The Short North neighborhood in Columbus, OH is a well-known, popular neighborhood centered on the main strip of High Street immediately north of downtown and extending just south of the Ohio State University campus area. It is a highly walkable community filled with restaurants, pubs, shops, art galleries, coffee houses and nightlife.
The name “Short North” traces its roots back to the vernacular used by police for the area during a period of decline, namely as the neighborhood that–from a suburban commuter’s perspective–had fallen ‘just short’ of the central business district’s north end–both physically and economically. A reputation for diversity and an artistic, Bohemian atmosphere has marked the Short North now and the 1980s saw the neighborhood’s rebirth enter into full gear as galleries began to open up and started to flourish.
Short North Today
The Short North is often crowded on weekends, particularly during the monthly “Gallery Hop” and other local and downtown events. Most of the Short North’s tightly packed brick buildings date from at least the early 20th century, with traditional storefronts along High Street (often with brightly painted murals on their side walls), and old apartment buildings and rowhouses and newer condominium developments in the surrounding blocks. The city installed 17 lighted metal archways extending across High Street throughout the Short North, reminiscent of such arches present in the area in the early 1900s.
The Short North is also known to be a very LBG friendly neighborhood and many gay nightclubs and bars are located here, it is also the location of the annual Columbus gay pride parade. Additional local events include the Doo Dah Parade, a parody of typical Fourth of July parades, the HighBall Halloween Masquerade on High, a fashion show and street parade.
In 1888, Columbus was known nationwide as “Arch City” when arches 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 and crafts and music. The event lasts three days, and takes place in July.
Click here for the story of The Short North, a video highlighting one of the city’s most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods.
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