Welcome to Columbus!
Columbus is Ohio’s state capital and the 15th largest city in the U.S. The city has a diverse economy based on higher education, government, insurance, banking, fashion, aviation, food, art, clothing, logistics, steel, energy, medical research, health care, hospitality, retail, and technology. Columbus has a vibrant restaurant scene and you will find some of the most creative local and regional chefs in the country within steps of the Convention Center.
Travel & Leisure readers voted Columbus one of America’s 30 favorite cities in 2016. Local ice cream, Jeni’s, is one of the best ice cream spots in the U.S. according to Food & Wine. Forbes cites Columbus as one of the top 10 cities for young professionals in 2016. Yahoo! considers Columbus one of the 30 most fun places to live in the U.S.
ACPA17 believes a convention host site influences the convention experience and creates a backdrop from which we can learn, expand our narratives, and develop new truths and understanding for ourselves and to share with others. There is a history and context to be understood that stretches back before the official founding of the city of Columbus in 1812.
Prior to European colonization, Ohio was a pivotal geographical location for many indigenous tribes all across North, Central and South America. Ohio was once the largest geometric earthwork complex in the world. These numerous earthwork sites were utilized for ceremony, astrological observation, social gathering, trade and worship. A number of these earthworks can still be found within Ohio and the city of Columbus today.
In the nineteenth century, the city of Columbus was an important location on the Underground Railroad. The city had more than twenty documented Underground Railroad stations. From Columbus, those seeking freedom moved north along High Street and the Olentangy River toward Cleveland and eventually to Canada to gain their freedom. Take time to visit the Kelton House, just east of Downtown Columbus, or the King Arts Complex to learn more about Columbus’ history in the Underground Railroad.
As might be expected of a capital city, Columbus became a center of learning and social activities in the late 1800’s. A significant number of both private and public schools existed within the city. In addition, there were two colleges located in Columbus. The Ohio State University and Capital University. Two medical schools also functioned at this time. Supplementing this emphasis on education were a number of libraries containing thousands of volumes, an art school, and numerous musical societies and concerts. According to city records in the 1880s, Columbus boasted more than fifty churches and approximately six hundred saloons.
The Ohio Penitentiary was also located where Nationwide Arena sits in the Arena District and housed about 1,400 people by the late 1800s.
By the mid-nineteenth century, industry had begun to emerge in the Columbus area, growing quickly in the years following the Civil War. Columbus’ industrial development benefited from the nearby transportation systems as well as the city’s position as the state capital. There were almost two hundred factories in operation. These industries included factories manufacturing shoes, cigars, farm tools and machinery, furniture, carriages, and brooms; iron manufacturers and foundries; and brewing companies established by German migrants. The most important breweries in the city included the Schlee Brewery and the Hoster Brewery. Another major employer was the Columbus Buggy Company. Originally known as the Iron Buggy Company, by the late 1800s, this business could produce one buggy every eight minutes. It claimed to be the largest producer of buggies in the world. Columbus continued to grow and prosper. Due to lighted arches that spanned over the city’s major north-south thoroughfare, High Street, Columbus earned the reputation of being the most “brilliantly illuminated city in the country.”
The Ohio State University, which had approximately one thousand students in 1900 by 2016, had an enrollment of over 56,000 students. Numerous other colleges exist in the city including Capital University, Columbus State University, Columbus College of Art & Design, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican College and Trinity Lutheran. The city’s suburbs also boast other superb institutions of higher education including Ohio Wesleyan and Otterbein University.
Thought of at one time to be an important industrial center, Columbus has changed as the U.S. economy has changed. Nationwide Insurance, Chase Bank, The Limited, NetJets, Honda, and other multinational corporations have come to call the Columbus area home.
Columbus also has a booming cultural life. The Columbus Museum of Art, the Wexner Center, and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) are three of the city’s important art centers and museums. Zoo Director Emeritus Jack Hanna has championed the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and it is rated one of the top zoos in the country. The Columbus Blue Jackets, a member of the National Hockey League, the Columbus Crew, the city’s professional soccer team, and the Columbus Clippers professional baseball team provide residents with sport entertainment opportunities.
We hope you will take a moment to visit the many vibrant neighborhoods of the Short North Arts District, German Village, the Arena District, Olde Towne East, the Discovery District, Franklin Park and other.
*all photos courtesy of Experience Columbus
Columbus is accessible by plane, bus, and car. For information about traveling to Columbus, visit the Traveling to Columbus page.