Columbus (/kəˈlʌmbəs/ kə-LUM-bəs) is the state capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 892,533 as of 2018 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US (after Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas) and the second-most populous city in the Midwest (after Chicago, Illinois). It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.
Columbus is the county seat of Franklin County. The municipality has also annexed portions of adjoining 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, government, insurance, banking, defense, aviation, food, clothes, logistics, steel, energy, medical research, health care, hospitality, retail, and technology. The metropolitan area is home to the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world's largest private research and development foundation; Chemical Abstracts Service, the world's largest clearinghouse of chemical information; NetJets, the world's largest fractional ownership jet aircraft fleet; and Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the United States. As of 2018, the city has the headquarters of five corporations in the U.S. Fortune 500: American Electric Power, Cardinal Health, L Brands, Nationwide, and Big Lots, just out of the top 500.
In 2016, Money Magazine ranked Columbus as one of "The 6 Best Big Cities", calling it the best in the Midwest, citing a highly educated workforce and excellent wage growth. In 2012, Columbus was ranked in BusinessWeek's 50 best cities in the United States. In 2013, Forbes gave Columbus an "A" grade as one of the top cities for business in the U.S., and later that year included the city on its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. Columbus was also ranked as the No. 1 up-and-coming tech city in the nation by Forbes in 2008, and the city was ranked a top-ten city by Relocate America in 2010. In 2007, fDi Magazine ranked the city no. 3 in the U.S. for cities of the future, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was rated no. 1 in 2009 by USA Travel Guide.
The area including modern-day Columbus once comprised the Ohio Country, under the nominal control of the French colonial empire through the Viceroyalty of New France from 1663 until 1763. In the 18th century, European traders flocked to the area, attracted by the fur trade.
The area was often caught between warring factions, including American Indian and European interests. In the 1740s, Pennsylvania traders overran the territory until the French forcibly evicted them. In the early 1750s, the Ohio Company sent George Washington to the Ohio Country to survey. Fighting for control of the territory in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) became part of the international Seven Years' War (1756-1763). During this period, the region routinely suffered turmoil, massacres, and battles. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded the Ohio Country to the British Empire.
After the American Revolution, the Virginia Military District became part of Ohio Country as a territory of Virginia. Colonists from the East Coast moved in, but rather than finding an empty frontier, they encountered people of the Miami, Delaware, Wyandot, Shawnee, and Mingo nations, as well as European traders. The tribes resisted expansion by the fledgling United States, leading to years of bitter conflict. The decisive Battle of 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 and Olentangy River. An admirer of Benjamin Franklin, Sullivant chose to name his frontier village "Franklinton". The location was desirable for its proximity to navigable rivers—but Sullivant was initially foiled when, in 1798, a large flood wiped out the new settlement. He persevered, and the village was rebuilt.
After the Revolution land comprising parts of Franklin and adjacent counties was set aside by the United States Congress for settlement by Canadians and Nova Scotians who were sympathetic to the colonial cause and had their land and possessions seized by the British government. The Refugee Tract, consisting of over 103,000 acres, was 42 miles long and 3 to 4 1/2 miles wide, was claimed in part by 62 eligible men. The Statehouse sits on land once contained in the Refugee Tract.
After Ohio achieved statehood in 1803, political infighting among prominent Ohio leaders led to the state capital moving from Chillicothe to Zanesville and back again. Desiring to settle on a location, the state legislature considered Franklinton, Dublin, Worthington, and Delaware before compromising on a plan to build a new city in the state's center, near major transportation routes, primarily rivers. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the city was founded on February 14, 1812, on the "High Banks opposite Franklinton at the Forks of the Scioto most 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 several others. In 1816-1817, Jarvis W. Pike would serve as the 1st Mayor. Although the recent War of 1812 had brought prosperity to the area, the subsequent recession and conflicting claims to the land threatened the new town's success. 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 European immigrants led to the creation of two ethnic enclaves on the city's outskirts. A large 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 the Das Alte Südende (The Old South End). Columbus's German population constructed numerous breweries, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and Capital University.
With a population of 3,500, Columbus was officially chartered as a city on March 3, 1834. On that day the legislature carried out a special act, 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. Columbus annexed the then-separate city of Franklinton in 1837.
In 1850, the Columbus and Xenia Railroad became the first railroad into 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, eight railroads served Columbus, and the rail companies built a new, more elaborate station.
Before the abolition of slavery in the South in 1863, the Underground Railroad was active in Columbus; led, in part, by James Preston Poindexter. Poindexter arrived in Columbus in the 1830s and became a Baptist Preacher and leader in the city's African-American community until the turn of the century.
During the Civil War, Columbus was a major base for the volunteer Union Army. It housed 26,000 troops and held up to 9,000 Confederate prisoners of war at Camp Chase, at what is now the Hilltop neighborhood of west Columbus. Over 2,000 Confederate soldiers remain buried at the site, making it one of the North's largest Confederate cemeteries. North of Columbus, along the Delaware Road, the Regular Army established Camp Thomas, where the 18th U.S. Infantry organized and trained.
By virtue of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (which became Ohio State University) founded in 1870 on the former estate of William and Hannah Neil.
By the end of the 19th century, Columbus was home to several major manufacturing businesses. The city became known as the "Buggy Capital of the World," thanks to the two dozen buggy factories—notably the Columbus Buggy Company, founded in 1875 by C.D. Firestone. The Columbus Consolidated Brewing Company also rose to prominence during this time and might have achieved even greater success were it not for the Anti-Saloon League 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 labor organizations. 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. In 1894, James Thurber, who would go on to an illustrious literary career in Paris and New York City, was born in the city. Today Ohio State's theater department has a performance center named in his honor, and his youthful home near the Discovery District is on the National Register of Historic Places.
"The Columbus Experiment" was an environmental project in 1908, which involved construction of the first water plant in the world to apply filtration and softening, designed and invented by two brothers, Clarence and Charles Hoover. Those working to construct the project included Jeremiah O'Shaughnessy, name-bearer of the Columbus metropolitan area's O'Shaughnessy Dam. This invention helped drastically reduce typhoid deaths. The essential design is still used today.
Columbus earned one of its nicknames, The Arch City, because of the dozens of 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. The city tore down the arches and replaced them with cluster lights in 1914 but reconstructed them from metal in the Short North district in 2002 for their unique historical interest.
On March 25, 1913, the Great Flood of 1913 devastated the neighborhood of Franklinton, leaving over ninety people dead and thousands of West Side residents homeless. To prevent 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-World War I 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 to the New Hayden Building and remained in the city until 1941. In 1922, the association's name was changed to the National Football League. A decade later, in 1931, at a convention in the city, the Jehovah's Witnesses took that name by which they are known today. The effects of the Great Depression were less severe in Columbus, as the city's diversified economy helped it fare better than its Rust Belt neighbors. World War II brought many new jobs and another population surge. This time, most new arrivals were migrants from the "extraordinarily depressed rural areas" of Appalachia, who would soon account for more than a third of Columbus's growing 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.
The construction of the interstate highway signaled the arrival of rapid suburb development in central Ohio. 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 land area and in population.
Efforts to revitalize downtown Columbus have had some success in recent decades, though like most major American cities, some architectural heritage was lost in the process. In the 1970s, landmarks such as Union Station and the Neil House Hotel were razed to construct high-rise offices and big retail space. The National City Bank building was constructed in 1977, as well as the Nationwide Plazas and other towers that sprouted during this period. The construction of the Greater Columbus Convention Center has brought major conventions and trade shows to the city. The Scioto Mile is a showcase park being developed along the riverfront, an area that already had the Miranova Corporate Center and The Condominiums at North Bank Park. Corporate interests have developed Capitol Square, including the local NBC affiliate at the corner of Broad and High.
The 2010 United States foreclosure crisis forced the city to purchase numerous foreclosed, vacant properties to renovate or demolish them–at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. As of February 2011, Columbus had 6,117 vacant properties, according to city officials.
In 1907, 14-year-old Cromwell Dixon built the SkyCycle, a pedal-powered blimp, which he flew at Driving Park. Three years later, one of the Wright Brothers' exhibition pilots, Phillip Parmalee, conducted the world's first commercial cargo flight when he flew two packages containing 88 kilograms of silk 70 miles (110 km) from Dayton to Columbus in a Wright Model B.
Military aviators from Columbus distinguished themselves during World War I. Six Columbus pilots, led by top ace Eddie Rickenbacker, achieved forty-two "kills" – a full 10% of all US aerial victories in the war, and more than the aviators of any other American city.
After the war, John Glenn Columbus International Airport became the axis of a coordinated rail-to-air transcontinental system that moved passengers from the East Coast to the West. TAT, which later became TWA, provided commercial service, following Charles Lindbergh's promotion of Columbus to the nation for such a hub. Following the failure of a bond levy in 1927 to build the airport, Lindbergh campaigned in the city in 1928, and the next bond levy passed that year. On July 8, 1929, the airport opened for business with the inaugural TAT west-bound flight from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma. Among the 19 passengers on that flight was Amelia Earhart, with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone attending the opening ceremonies.
In 1964, Ohio native Geraldine Fredritz Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world, leaving from Columbus and piloting the Spirit of Columbus. Her flight lasted nearly a month and set a record for speed for planes under 3,858 pounds (1,750 kg).
The confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers is just north-west of Downtown Columbus. Several smaller tributaries course through the Columbus metropolitan 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 1,132 ft (345 m) above sea level near New Albany, and the low point being 670 ft (200 m) where the Scioto River leaves the county near Lockbourne. Numerous ravines near the rivers and creeks also add variety to the landscape. Tributaries to Alum Creek and the Olentangy River cut through shale, while tributaries to the Scioto River cut through limestone.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 223.11 square miles (577.85 km2), of which 217.17 square miles (562.47 km2) is land and 5.94 square miles (15.38 km2) is water.
The city's climate is humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfa) transitional with the humid subtropical climate to the south characterized by warm, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. Columbus is within USDA hardiness zone 6a. Winter snowfall is relatively light, since the city is not in the typical path of strong winter lows, such as the Nor'easters that strike cities farther east. It is also too far south and west for lake-effect snow from Lake Erie to have much effect, although the lakes to the North contribute to long stretches of cloudy spells in winter.
The highest temperature recorded in Columbus was 106 °F (41 °C), which occurred twice during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s—once on July 21, 1934, and again on July 14, 1936. The lowest recorded temperature was −22 °F (−30 °C), occurring on January 19, 1994, with a minimum wind chill of −63 °F (−53 °C). Columbus is subject to severe weather typical to the Midwestern United States. Severe thunderstorms can bring lightning, large hail and on rare occasion tornadoes, especially during the spring and sometimes through fall. A tornado that occurred on October 11, 2006 caused F2 damage. Floods, blizzards, and ice storms can also occur from time to time.
In 1900, whites made up 93.4% of the population. Though European immigration has declined, the Columbus metropolitan area has recently experienced increases in African, Asian, and Latin American immigration, including groups from Mexico, India, Somalia, and China. Although the Asian population is diverse, the city's Hispanic community is mainly made up of Mexicans, though there is a notable Puerto Rican population. Many other countries of origin are represented in lesser numbers, largely due to the international draw of Ohio State University. 2008 estimates indicate roughly 116,000 of the city's residents are foreign-born, accounting for 82% of the new residents between 2000–2006 at a rate of 105 per week. 40% of the immigrants came from Asia, 23% from Africa, 22% from Latin America, and 13% from Europe. The city had the second largest Somali and Somali American population in the country, as of 2004.
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 is considered a "typical" American city, leading retail and restaurant chains to use it as a test market for new products.
As of the census of 2010, there were 787,033 people, 331,602 households, and 176,037 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,624.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,399.2/km2). There were 370,965 housing units at an average density of 1,708.2 per square mile (659.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 61.5% White, 28.0% Black, 0.3% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.9% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.6% of the population.
Of the 331,602 households, 29.1% had children under the age of 18, 32.0% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.9% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.04.
The median age in the city was 31.2 years. 23.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 14% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 32.3% were from 25 to 44; 21.8% were from 45 to 64; and 8.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.
According to the "2013 Japanese Direct Investment Survey" by the Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit, 705 Japanese nationals lived in Columbus, making it the municipality with the state's second largest Japanese national population, after Dublin.
According to Sperling's BestPlaces, 37.6% of Columbus residents are religious. Of this group, 15.7% identify as Protestant, 13.7% as Catholic, 1.5% as Jewish, 0.6% as Muslim, and 0.5% as Mormon. Places of worship include over 30 Lutheran congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), St. Paul's Lutheran Church and Lamb of God Lutheran Church of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, ISKCON Columbus, Trinity Episcopal Church, Global Community United Methodist Church, Christian Community Church North, the Glenwood United Methodist Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Second Presbyterian Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church's St. Joseph's Cathedral, (the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus), the St. Thomas More Newman Center (Catholic), Holy Name Catholic Church, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Columbus Chinese Christian Church, All Nations Christian Fellowship (ANCF), Veritas Community Church, the Indianola Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church's Annunciation Cathedral, North Columbus Friends Meeting (Quaker), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Columbus Ohio Temple, Russian Baptist Church of Columbus (in Dublin, OH), the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Center, the Muslim Noor Islamic Cultural Center, Beth Jacob Synagogue (Orthodox Jewish) and the Reform Jewish Temple Israel, the oldest synagogue in Columbus, Life Church at Easton in NE Columbus and The First Baptist Church of Columbus, Ohio, one of the oldest baptist churches in Columbus, in East Columbus.
Megachurches include Xenos Christian Fellowship, Vineyard Columbus, World Harvest Church in a southeast suburb and the First Church of God in Southeast Columbus off of State Route 104 and Refugee Road.
Columbus has a generally strong and diverse economy based on education, insurance, banking, fashion, defense, aviation, food, logistics, steel, energy, medical research, health care, hospitality, retail, and technology. In 2010, it was one of the 10 best big cities in the country, according to Relocate America, a real estate research firm. MarketWatch ranked Columbus and its metro area as the No. 7 best place in the country to operate a business in 2008. In 2012, Forbes Magazine ranked the city as the best city for working moms. In 2007, the city was ranked No. 3 in the United States by fDi magazine for "Cities of the Future", and No. 4 for most business-friendly in the country. Columbus was ranked as the seventh strongest economy in the United States in 2006, and the best in Ohio, according to Policom Corp. According to the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, the GDP of Columbus in 2016 was $131 billion.
During the recession beginning in late 2007, Columbus's economy was not impacted as much as the rest of the country, due to decades of diversification work by long-time corporate residents, business leaders, and political leaders. The administration of former mayor Michael B. Coleman continued this work, although the city faced financial turmoil and had to increase taxes, allegedly due in part to fiscal mismanagement. Because 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.
In 2019, the city had five corporations named to the U.S. Fortune 500 list: Alliance Data, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, American Electric Power, L Brands, and Cardinal Health in suburban Dublin. Other major employers include schools (for example, Ohio State University) and hospitals (among others, the Ohio State University Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital, which are among the teaching hospitals of the Ohio State University College of Medicine), hi-tech research and development including the Battelle Memorial Institute, information/library companies such as OCLC and Chemical Abstracts Service, steel processing and pressure cylinder manufacturer Worthington Industries, financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase and Huntington Bancshares, as well as Owens Corning. Wendy's and White Castle are also headquartered in Columbus. Major foreign corporations operating or with divisions in the city include Germany-based Siemens and Roxane Laboratories, Finland-based Vaisala, Tomasco Mulciber Inc., A Y Manufacturing, as well as Switzerland-based ABB Group and Mettler Toledo.
Columbus has many 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.
Construction of the Ohio Statehouse began in 1839 on a 10-acre (4 ha) plot of land donated by four prominent Columbus landowners. This plot formed Capitol Square, which was not part of the city's original layout. Built of Columbus limestone from the Marble Cliff Quarry Co., the Statehouse stands on foundations 18 feet (5.5 m) deep, laid by prison labor gangs rumored to have been composed largely of masons jailed for minor infractions. It 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. There are several artworks within and outside the building, including the William McKinley Monument dedicated in 1907.
Unlike many U.S. state capitol buildings, the Ohio State Capitol owes little to the architecture of the national Capitol. During the Statehouse's 22 year 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 committee's original intentions. The Statehouse was opened to the legislature and the public in 1857 and completed in 1861. It is 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, the Jefferson Center has restored 11 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 "Red Art" sculpture was designed by Ric Petry, and constructed and installed in 2001. The sculpture is on the CCAD campus and weighs 24,000 pounds (11,000 kg).
Established in 1848, Green Lawn Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the Midwestern United States.
Within the Driving Park heritage district lies the original home of Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I fighter pilot ace. Built in 1895, Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
The Columbus Museum of Art opened in 1931, and its collection focuses on European and American art up to early modernism that includes extraordinary examples of Impressionism, German Expressionism, and Cubism. The Wexner Center for the Arts, a contemporary art gallery and research facility, is on the Ohio State University campus. Also on campus is the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame, in the Jerome Schottenstein Center (home of the basketball and men's ice hockey teams), as well as the Jack Nicklaus museum next door.
Located on 88 acres (36 ha), just east of Downtown in Franklin Park, the Franklin Park Conservatory is a botanical garden that opened in 1895. It features over 400 species of plants in a large Victorian style glass greenhouse building that includes rain forest, desert, and Himalayan mountain biomes.
COSI Columbus, (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 River. In 2009, Parents magazine named COSI one of the ten best Science Centers for families in the country.
The Ohio History Connection is headquartered in Columbus, with its flagship museum, the 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) Ohio History Center, 4 mi (6.4 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 Museum and Garden 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. In 1989, Columbus hosted the "Son of Heaven: Imperial Arts of China," a cultural exchange display from China featuring the artifacts of the ancient Chinese emperors.
Columbus is the home of many renowned performing arts institutions including the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Opera Columbus, BalletMet Columbus, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, CATCO, Columbus Children's Theatre, Shadowbox Cabaret, and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Throughout the summer, the Actors' Theatre of Columbus offers free performances of Shakespearean plays in an open-air amphitheater in Schiller Park in historic German Village.
The Columbus Youth Ballet Academy was founded in the 1980s by internationally celebrated ballerina and artistic director Shir Lee Wu, a discovery of Martha Graham. Wu is now the artistic director of the Columbus City Ballet School, while her instruction remains in strong demand globally. Her students of the last couple decades have furthered their education at institutions such as The Juilliard School, School of American Ballet, and the Houston Ballet Academy, while some have gone on to perform with companies such as the New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Martha Graham Contemporary Dance Company, and BalletMet Columbus. Her students have won gold medals at the Youth American Grand Prix competition in New York and others have been finalists in competitions such as the Concord De Dance de Paris.
Columbus has several large concert venues, including the Nationwide Arena and Jerome Schottenstein Center. The EXPRESS LIVE! (formerly LC Pavilion; formerly the PromoWest Pavilion), Veterans Memorial Auditorium (under reconstruction), Mershon Auditorium, and the Newport Music Hall round out the city's music performance spaces.
In May 2009, the Lincoln Theatre, formerly a center for Black culture in Columbus, reopened after an extensive restoration. Not far from the Lincoln Theatre is the King Arts Complex, which hosts a variety of cultural events. The city also has several theatres downtown, including the historic Palace Theatre, the Ohio Theatre, and the Southern Theatre. Broadway Across America often presents touring Broadway musicals in these larger venues. The Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts houses the Capitol Theatre and three smaller studio theatres, providing a home for resident performing arts companies.
Academy Award-winning movies filmed in Columbus and the central Ohio area include Steven Soderbergh's Traffic in 2000. Other movies filmed in Columbus and the central Ohio area include Horrors of War (by local filmmakers Peter John Ross, John Whitney, and producer Philip R. Garrett) in 2006, Little Man Tate, Fallen Angels in 2006, Steven Soderbergh's Bubble in 2005, Criminal Minds in 1998, Wolfgang Petersen's Air Force One in 1997, Tango & Cash in 1989, Speak in 2004, Parker in 2013 and Teachers in 1984.
Columbus hosts two major league professional sports teams: the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League (NHL) which play at Nationwide Arena and Columbus Crew SC of Major League Soccer (MLS) which play at Mapfre Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium built in the United States for a Major League Soccer team. The Crew were one of the original members of MLS and won their first MLS Cup in 2008.
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), play in Huntington Park, which opened in 2009. The city was home to the Tigers football team from 1901–1926. In the 1990s the Columbus Quest won the only two championships during American Basketball League's existence.
Columbus is home to one of the nation's most competitive intercollegiate programs, the Ohio State Buckeyes of Ohio State University. The program has placed in the top-10 final standings of the Director's Cup five times since 2000–2001, including No. 3 for the 2002–2003 season and No. 4 for the 2003–2004 season. The university funds 36 varsity teams, consisting of 17 male, 16 female, and three co-educational teams. In 2007–2008 and 2008–2009, the program generated the second-most revenue for college programs behind the Texas Longhorns of The University of Texas at Austin.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are a member of the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, and the football team plays home games at Ohio Stadium. The Ohio State-Michigan football game (known colloquially as "The Game") is the final game of the regular season and is played in November each year, alternating between Columbus and Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2000, ESPN ranked the Ohio State-Michigan game as the greatest rivalry in North American sports. Moreover, "Buckeye fever" permeates Columbus culture year-round and forms a major part of Columbus's cultural identity. Former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, an Ohio native who studied at Ohio State at one point and who coached in Columbus, was an Ohio State football fan and major donor to the university who contributed to the construction of the band facility at the renovated Ohio Stadium, which bears his family's name. During the winter months, the Buckeyes basketball and hockey teams are also major sporting attractions.
Columbus hosts the annual Arnold Sports Festival Hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the event has grown to eight Olympic sports and 22,000 athletes competing in 80 events. In conjunction with the Arnold Classic, the city hosted three consecutive Ultimate Fighting Championships events between 2007–2009, as well as other mixed martial arts events.
Columbus has a long history in motorsports, hosting the world's first 24-hour car race at the Columbus Driving Park in 1905, organized by the Columbus Auto Club. The Columbus Motor Speedway was built in 1945 and held their first motorcycle race in 1946. In 2010 the Ohio State University student-built Buckeye Bullet 2, a fuel cell vehicle, set an FIA world speed record for electric vehicles in reaching 303.025 mph, eclipsing the previous record of 302.877 mph.
The Columbus Bullies were two-time champions of the American Football League (1940–1941). The Columbus Thunderbolts were formed in 1991 for the Arena Football League, and then relocated to Cleveland as the Cleveland Thunderbolts; the Columbus Destroyers were the next team of the AFL, playing from 2004 until the league's demise in 2008 and planning a return in 2020.
Parks and 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. Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park is notable for its re-introduction of wild bison to the park in 2011, a herd that has grown to 11 bison that are often on view for park visitors. The Big Darby Creek in the southwestern part of town is considered to be especially significant for its ecological diversity. Clintonville is home to Whetstone Park, which includes the Park of Roses, a 13-acre (5.3 ha) rose garden. The Chadwick Arboretum on the OSU campus features a large and varied collection of plants. Downtown, the 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 opened in 2009. The park includes a large Audubon nature center focused on the excellent bird watching the area is known for.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's collections include lowland gorillas, polar bears, manatees, Siberian tigers, cheetahs, and kangaroos. Its director emeritus, Jack Hanna, made frequent appearances on national television, including on The Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman. In 2009, it was ranked as the best zoo in the United States, and in 2017 was again ranked as one of the 10 best zoos in the country. Also in the zoo complex is the Zoombezi Bay water park and amusement park.
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.
In the middle of May, Columbus is home to Rock on the Range, marketed as "America's Biggest Rock Festival." The festival, which takes place on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, has hosted Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slipknot, and other notable bands.
During the first weekend in June, the bars of Columbus's trendy North Market District host the Park Street Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to a massive party in bars and on the street. June's second-to-last weekend sees one of the Midwest's largest gay pride parades, reflecting the city's sizable gay population. During the last weekend of June, Goodale Park hosts ComFest (short for "Community Festival"), an immense three-day music festival marketed as the largest non-commercial festival in the U.S., with art vendors, live music on multiple stages, hundreds of local social and political organizations, body painting, and beer.
The Hot Times festival, a celebration of music, arts, food, and diversity, is held annually in the historic Olde Towne East neighborhood.
The city's largest dining events, Restaurant Week Columbus, are held in mid-July and mid-January. In 2010, more than 40,000 diners went to 40 participating restaurants, and $5,000 was donated the Mid-Ohio Foodbank on behalf of sponsors and participating restaurants.
The Juneteenth Ohio Festival is held each year at Franklin Park on Father's Day weekend. Started by Mustafaa Shabazz, JuneteenthOhio is one of the largest African American festivals in the United States, including three full days of music, food, dance, and entertainment by local and national recording artists. The festival holds a Father's Day celebration, honoring local fathers.
Around the Fourth of July, Columbus hosts Red, White, and Boom! on the Scioto riverfront downtown, attracting crowds of over 500,000 people and featuring the largest fireworks display in Ohio. The Doo Dah Parade is also held at this time.
During Memorial Day Weekend, the Asian Festival is held 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.
The Jazz and Rib Fest is a free downtown event held each July featuring jazz artists like Randy Weston, D. Bohannon Clark, and Wayne Shorter, along with rib vendors from around the country.
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's 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.
The Short North also hosts HighBall Halloween, Masquerade on High, a fashion show and street parade that closes down High Street. In 2011, in its fourth year, HighBall Halloween gained notoriety as it accepted its first Expy award. HighBall Halloween has much to offer for those interested in fashion and the performing and visual arts or for those who want to celebrate Halloween with food and drinks from all around the city. Each year the event is put on with a different theme.
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. Completed in 1993, the 1,700,000 square feet (160,000 m2) convention center was designed by architect Peter Eisenman, who also designed the Wexner Center.
Developer Richard E. Jacobs built the area's first three major shopping malls in the 1960s: Westland, Northland, and Eastland. Of these, only Eastland remains in operation. Columbus City Center was built downtown in 1988, alongside the first location of Lazarus; this mall closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2011. Easton Town Center was built in 1999, and Polaris Fashion Place in 2001.
Law and government
The city is administered by a mayor and a seven-member unicameral council elected in two classes every two years to four-year terms at large. Columbus is the largest city in the United States that elects its city council at large as opposed to districts. The mayor appoints the director of safety and the director of public service. The people elect the 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. Andrew Ginther has been the mayor of Columbus since 2016.
In 2009, Columbus was ranked the 38th-most-dangerous U.S. city in the United States by CQ Press, using weighted crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2011, Columbus had 92 homicides, an average year for the city, and 658 violent crimes for every 100,000 people.
Located in the Hilltop neighborhood, the Strategic Analysis and Information Center (SAIC) fusion center is the state's primary public intelligence hub and one of the few in the country that uses state, local, federal, and private resources.
Columbus is the home of two public colleges: Ohio State University, one of the largest college campuses in the United States, and Columbus State Community College. In 2009, Ohio State University was ranked No. 19 in the country by U.S. News & World Report for best public university, and No. 56 overall, scoring in the first tier of schools nationally. Some of OSU's graduate school programs placed in the top 5, including No. 5 for best veterinary program, and No. 5 for best pharmacy program. The specialty graduate programs of social psychology was ranked No. 2, dispute resolution was ranked No. 5, vocational education No. 2, and elementary education, secondary teacher education, administration/supervision No. 5.
Private institutions in Columbus include Capital University Law School, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Fortis College, DeVry University, Ohio Business College, Miami-Jacobs Career College, Ohio Institute of Health Careers, Bradford School and Franklin University, as well as the religious schools Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary, 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's educational landscape: Bexley's Capital University, Westerville's Otterbein University, and Delaware's Ohio Wesleyan University.
Columbus City Schools (CCS), formerly Columbus Public Schools, is the largest district in Ohio, with 55,000 pupils. CCS operates 142 elementary, middle, and high schools, including a number of magnet schools (which are referred to as alternative schools within the school system). The suburbs operate their own districts, typically serving students in one or more townships, with districts sometimes crossing municipal boundaries. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus also operates several parochial elementary and high schools. The area's second largest school district is South-Western City Schools, which encompasses southwestern Franklin County. There are also several private schools in the area. St. Paul's Lutheran School is a K-8 Christian school of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Columbus.
Some sources claim the first kindergarten in the United States was established here by Louisa Frankenberg, a former student of Friedrich Fröbel. Frankenberg immigrated to the city in 1838. In addition, Indianola Junior High School (now the Graham Expeditionary Middle School) became the nation's first junior high 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.
The Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) has served central Ohio residents since 1873. With a collection of 3 million items, the system has 22 locations throughout the area. This library is one of the country's most-used library systems and is consistently among the top-ranked large city libraries according to "Hennen's American Public Library Ratings." CML was rated the No. 1 library system in the nation in 1999, 2005, and 2008. It has been in the top four every year since 1999 when the rankings were first published in American Libraries magazine, often challenging up-state neighbor Cuyahoga County Public Library for the top spot. CML was named Library of the Year by the Library Journal in 2010.
Several weekly and daily newspapers serve Columbus and Central Ohio. The major daily newspaper in Columbus is The Columbus Dispatch; its erstwhile main competitor, The Columbus Citizen-Journal, ceased publication on December 31, 1985. There are also neighborhood/suburb specific papers, such as the Dispatch Printing Company's ThisWeek Community News, which serves 23 suburbs and Columbus, the Columbus Messenger, and the independently owned Short North Gazette. The Lantern and UWeekly serve the Ohio State University community. "Alternative" arts/culture/politics-oriented papers include Outlook Media's Outlook: Columbus (serving the city's LGBT community), and aLIVE (formerly the independent Columbus Alive and now owned by the Columbus Dispatch). The newest addition to the Columbus media scene is Live Local! Columbus, a free, quarterly magazine that focuses on local arts, culture, and events.
The Columbus Magazine, CityScene, (614) Magazine, and Columbus Monthly are the city's magazines. Online media publication ColumbusUnderground.com also serves the Columbus region as an independently owned alternative voice.
The city's business community is served by The Daily Reporter, central Ohio's only printed daily business and legal newspaper; Columbus Business First, a daily online/weekly print business publication that is part of the Charlotte-based American City Business Journals, and Columbus CEO, a monthly business magazine. Gongwer News Service, a daily independent political newsletter, provides extensive Statehouse coverage.
Columbus is the base for 12 television stations and is the 32nd largest television market as of September 24, 2016.
Warner Cable introduced its two-way interactive QUBE system in Columbus in December 1977, which consisted of specialty channels that would evolve into national networks Nickelodeon, MTV and The Movie Channel. QUBE also displayed one of the earliest uses of Pay-per-view and video on demand.
Columbus is home to the 36th largest radio market. The following box contains all of the radio stations in the area, as well as their current format:
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 12 degrees west of due North, parallel to High Street; the Avenues (vis. Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Seventh Avenue, and so on.) 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 1 1⁄4 mi (2.0 km) 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 1 mi (1.6 km) (along the same street). For example, 351 W 5th Avenue is approximately 1⁄2 mi (800 m) 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 be 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 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. They combine downtown for about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) in an area locally known as "The Split", which is a major traffic congestion point, especially during rush hour. U.S. Route 40, originally known as the National Road, runs east–west through Columbus, comprising Main Street to the east of downtown and Broad Street to the west. U.S. Route 23 runs roughly north–south, while U.S. Route 33 runs northwest-to-southeast. The Interstate 270 Outerbelt encircles most 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 or 3 hour drive of Columbus.
The Columbus riverfront hosts a few notable bridges which have been built since 2000. The 700 ft (210 m) Main Street Bridge opened on July 30, 2010, and is the first bridge of its kind in North America. The bridge is directly south of COSI on the Scioto river, featuring three lanes of traffic (one westbound and two eastbound) and another separated lane for pedestrians and bikes. The Rich Street Bridge opened in July 2012 and is adjacent to the Main Street Bridge connecting Rich Street on the east side of the river with Town Street on the west. The Lane Avenue Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that opened on November 14, 2003, in the University District and spans the Olentangy river with three lanes of traffic each way.
The city's primary airport, John Glenn International Airport (CMH), is on the city's east side. Formerly known as Port Columbus, John Glenn provides service to Toronto, Canada, and Cancun, Mexico (on a seasonal basis), as well as to most domestic destinations, including all the major hubs along with San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle by June 2019. The airport was a hub for discount carrier Skybus Airlines and continues to be a home to NetJets, the world's largest fractional ownership air carrier. According to a 2005 market survey, John Glenn Columbus International Airport attracts about 50% of its passengers from outside of its 60-mile (97 km) radius primary service region. It is the 52nd-busiest airport in the United States by total passenger boardings.
Rickenbacker International Airport, in southern Franklin County, is a major cargo facility that is used by the Ohio Air National Guard. Allegiant Air offers nonstop service from Rickenbacker to Florida destinations. Ohio State University Don Scott Airport and Bolton Field are other large general-aviation facilities in the Columbus area.
Columbus maintains a widespread municipal bus service called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound, Barons Bus Lines, Miller Transportation, GoBus, and other carriers.
Columbus does not have passenger rail service. The city's major train station, Union Station, that was a stop along Amtrak's National Limited train service until 1977 was razed in 1979, and the Greater Columbus Convention Center now stands in its place. Until Amtrak's founding in 1971, the Penn Central ran the Cincinnati Limited to Cincinnati to the southwest (in prior years the train continued to New York City to the east); the Ohio State Limited between Cincinnati and Cleveland, with Union Station serving as a major intermediate stop (the train going unnamed between 1967 and 1971) and the Spirit of St. Louis, which ran between St. Louis and New York City until 1971. The station was also a stop along the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Norfolk and Western Railroad, the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. Columbus is now the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a local rail or intercity rail connection (Phoenix opened a light-rail system in 2008, but still lacks an Amtrak connection.)
As of 2009, plans for the Ohio Hub project proposed a high-speed rail service connecting Columbus with Cincinnati and to a proposed hub in Cleveland and onward to the east. As of 2018, the project remained unfunded.
Cycling as transportation is steadily increasing in Columbus with its relatively flat terrain, intact urban neighborhoods, large student population, and off-road bike paths. The city has put forth the 2012 Bicentennial Bikeways Plan as well as a move toward a Complete Streets policy. Grassroots efforts such as Bike To Work Week, Consider Biking, Yay Bikes, Third Hand Bicycle Co-op , Franklinton Cycleworks, and Cranksters, a local radio program focused on urban cycling, have contributed to cycling as transportation.
Columbus also hosts urban cycling "off-shots" with messenger-style "alleycat" races as well as unorganized group rides, a monthly Critical Mass ride, bicycle polo, art showings, movie nights, and a variety of bicycle-friendly businesses and events throughout the year. All this activity occurs despite Columbus's frequently inclement weather.
The new Main Street Bridge features a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane separated from traffic, as does the Rich Street Bridge.
The city has its own public bicycle system. CoGo Bike Share system has a network of 335 bicycles and 41 docking stations (2016). PBSC Urban Solutions, a company based in Canada, supplies technology and equipment. Bird electric scooters have also been introduced.
The city of Columbus has a higher than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 9.8 percent of Columbus households lacked a car, a number that fell slightly to 9.4 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Columbus averaged 1.55 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
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.
- Genoa, Italy (1955)
- Tainan, Taiwan (1980)
- Hefei, People's Republic of China (1988)
- Odense, Denmark (1988)
- Seville, Spain (1988)
- Dresden, Germany (1992)
- Herzliya, Israel (1996)
- Ahmedabad, India (2008)
- Curitiba, Brazil (2014)
- Accra, Ghana (2015)