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How Grove City went from thoroughbred and greyhound racing to quintessential suburb

Grove City Series Part 2

July 23, 2019

In this series, get to know the southwest Columbus suburb of Grove City. In four segments, we’ll introduce you to the series and then cover the city’s history, fun activities and dining and drinking options. We hope you enjoy this series and are able to check out Grove City in person.

Thoroughbreds head for the homestretch at Grove City’s Beulah Park in 1926. Source: Columbus This Week, courtesy Columbus Metropolitan Library

Did you know that Grove City’s population used to swell—to double or even triple its size—on days when spectators would gather for thoroughbred and greyhound races?

That’s right, Grove City actually first evolved from a quiet farming community to an entertainment hub before becoming the quintessential American suburb it is today.

Early Days

Few people had settled in the area when, in 1847, Grove City founder William F. Breck bought farmland and saw potential for a school, church, stores and more. In 1853, the newly formed village had 50 residents and would be named Grove City for the remaining groves of trees left after the initial clearing process.

Through the remainder of the 19th century, a variety of passenger trains served the area, including to and from Columbus. For a brief time, one commuter train provided transportation for Grove City residents who worked at the Columbus Buggy Works, then the world’s largest buggy manufacturer.

And then in 1923, the opening of Beulah Park, the state’s first thoroughbred racetrack, put Grove City on the map as an entertainment destination. Soon after, there was a separate greyhound racetrack, as well as a theater, dance hall and restaurants. The Southwest Franklin County Historical Society describes it this way:

“It was not unusual for the population of Grove City to double and sometimes triple in size with race fans attending afternoon racing at Beulah Park and night races at the Greyhound track. Residents turned their yards into parking lots especially along Grant Avenue. The closer the main Grant Avenue entrance, the higher the fee to park. Gasoline stations in Grove City could identify winners and losers by the amount of fuel purchased. Losers would often purchase as little as 25–50 cents worth of gas, just enough to get home.”

Another major addition came in the 1960s, when Interstates 71 and 270 were built, positioning Grove City at the intersection of two major highways and priming the community for explosive growth.

Modern Suburb

The race tracks that once defined Grove City are gone, but their legacy lives on. Grove City High School’s nickname, Greyhounds, still today pays homage to that piece of history, 87 years after Greyhound racing shut down in 1932. Beulah Park closed in 2014 and finally is being transformed into a massive $300 million district of housing, retail and offices.

Grove City is as vibrant as ever, now a diverse community of more than 42,000 residents, 1,200 businesses and 21 parks on 360 acres. Residents enjoy all the conveniences of metropolitan living with the affordability and comforts that only a suburban neighborhood can provide, plus convenient access to I-270, I-71, US 62 and SR-665.

New development continues to take place and enhance the neighborhood. Next to the Grove City municipal offices is Broadway Station, an amenity-laden community where residents are empowered to save for homeownership and other important goals using Rhove. And Grove City’s new $361 million Mount Carmel hospital opened in April.

Grove City continues evolving, as it did over the past 160-plus years, and today offers something for everyone. Learn more about its history at the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, and stop by to see what the community is all about!

For those interested in calling Grove City home, we encourage you to tour Rhove’s partner property, Broadway Station, where you can save for homeownership or whatever matters most. If you are looking for an apartment, we encourage you to check out all of the properties offering Rhove, where you can make money on rent.