The grand Union Station, shown above, and its ornate arcade shown above circa 1900 was the third and final train station to occupy the spot where the Columbus Convention Center now stands. Designed by celebrated architect, Daniel H. Burnham, it featured the "Grand Concourse" which housed a marble-lined waiting room with numerous service facilities.
Built in 1850, by 1891, the traffic situation on High Street reached a crisis for the nearly 55,000 pedestrians and commuters: the roadway was blocked for up to seven hours per day by over 200 crossing trains. Finally in 1893, the viaduct that we use today was built over the tracks, thus eliminating the problem.
These arches were the inspiration for the architecture on what is now called "The Cap," which houses Hyde Park Restaurant (on the west side of the street), and Mo Joe Lounge, Bar 23 and Sushi Rock on the east side.
Arch City: history repeating itself
In 1888, Columbus was known nationwide as "Arch City" when arches (shown here) illuminated the city as it celebrated the centennial of the creation of the Northwest Territory. Since Ohio had been the first state carved out of the Territory, Columbus was chosen to host the commemorative event. Knowing that 300,000 people would be descending upon the city (population 80,000), Columbus set out to make a statement by constructing a series of arches throughout downtown not only to light the streets but to dazzle the visitors.
Over the years, however, repair costs mounted and lampposts became the norm. By 1916, the arches disappeared altogether, and it would be nearly 100 years before they made their return.
Today, there are 17 high-tech arches spanning High Street, which are the architectural signature of the Short North. The 21st century twist is LED technology, which adds the excitement of evening light shows, running on the hour, after dark.
The individually programmable lights can be turned any of a million colors. The arches now provide a mile-long rainbow that has become the hallmark of the district.
When Dr. Lincoln Goodale presented it to the city in 1851, Goodale Park was nothing more than forty acres of woods. Today the park is the epicenter of the Short North’s biggest events, one of the most acclaimed green spaces in Columbus and a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Over the years, Goodale Park has served as a Civil War military camp; a classic Victorian park (complete with lake and boathouse); and at one time was even the home of a petting zoo featuring two bears, two wolves, three foxes and nineteen rabbits!
Today, there are free summer concerts in the park, and new fountain in the pond, and is the site of one of Columbus' largest festival: ComFest. Their theme, "Party with a Purpose," promotes socially responsible living, alternative politics, arts & crafts and music. The event lasts three days, and takes place in July.
The Sells Brothers Circus would become the second largest circus in America by 1890, but it started in the Spring of 1871 in downtown Columbus with a modest menagerie and a few horseback riding and sideshow acts, starring “Cannonball” George Richards.
As the circus grew in popularity, the brothers each settled into off-season homes close to Goodale Park. The most famous, built by Peter at the corner of Park and Dennison, is still known as the Sells Circus House, and can be seen today.
Winter quarters for the circus were located in Sellsville, an unincorporated area of about 1000 acres on the west bank of the Olentangy River, just north of Fifth Avenue. Stray elephants and bands of itinerant monkeys were amusing and not uncommon occurrences in Sellsville.
It wasn’t just circus trainers and performers at risk, even spectators had to beware. After real bullets substituted for blanks in the Wild West show accidentally killed 3 spectators in Iowa, the Sells Brothers avoided the state for several years.
In 1905, the circus was sold to James Bailey of Barnum and Bailey, who eventually sold shares to the Ringling Brothers. The act continued to tour under the Sells Brothers name until 1911, as part of the conglomerate Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth.