all projects completed since 1990.

Columbus's Somali diaspora population has also become home to a growing film industry, earning the city the nickname "Somaliwood".


Columbus is home to The Ohio State Buckeyes college football team. The team is a member of the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, and plays home games at Ohio Stadium. 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. ESPN has recognized the OSU-Michigan rivalry as the greatest rivalry in all of sports in the USA. Moreover, "Buckeye fever" permeates Columbus culture year-round and forms a major part of Columbus's cultural identity. During the winter months, the Buckeyes basketball team is also a major sporting attraction.

Columbus has professional sports teams in hockey, soccer, arena football, and minor league baseball. The Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League and Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League both play at Nationwide Arena. The Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer play at their own stadium, Columbus Crew Stadium, which was the first Soccer-specific stadium built in the United States, and has played host to many events, including world cup qualifiers and the US national team. The Columbus Clippers, Triple A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians (formerly a long-time affiliate of the New York Yankees through 2006, and the Washington Nationals through 2008), currently host their games at Cooper Stadium but are beginning construction on a new ballpark in the Arena District named Huntington Park, currently scheduled to open in April, 2009. From 1985 to 1988, Columbus hosted major league auto racing, with the IMSA Columbus Ford Dealers 500.

Columbus hosts the annual Arnold Classic fitness expo and competition in late February. Hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger , the event has grown to eight Olympic sports and 12,000 athletes competing in 20 world-class events. The annual All American Quarter Horse Congress, the largest single breed horse show in the world, is held at the Ohio Expo Center each October.

Fairs and festivals

Annual festivities in Columbus include the Ohio State Fair—one of the largest state fairs in the country— as well as the Columbus Arts Festival and the Jazz and Ribs Festival, both of which occur on the downtown riverfront. ComFest (short for "Community Festival") is an immense three-day music festival, the largest un-commercial festival in the US, in Goodale Park (just north of downtown Columbus and adjacent to the Short North) with art vendors and live musicians on multiple stages, hundreds of local social and political organizations, body painting and beer. Coinciding with the weekend of ComFest (in no way connected with ComFest) is the large Gay Pride Parade, reflective of the sizeable gay population in Columbus. Another notable festival is the Hot Times festival, held annually in Columbus's historic Olde Towne East neighborhood – a celebration of music, arts, food, and diversity.

Around the Fourth of July, Columbus hosts Red, White, and Boom, the largest fireworks display in the Midwest on the Scioto riverfront downtown to crowds of over 500,000 people, as well as the popular Doo Dah Parade, a nonsensical satire of ordinary parades.

During Memorial Day Weekend, Columbus holds the popular Asian Festival in Franklin Park. Hundreds of restaurants, vendors, and companies open up booths, traditional music and martial arts are performed, and cultural exhibits are set up. In recent years, attendees have numbered over 100,000. Marcon, one of the oldest and largest Science Fiction conventions in the country, is held over the Memorial Day weekend downtown.

During the first weekend in June, the bars of Columbus's trendy North Market District play host to Park Street Festival. The event attracts thousands of visitors from the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond, creating a massive party both inside the bars and on the street.

Also in June, the Park of Roses in Clintonville holds its annual "Rose Festival" featuring 13 acres of blooming roses. Festival Latino is held in June and celebrates Latino culture with music, food and activities. This free event is held downtown and draws over 300,000. Also in June is the historic Juneteenth Celebration in Franklin Park. It commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas; for more than a century, the state of Texas was the primary home of Juneteenth celebrations. The weekend celebration draws out many community activists, organizations and families in the Franklin Park area.

The Jazz and Rib Fest is a free downtown event held each July featuring jazz artists and rib vendors from around the country.

The Origins Game Fair is held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in late June/early July, featuring board games, card games, miniatures games and role-playing games from all over the world.

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. 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. At the end of September, German Village throws an annual Oktoberfest celebration that features authentic German food, beer, music, and crafts.

Columbus also hosts many conventions in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a pastel-colored deconstructivist 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 aforementioned Wexner Center. Completed in 1993, the convention center now is .


Columbus's sole remaining daily newspaper is the Columbus Dispatch; its erstwhile main competitor, the Columbus Citizen-Journal, 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; The Daily Reporter, central Ohio's only daily business and legal newspaper; UWeekly which serves the OSU community; ThisWeek; and "alternative" arts/culture/politics-oriented papers such as The Other Paper and aLIVE (formerly the independent Columbus Alive, and now owned by the Columbus Dispatch). C Magazine, CityScene, and Columbus Monthly'' are the city's magazines. The city's business community is also served by Columbus Business First, a weekly business publication that is part of the Charlotte-based American City Business Journals, which have business papers in cities across the U.S.

Among Columbus's radio stations are WTVN (610) and WBNS (1460), both among the oldest AM stations in the country; WOSU (820 AM) and WOSU-FM (89.7 FM), operated by The Ohio State University; WCBE (90.5 FM), a National Public Radio affiliate run by the Columbus Board of Education; WCOL (92.3 FM), a country music station; WLVQ (96.3 FM), a long-running classic-rock station; WWCD (101.1 FM), Columbus's locally-owned alternative rock station; WUFM (88.7 FM) "Radio U", WRKZ (99.7 FM) "The Rock", a modern rock station, WNCI (97.9 FM), WJZA (103.5 and 104.3 FM) a local smooth jazz radio station,WCVO (104.9 FM) a contemporary Christian radio station, WCKX (107.5 FM) an Urban, hip hop and R&B station.

Columbus's television stations include WCMH 4 (NBC), WSYX 6 (ABC), WBNS 10 (CBS), WTTE 28 (Fox), WOSU 34 (PBS), Columbus Sports Network, WSFJ 51 (TBN), and WWHO 53 (The CW). Columbus was also the birthplace of the Pinwheel Network in 1979. The channel then turned into the world-famous Nickelodeon cable network in 1981 and now is the global force in children's television.

Sister cities

Columbus has ten sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International. Columbus established its first Sister City relationship in 1955 with Genoa, Italy. To commemorate this relationship, Columbus received as a gift from the people of Genoa a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus. The statue, sculpted by artist Edoardo Alfieri, overlooks Broad Street in front of Columbus City Hall.


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