German Village

When I find myself needing a break from the daily grind, German Village offers the perfect local escape. One can lose themselves in the serenity of the brick-paved streets, and perhaps even lose themselves in time :)

In the 1830's, German immigrants began moving into the neighborhood just south of downtown Columbus, and by 1865 1/3 of the city's population was German. The area began to decline during the early 20th century, due to anti-German sentiment during World War I. Interestingly, due to this sentiment, many streets were renamed. Germania Street became the present-day Stewart Ave., and Schiller Park became Washington Park. German language textbooks were banned, and the schools that the German immigrants had produced began to decline. These schools were once so superior in quality that English speaking residents of Columbus chose to attend them.

Once home to 29 breweries, the further decline of German Village was escalated by Prohibition. By the 1950's, the area had become a slum, and 1/3 of the neighborhood was demolished by the city. The 1960's and 1970's brought a renewal effort by the newly established German Village Society (Source: www.germanvillage.com, via Wikipedia). Akin to Victorian Village, I am grateful to the efforts of the city's residents who dedicated themselves to the preservation of a piece of Columbus history.

What is truly to be appreciated about historic neighborhoods in Columbus is their unique character and local flavor. Something you will never get in cookie cutter suburbs. My favorite place to visit in German Village is the Book Loft. 32 rooms of books!

As a librarian, I rarely buy books, but when I do I'd much rather give my money to a local business. Last year, a book whose release I was eargerly anticipating warranted a trip to The Book Loft to make my own quite "event" of it. It was such a beautiful warm day in May, my newly purchased book just had to be read outside with a coffee from Cup o Joe next door. It may not sound like much, but the beauty and character of German Village helped me to create this quite little memory of happiness for me. You gotta find those little moments in life, it's all about the little things :)


Winter in the City

I've been waiting for a snowy day like today to go out and take some pictures for this blog. I'd love some snowy pictures of gorgeous German Village for a future post. Alas, I'm coping with a cold, so walking around in the snow wasn't a wise decision if I am to be a peppy children's librarian tomorrow. I'll have to make do with the snapshot outside my home.

I want this blog to encompass more than just history. This hometown tourist took a break last week from solo walking to joining a couple hundred of comrades for an evening of seasonal cheer. Studio 35 offers a monthly beer tasting coupled with a movie. In October, I enjoyed a tasting of Southern Tier Beer and a viewing of Shaun of The Dead, the best zombie movie ever. Last week, A Christmas Story combined with a sampling of Winter/Christmas Ales set the stage for a perfect evening. I'm a lightweight, so these evenings usually involve an early 8pm hangover. Standouts of the sampling included the Weyerbacher Winter Ale, and the Petrus Winter. Winter Ales are my absolute favorite, so combine that with friends, pizza, cupcakes, and a theater full of people cheering on Ralphie in unison-it can't get much better than that. As the snow blankets the city, be sure to warm up with a cold Winter Ale this holiday season!

Just don't shoot your eye out!


High Street history, it's all in the details

Sometimes you have to look hard to find those little details that clue you into the past around you. I wonder how many people have noticed this Caduceus hidden under an awning at the building on the corner of Buttles and High (717 N. High St)? Was this building originally a medical practice, a pharmacy, or (a much cooler word) apothecary? Stonework like this you'll never find in modern builds. It's details like this that fuel my love for historic buildings, knowing that this type of detailing just doesn't happen any more.

Finding cool little details like this can be quite the treasure hunt. A landlord/business owner has my undying support if they choose to preserve historical tin ceilings. This ceiling is beautifully preserved in the National Jean Company store:

A bar or restaurant could not have a cozier ambiance if not for original wood work and tin ceilings. This is the ceiling at Marcella's, which I quickly snapped and then walked out without meeting the disapproving stares of the staff:

Visitors to the Short North today are awarded with a humming cultural hub of shops, restaurants, art galleries and night life. Gentrification has saved this neighborhood from it's seedier past. The suburban flight of the 1960's and 1970's left this historic in disrepair, overridden with crime. I still won't walk through Goodale Park at night by myself now, but I can imagine that 20 years ago to do so you would be risking your life. My parents moved into the neighborhood in the early 80's, when housing prices were cheap and the neighborhood was in the early stages of it's 20-year revitalization. My father's carpentry skills personally contributed to the renovation of many houses in the neighborhood, but that's another post :)

The art galleries were what saved the Short North. In the early 80's, local Art Galleries created the Gallery Hop to bring customers into the neighborhood who wouldn't normally set foot in a neighborhood overrun by drugs and prostitution. For over 25 years, the first Saturday of each month the art galleries continue to keep their doors open for hundreds of visitors. An evening at the hop will treat you to a plethora of people watching, art viewing, yummy food, and maybe even some street musicians and break-dancers.

For the last 3 years, an awesome event has come to the Short North in October. The Highball Halloween party closes down several blocks on High St., creating the best street party in Columbus.

I can't talk about the Short North without mentioning the arches. Today's arches were built in 2002 the replicate the wooden arches built in 1888 to illuminate the street and late provided the electricity for streetcars. This photo is from my college days when I fancied myself quite the artistic photographer.

This photo below is from the early 1900's. How amazing that this image is timeless, only the absence of cars clues you into the time period:

As to not commit any further copyright violation, this link is a great resource for photographs of historical Columbus.

The Short North's official website offers further information on walking tours here.

The Short North has plenty of delightful places to stop and re-fuel for your walking tour, including MoJoe lounge. Located in the "Cap", I've only recently been able to enter this collection of shops and restaurnts without the overwhelming fear of the bridge collapsing underneath me onto the freeway below.

The cap is an ingeniously designed strip of buildings on highway overpass, providing a functional and aesthetically pleasing connection between the Short North and downtown. Built in 2002, it's design is reminiscent of Union Station, a railway station from 1897 (the land currently occupied by the convention center). The main arch from the original station was thankfully preserved, and is now a few blocks away in the Arena District (photo featured in this blog's header).

They don't make 'em like this anymore, do they?

When entertaining out-of-town guests, bringing them to the Short North is sure to impress upon them how fun and cosmopolitan our little city in the heartland can be. As for you residents, a self-guided walking tour can offer a free afternoon's worth of entertainment. When you stop for a beer or cup of coffee (which I highly recommend rather than rudely darting in and out of establishments taking photos like I've been doing recently), stop for a moment and look up and around you, and you might spot some little treasures of the past.


Following-up on my last post, I found another photograph circa 1984 of the old playground equipment in Goodale Park. Being the youngest, I was quite the brat. With that precedence, I'm glad my parents chose instead to document history rather than comfort my 2-year old self, whom I'm sure was crying for no good reason :)


First Entry: Goodale Park

Ok, so here's my first real blog entry. I'm new to this, so please bear with me! I decided to start with Goodale Park, since it is central to the Short North community and my own personal history. Growing up, Goodale Park was only a few block away. The above picture is me hanging from the monkey bars with two of my preschool classmates circa 1988 (I'm the one in the middle with the charming facial expression and velcro shoes). The playground has since been replaced with less splinter-inducing equipment.

Close to the playground, there was a spraying-water fountains that we would run through in the summer. Long gone, I searched for a photo of the fountains but couldn't find one anywhere. Lucky for us, I have an incredibly accurate artistic rendering by my 5-year old self:

Columbus' first park has a long and interesting history, which you can find here: http://friendsofgoodalepark.org. Apparently the park used to have stables, a large lake, a boathouse, and even a menagerie with BEARS. I'm glad that there are still some historic gems to be found in the park. Starting with the shelter house, built in 1912:

I swear I've heard this referred to as the "caretaker's cottage", which means that the park's caretaker used to live here onsite. Walking through the park today, I was surprised to find this new gate at the south entrance:

I was a little freaked out that they had torn down the old gate, until I found this a few yards over:

This is what it used to look like, I hope the reason half of it is missing now is because it's being restored(photo from http://friendsofgoodalepark.org):

One of the few remaining historic structures in the park is the pagoda on the Northwest entrance:

I always found the carved faces scary. After some research today I found out that the carvings depict the seven ages of man from Shakespeare's play "As You Like It". Nothing like being reminded of your own mortality on a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park :) Below is a photograph from 1899 of the pagoda. What I love about Victorian village is that you can close your eyes and imagine the modern cars and sidewalks replaced with the original dirt streets and horse-drawn carriages-to imagine what life was like back then (photo from http://www.friendsofgoodalepark.org).

Close to the pagoda, on the other side of the street is one of the best houses in Columbus. The Circus house, or Sells Mansion, built in 1895 by the owner of the Sell's Brothers Circus (later sold to the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey). The circus big top inspired house and matching carriage house always get an appreciative glance from me as I walk by:

This weekend I was surprised to find that the park pond was undergoing renovations:

In lieu of a photograph of the pond pre-renovation, I'll share another historically accurate artistic rendering by my 5-year old self from the pages of my preschool scrapbook:

Goodale Park will always be a special place to me, and I love that I've been there for so many different stages of my life. From hanging from the monkey bars in velcro shoes to hanging out with an extra-large beer listening to live music at Comfest. I just hope that I won't be the only summer festival reveler who stops to take a moment and appreciate the history around us.


Well, hello there

It all started with a walk to the North Market for lunch on a beautiful 70 degree day in November. Inspired by the weather, my personal soundtrack due to a spiffy new iPod and an unfortunate amount of recent free time, I kept walking. Leaving the Short North, I walked down Front St. into downtown, snapping pictures of the unique detailing and stonework that I love about old buildings. I made it to the riverfront and the Santa Maria before returning through the Arena District back home to Victorian Village.

After spying some visitors that appeared to be from France, I decided to have some fun and pretend to be a tourist in Columbus as well. I've been a tourist in three different countries (four if you count Canada!), and have marveled at both the big attractions and everyday sights I've encountered. In 2004 I took my first trip abroad with two girlfriends, to Italy. Back then, I
actually lugged about 10 disposal cameras (!) with me, lugged them back and had them printed. Now that I've officially moved into the 21st century with a camera-enabled iPod (my new best friend), I love being able to take photos with abandon and instantly share them with friends. When traveling, it has always been the everyday street scenes and random architectural details that I was most drawn to photographing (that and the fact that people get mad when strangers take their picture). During my walk in Columbus today, filled with nostalgia, I realized that my home city has a lot to offer as well. I was surprised to find that I took almost 90 photos, all of things that I find interesting in a 2 mile radius from my home. There's a chance others might as well.

So, inspired by my blogging friend Cheryl, the great idea came to start a blog to share these walking tours of my Columbus. I'm proud of my hometown, and I can't wait to start sharing both my memories and my current experiences of Cbus. I have many ideas brewing, so stay tuned!