Old North Columbus- A quality historic community north of Ohio State University

Old North Columbus was founded in 1847 as a stand-alone city. North Columbus in its early years was a major stage coach stop between Columbus and Worthington to the north and had a history of thriving saloon and speakeasy scene. North Columbus was also the site of a large  factory and a mill along the banks of the Olentangy River. The establishment of Ohio State in 1871 brought a major boom to the neighborhood and helped fill it in by the 1920s.

Old North Columbus never saw the level of disinvestment as places like Weinland park after WWII nor wholesale take over of students as occurred in the University District to the south. While students comprise a large portion of the neighborhood, there is still a sizable homeownership community here. High Street has also held on to much of its late 19th century commercial architecture and hosts a great array of ethnic restaurants and decent amount of neighborhood serving businesses. Also a quality urban node at Summit and Hudson and a pair of attractive boulevard streets and ravines north of here. Neighborhood branding signs were installed in the early 2000s along High Street to bolster the community’s identity. The biggest area for improvement is new quality urban in-fill along High street and Lane Ave. redeveloping surface parking lots and low-rise auto centric uses. Given the development pressures nearby in OSU, I’m confident this will come soon. The neighborhood also desperately needs walkable schools within the community to attract more generational diversity and long term homeowners. 
Click here to view my Old North Columbus Album on Flickr


* Solid multi-model access with good transit and public infrastructure access.
* Good economic diversity and only decent racial diversity.
* Great array of rental options generally renting at moderate rates.
* A lot more for sale housing here than other districts surrounding OSU.
* Pretty safe district with only a little bit of blight.
* Great park amenities including the extensive Tuttle Park which includes extensive woods, a swimming pool, recreational center. Glen Echo Park follows the Glenn Echo Stream with recreational trails and bike trail along the Olentangy River.
* Good tree canopy thanks to the large amount of park space here.
* Culturally a great array of ethnic restaurants, plenty of bars & cafes, lots of live music venues, and convenient access to cultural amenities of OSU.
* Decent retail amenities, especially along High Street, a drug store, hardware store, bike shop, several record stores, and some other neighborhood retail. Supermarkets located on the edges of the neighborhood along with a Lowes Improvement Store and Target.
* Quality historic commercial along High Street with good historic residential helped with a fair amount of late 19th century architecture.
* High street and Lane Ave’s urban form is a mixed bag. Another nice urban node at Summit and Hudson.


* Limited generational diversity but more family households than other student heavy districts around OSU.
* Modern in-fill is a mixed bag. Some nice dense mixed-use infill along High, with plenty of auto centric buildings remaining. Plenty of blah post WWII apartments throughout.
* No schools within Old North Columbus but some in surrounding neighborhoods.

Columbus’ University District- home to the City’s largest off-campus student haven

For the purposes of this evaluation I define the University District/Indianola Terrace as the area between Lane/Northwood and 11th street and between High Street and the railroad tracks. University District is actually a much broader area by most standards encompassing North Old Columbus and South Campus. Indianola Terrace is east of Summit Street.

Like much of north Columbus, the University District grew on a similar track with Ohio State, which opened in 1870 but didn’t really start to expand until the early 20th century. To people’s surprise the neighborhood was a fashionable “suburb” in the first half of the 20th century with a mix of brick rowhouses and large SF homes. Several curved roads and ravines lie between 16th and Lane Ave. The influx of servicemen into the neighborhood after WWII seeking housing lead to a population boom and the construction of new apartments and conversion of many SF homes to MF.  Perceived problems of vehicular congestion, crime, and litter resulted from this quick rise in density and the University Area Commission was created in 1972 to address them.

Its difficult for me to say whether I view the change of University District post WWII as necessarily an urban “negative”. On the one hand it most certainly rapidly altered the neighborhood creating a more transient less cared after place. On the other hand, it created a density level helpful in fostering vibrancy, mixed-use, and significant retail on Hight Street. In hindsight it probably would have been wise to rezone parts of the neighborhood closest to campus for high density apartments, and try to preserve homeownership heavy pockets east of Summit Street. Fortunately the University District feels more invested in than before, less gritty, attracting more homeownership, and hosts a dense mixed-use corridor along High Street. Hopefully the neighborhood can continue to attract a more diverse demographic (non-students) and become the vibrant and diverse place it could always become. I see many parallels to the University District with Pittsburgh’s Oakland or Cincinnati’s CUF and Corryville.
Click here to view my University District album on Flickr


* Good but not great transit access. Overall convenient access to lots of jobs with OSU and Dwtn.
* Great bike infrastructure with several dedicated bike lanes and good bike station coverage. 
* Quality historic architecture, but would be even better if the bldgs didn’t take a beating as student housing.
* Great ADA and sidewalks infrastructure.
* Not much modern in-fill within the neighborhood but lots of quality urban mixed-use infill along High Street.
* Decent racial diversity thanks to OSU diverse student body.
* A high level of density thanks to students being packed into rental housing.
* Not surprisingly tons of rents here and generally at pretty modest prices.
* High Street has very good urban massing and streetscape especially with its recent extensive urban in fill.  
* Cultural amenities include a great array of ethnic restaurants, lots of college bars & cafes, several live music venues, and the OSU cultural activities.
* The University District hosts a full service target,  2 CVS, several chain retailers, lots of banks, a handful of boutiques, and a cineplex and Barnes & Nobles on its southern border. 


* Lots of students living here which greatly reduces the University district’s economic and generational diversity.
* For sale housing is mostly limited to student rental. But some SF and duplexes in good shape selling in the 200Ks & 300Ks. You certainly get a lot of house for your money here.
* Park space is limited here to the nice but modest Luka Ravine park and the ballfields behind the Indianola Middle School. But park asset is probably OSU quads and green space.
* The neighborhood is a bit rough in spots (especially in Indianola Terrace and has a fair amount of grid but by no means a dangerous place.
* The neighborhood only hosts a small privet grade-middle schools. A couple others in adjacent districts. 

Weinland Park- A Revitalizing Neighborhood in between Columbus’ Short North and Ohio State

Weinland Park mainly developed in the early 20th century as a street car suburb fueled by jobs in several factories, such as Columbus Coated Fabrics and the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company (now a large redevelopment site). Like many  inner city American neighborhoods, Weinland Park experienced decline starting in the 60s and was plagued by drug problems in the 1980s. Fortunately with its location between the Short North and OSU, reinvestment and development eventually came starting in the mid-2000s with the Gateway South Development and affordable single family construction. Now quality homes easily sell in the 300Ks and new construction is fetching prices around 1/2 Million. High street has also seen many quality urban in-fill projects replacing auto centric uses and 1 story commercial. Pretty soon the entire High Street corridor will be filled in. The once rough 5th Ave is also seeing significant mixed-use renovations and new construction.

Main urban deficiencies in Weinland Park include limited economic and generation diversity thanks to its large student population, limited park amenities, a lack of quality walkable schools, and lingering blight issues. But many other these deficiencies will be alleviated as the neighborhood continues to improve. What will become more of a lasting issue is the district’s high home sales prices.
Click here to view my Weinland Park Album on Flickr


* Good Density at around 12K residents per square mile.
* Very convenient access to Downtown via all modes of transportation.
* Great racial diversity.
* Large supply of rental housing priced modestly. Much of it is geared towards students.
* For sale market has increased drastically in the past 5 years. Right now its a healthy mix of modest homes selling in the 200s, and larger new or updated homes selling btwn 300K-500K. I can see the neighborhood gentrifying rapidly however.
* Solid but not spectacular architecture. The highlights being the historic rowhouse courts and quality SF in-fill throughout the neighborhood and mixed-use in-fill along High St, especially at South Gateway.
* Excellent current ADA infrastructure and good sidewalk infrastructure throughout.
* Much of High Streets recent parking lots and auto centric uses have been developed into quality urban infill. The Streetscape on High also received an infrastructure overhaul.
* Solid cultural amenities including a good array of restaurants, bars, breweries & cafes. Also some art galleries, a community theater, cineplex, and convenient access to OSU’s and the Short North’s cultural amenities.
* Neighborhood retail amenities include a supermarket, several drug stores, public library, post office, a Barnes & Nobles, and some retail & boutiques.


* Lots of students living here which greatly reduces Weinland Park’s economic and generational diversity.
* Weinland Park is nice providing good amenities, but limited park space outside of this. South Gateway has some nice plaza space.
* Crime and blight were major issues for Weinland Park for many years, but both have dropped precipitously in the past decade.
* Schools are pretty limited but the neighborhood does hosts Weinland Elementary, along with a private middle school and a couple small specialty schools nearby.

Harrison West, a charming village like neighborhood in Columbus, OH

Harrison West is the more sleepy versionĀ of its neighborhood Victorian Village. The district has good access to downtown, a modest commercial district with several good restaurants/bars, quality parks, good historic architecture and a great infill project called Harrison Park.
Click here to view all Harrison West photos on my Flickr Page


* Good density at over 10K per sq mile
*Great access to downtown, decent bike lanes and transit lines
* Decent late 19th century wood and brick Architecture. Harrison Park redevelopment in-fill project, is also high quality.
* Vermont Park is a great asset (Blvd. park lined with beautiful historic homes).
* Good access to park space (i.e. Harrison Park, Harrison West Park, and Wheeler Memorial Park


* Commercial District on 3rd still lacks many neighborhood services
Could be built up more.
* What remains of the historic stock is very nice but much of the neighborhood was rebuilt in the 90s with mediocre historic in-fill
* Redevelopment efforts in the southern end of the neighborhood