Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in Ohio. Named after Christopher Columbus, the centrally-located capital was founded at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. These two rivers were historically used as major transportation corridors, and thus, Columbus developed into an important commercial, distribution and cultural center.
As a city smack in the middle of the gateway state between the northeast and midwest, as well as in an area that’s probably best known for its abundant farmland, Columbus is often written off as a boring, run-of-the-mill city by virtue of its location, rather than personal experience. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s actually a lot to do in Columbus. Not only is the city the seat of Ohio State University, the nation’s largest campus with a student population of roughly 50,000, but Columbus is also home to Short North, a fun and vibrant arts enclave that’s been busy turning the city on its head.
A favorite part of my trip are my visits to cities undergoing a vibrant resurgence in urban life but are, at the same time, still hovering beneath the radar as top destinations. Since these cities aren’t ‘hot’ vacation sites yet, they appeal to my romantic belief that these urban changes are mostly made for the benefit of local residents, rather than attracting tourists. If you live or visit Baltimore City, on the other hand, where the tourism industry makes up a large part of the city’s revenue stream, it’s obvious how much money is poured into the Inner Harbor to attract and retain tourism–to what, I believe, can be to the detriment of local residents. This isn’t to say that spending money on tourism is bad, as cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh are eagerly trying to attract more tourism, but it’s much more enjoyable to me to walk through the streets of a city reinventing themselves for their own sake rather than mine.
So, I’ve decided to stay almost a week or so here, in downtown Columbus–sprawl in Columbus has made it so that it’s hard to see much else without a car. My visit also coincides with Columbus’ bicentennial celebration, where in conjunction with several artists, downtown Columbus will be transformed into an open-air art gallery in an event called Finding Time: Columbus Public Art 2012.