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The Surprising History of the Short North

Short North Series Part 5

July 28, 2019

In this series, join us as we explore Columbus’ most vibrant neighborhood, the Short North. In five segments, we’ll introduce you to the series and then detail the neighborhood’s surprising history, world-class arts and culture scene, stellar lineup of events, and unparalleled dining and drinking options. Thanks for checking out our Short North Series.

It may be hard to imagine, but the Short North Arts District wasn’t always the vibrant district of restaurants, shops and galleries that we know and love today. The neighborhood has a rich history that includes being the site of the city’s first train depot and the reason behind Columbus’ nickname, Arch City.

Early days

Shortly after Columbus got its first rail service in 1850, the Union Station train depot was built in the area of today’s Short North. It created a boom for businesses along High Street and brought teachers and students to the newly formed Ohio State University, according to WOSU, but the station was built so close to High Street that it caused congestion and crossing accidents. It’s not the only marked difference in transportation from today’s Short North. From 1863 until 1948, streetcars — first horse-drawn then electric — ran through the area and throughout Columbus.

Around the same time, a longer lasting improvement was made to the area as Dr. Lincoln Goodale donated land to be preserved as Columbus’ first city park. Long before it became the popular spot for jogging, dog walking and sun bathing, Goodale Park was overtaken as the campgrounds for 7,000 volunteer soldiers gathered during the Civil War in 1861, according to WOSU.

In the 1960s, the district was disrupted by construction of the Goodale Expressway and later Interstate 670. Soon after, it fell into disrepair and was dubbed the Short North by local police — who were called there often — because of its location north of downtown and short of Ohio State University.


In 1984, gallery owners began collectively debuting new exhibits on the first Saturday of each month, helping to attract visitors and new businesses and laying the groundwork for Gallery Hop, according to the Short North Alliance.

In another big step toward revival, the Short North Special Improvement District (SID) was established in 1999 to improve the safety, cleanliness and beauty of the neighborhood. Most notably, the SID reinstalled lighted arches along High Street, from Goodale Street to Fifth Avenue, paying homage to those that stood from 1888 to 1916 and earned Columbus’ nickname, “Arch City.”

Present Day

Today, the Short North is the most vibrant area of Columbus and earns national attention as an arts and culture destination. According to the Short North Alliance, it is home to more than 300 businesses, many of which are locally owned.

Recent infrastructure investments have improved the aesthetic and made for a safer and more walkable High Street corridor. The undergrounding of overhead utilities and the decluttering of sidewalks better accommodates pedestrians and has created spaces for public art, landscaping and street lights.

Real estate developers also have invested heavily, building a number of more modern buildings that make the district even more vibrant. One of our partners, Borror, has been particularly active in supporting the vibrancy of the neighborhood, building apartment communities to service the large influx of young professionals and residents in the neighborhood.

This increasing density in the Short North has prompted investment elsewhere, lifting not only Columbus’ real estate market but the community as a whole. The history is rich and the future is bright, so check out the Short North and see why it’s regarded as such a great place to live, work, and play.

For those interested in calling the neighborhood home, we encourage you to tour one of the properties offering Rhove, where you can make money on rent.