Ohio didn’t have a formal capital when it became a state in 1812, so it decided to create one. But where to build it? Although the area where Columbus Ohio is today wasn’t considered as a possible site, the county made a last-minute bid to gain the honor. It offered the state 1,200 acres of land and $50,000 to help fund the cost of building the capital and a state penitentiary. When it won its bid, Columbus was immediately established as a city (it hasn’t existed previously) and the rest became history.
During the Civil War, the city experienced tremendous growth in its population, manufacturing base, and revenues. This provides valuable diversification to its economy. Its diversification was further enhanced in 1873 when it became the site of an agricultural and mechanical college that was to become Ohio State University. The university eventually provided the type of technical skills required to attract companies that produced technologically sophisticated products.
A Short Columbus Visit
In spite of living in the mid-west for a number of years, we had never visited Columbus. Admittedly, our stay was brief and focused on a handful of the city’s neighborhoods and attractions.
- Downtown has a mix of modern and traditional buildings that represent a range of architectural styles from classical revival to art deco, a number of which now host murals
- Arena District is now an attractive area of mid-rise apartments, condos, and offices located on tree-lined streets that houses restaurants, stores, and bars
- The Short North Arts District is the former home of warehouses and multi-story dwellings. They have been reinvented into upscale apartments and condos with hotels, restaurants, bars, and fashionable stores and galleries lining the streets.
- Victorian Village is home to a number of 19th-century Victorian, Edwardian, and Queen Ann-style homes.
- German Village is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. It has its share of 19th-century buildings although these are generally smaller and more austere than those in Victorian Village. It is also home to Shiller Park which houses another local attraction, a bronze statue of “Umbrella Girl”, a Bavarian-dressed girl carrying an umbrella.
Among the other attractions we visited were:
- Ohio Statehouse is a graceful, domed Greek Revival building surrounded by bronze statues including many important state and national figures. The first floor has stone arches that look more like a fortress than a state capital. It does however house a stained-glass version of the state’s Great Seal; a mosaic map of the state showing each of its counties and allowing visitors to easily find information on the counties; and a number of historical items that provide explanations of the structure of the state government, the role of various state departments and more.
- The Topiary Park contains a collection of shrubs sculpted in the form of figures from Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte”. It includes floral gardens surrounded by spiral topiaries and recognizable representations of the men and women in the paintings (including wire parasols) and even organic representations of boats located in a pond. It is an unusual place to visit.
Other noteworthy places to visit include:
- Ohio History Center, which has exhibits on Ohio’s history;
- Columbus Botanical Gardens, where Chihuly glass sculptures
- Columbus Museum of Art which has nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European modern works of art
- For golfers, the Jack Nicklaus museum with its 2000 pieces of golf memorabilia.
We only had time for one restaurant visit at Lemongrass Fuson Bistro, a pretty, casual restaurant. We enjoyed a grilled chicken and avocado wrapped in a spinach tortilla wrap with peanut sauce with a cup of miso soup; and a Tom Yum (spicy lemongrass) soup filled with generous portions of chive dumplings and poached shrimp.