Columbus – Spring/Summer 2015 – Walking Tours

I had recently downloaded some walking tours for Columbus neighborhoods, and during my research found one for the Ohio State Campus as well.

Our tour started out at the Woody Hayes Athletic facility on West Campus. Outside the football facility is a nice statue of Woody, the model of which we had seen at Alan Cottrill’s studio in Zanesville.

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The same area contains the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, where track and soccer are played, the tennis courts, field hockey field, Buckeye Field softball stadium, Bill Davis baseball stadium, and the Schottenstein Center

After driving over to the main campus and parking in one of the garages along North High Street, we went in to check out the new Ohio Union. The student union was my normal hangout since I didn’t live on campus, and it provided somewhere to eat, sleep and study (what little I did). The old building was torn down, and the new one completed in 2010, a far cry better than the previous one. The upper level has some meeting rooms, art work, and Archie Griffin’s 1975 Heisman Trophy. The lower level has the restaurants and stores, and a bench with a statue of Brutus that you can (and I did) pose with.

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Just across 12th Avenue from the Ohio Union is the Moritz School of Law building. Outside this building are some interesting modernist sculptures, public art being a recurring theme across campus

Proceeding across the South Oval we walked past the Mirror Lake Creamery. Since it was spring break, the campus was exceptionally quiet, and many buildings, including this one, was closed. Continuing on we crossed over to the south side of the Main Oval, past Orton Hall. Again this building was closed, but provided ample opportunities for photos of the unique architecture of the exterior.

One building that was open was the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Inside was a small museum dedicated to John Glenn with memorabilia from both his days as an astronaut as well as a senator.

After crossing the Main Oval again, this time on the north side, we went into the Thompson Library, and proceeded to the top floor. The library has been greatly expanded since I was last there 30 years ago, and the top level is a beautiful open study area with smallish windows on all 4 sides offering views of Ohio Stadium, campus and south towards downtown. The new section of the library has a stunning 5 floor atrium, with a large rounded exterior window looking out towards the river.

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After spending a few minutes in the aquatic center, we crossed over to the main physical fitness building, however most of the areas were off limits to visitors. The backside of the building did provide a really cool reflection of Ohio Stadium in the building’s windows.

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The premier facility on the campus is undoubtedly Ohio Stadium. Ohio Stadium, also known as The Horseshoe, was opened in 1922 as a replacement for Ohio Field with a capacity of 66,210 . Seating capacity gradually increased over the years and reached a total of 91,470 possible spectators in 1991. In 2014, additional seating was added in the end zone, raising the official capacity to 104,944. It is the largest stadium by capacity in the state of Ohio, the fourth largest football stadium in the United States, and the fifth largest non-racing venue in the world. In addition to football and other athletics, Ohio Stadium is also a concert venue, with U2, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and others among the many acts to have played there, and also serves as the site for the university’s Spring Commencement ceremonies each May.

Ohio Stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is popularly known as “The Horseshoe” because of its shape.

Across Woody Hayes Drive from Ohio Stadium is St John’s Arena. The arena was the home of the Ohio State men’s basketball team from its completion in 1956 until 1998. The arena now houses a number of the university’s indoor athletic teams, as well as hosting concerts by popular musical artists were held at the arena from 1971 to 1980.

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Since 1932 the most popular event still held at the arena is the Skull Session, the pep rally before football games. Two hours prior to kickoff the band performs Buckeye favorites, and the players and coaches speak to the crowd.

Next door to St John’s Arena is the Ohio State Ice Rink and French Fieldhouse. The ice rink is still regularly used for practice, and some games, while the fieldhouse, which was once the football practice facility, is booked solid nearly every day.

Just beyond these facilities is the Lane Avenue Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge over the Olentangy River. The bridge was rebuilt and opened in 2003, after only sixteen months, five months ahead of schedule. The cable stayed design was chosen for aesthetic reasons, as well as having a smaller potential for environmental degradation on the river environment. The anchorages for the cables, at 47 tons are noted as being the heaviest single pieces of steel ever to be galvanized.

The views from the west side of the bridge back towards the stadium are spectacular. In addition on the northwest corner is a small park dedicated to cancer survivors.

On our return trip to the car we passed a new science building with neon lighting in the lobby that makes the shapes of molecules. The building at Ohio State never stops, as they are in the middle of a $400 million north campus dorm expansion, as well as numerous expansion on the West Campus athletic facilities.

Our final stop was back in the Ohio Union where we found another Brutus, this one dressed as Woody Hayes. This to me seemed to be an appropriate end of our extensive tour of campus.

Downtown Columbus Walking Tour

Our next walking tour was Downtown Columbus. Since I had plans to catch a baseball game in the end, we parked on the street near Huntington Park, parking along Cozzins Street.

We first walked up to the stadium and check out the pre-game preparations that were occurring on the field with the grounds crew.

From here we started back down Cozzins towards the river. The first interesting sight is a ‘ghost sign’ for Belmont Caskets, whose claim to fame is Marilyn Monroe is buried in a Belmont Casket. Apparently the factory closed down in 1980, and around 2000 the block was redeveloped with condo’s and office buildings, but retained some of the original buildings.

At the corner of Long and Neil is the Flowing Kiss, a pair of 15-foot sculptures that feature puckered lips made from billowing sheets of stainless steel on a base of black granite and white marble. To me it looks more like a pig nose and lips.

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The riverfront redevelopment was ongoing, making it impossible to take the walkways alongside. So we were relegated to a walkway along Spring Street separated from the traffic by Jersey barriers.

As we headed along the Spring Street towards downtown we passed in front of a Federal Building, which immediately brought out a security guard who informed us we weren’t supposed to be there. Which seems dumb as hell to me since we were on a sidewalk on federal government property without a fence or any notice of any kinds, but he we live in the land of the free.

This building was constructed as a U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in 1934, the Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse is located along the river in downtown Columbus and named after a late District Court Judge.

The building’s architecture is Neoclassical style, featuring cornices, three elevations, and a massive colonnade. The façade of the building is mainly composed of granite wainscot and Berea sandstone cladding. The building’s windows boast Vermont marble panels and are encased in iron grilles, lending an old world elegance.

Across the street is the Columbus Police Headquarters. This building was erected in 1929 and vacated in 1991, where it sat vacant until 2013 when it was refurbished. It is good to see a classic old building saved in Columbus, not many survive. Adorned with statues of lions it has the feel of a classic public building.

Across the street is the Columbus Fire Department Eternal Flame. At the bottom of the structure is a small plaque that reads “In Memorium — Members of the Columbus Fire Department who have answered their last alarm.” Another nearby plaque reads “This memorial donated and erected by the members of the Columbus Fire Department Nineteen Hundred Fifty Eight” with the names of the Mayor, Safety Director, and Fire Chief on it as well. From this spot you get an excellent view of the carvings at the top of the Federal Courthouse, without having to worry about security guards chasing you off.

Moving on we next came to Columbus City Hall, with the statue of Christopher Columbus. Interstingly there is another Christopher Columbus statue on the Statehouse ground. This statue was a gift from Genoa, Italy to Columbus in 1955.

City Hall sites between the Scioto River and the LeVeque Lincoln Tower, a classic building that for many years was the only true skyscraper in town. The LeVeque Tower is a 47-story Art Deco-style building located at 50 West Broad Street, It was the tallest building in Columbus from 1927 until 1974 when the Rhodes Office Tower was completed. The LeVeque Tower is 555 feet 6 inches tall, which at the time of its completion made it the tallest building between New York City and Chicago and the fifth tallest building in the world. It was meant to be built exactly one half-foot taller than the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

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The Ohio State Government office buildings along Front Street and the Scioto were built in 1933. Recently remodeled for the Ohio Supreme Court, Ohio Department of Education, Department of Labor and other departments, the plazas have fountains with a large gavel, public art and benches.

Caddy corner across Front Street from the State office buildings is the lower entrance to the downtown Lazarus store. The flagship store for a department store that opened in 1851. The Lazarus store closed in 2004 and it has since been redeveloped but I have yet to see inside.

Across the street from Lazarus was once another collection of small shops along South High Street. In 1989 a mall called Columbus City Center Mall opened to much fanfare. For about 10 years it did well, but a combination of newer malls and the ghettofication of this mall caused it’s demise. After Lazarus closed the downturn was accelerated. In 2009 the mall was demolished, and in it’s place came Columbus Commons, a park with a stage. This space has prompted development of condo’s around it, and so far has done well.

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Passing through the buildings to the east of the Ohio Theater takes you directly to the Ohio Statehouse grounds.

Construction of the Statehouse started in 1839 and didn’t complete until 1861. The Statehouse sits in the middle of Capital Square, a 10 acre park.

Unlike many U.S. state capitol buildings, the Ohio Statehouse owes little to the architecture of the United States Capitol. It was designed and built before the U.S. Capitol was enlarged to its present form, with the large white dome that would become ubiquitous on government buildings in America.

The Ohio Statehouse has been termed a supreme example of Greek Revival style. It is not patterned on one single building, but is a combination of stylistic elements from Greek sources, melded with contemporary needs and functions. The cupola shows direct influence by the Tholos of Delphi, a circular temple built about 360 BC. The Parthenon of Athens is also an influence. No ancient Greek building would have contained windows, but they were a major part of Greek Revival for a more practical reason: before electric light, sunlight was the major source of illumination.

There are a number of statues, monuments, fountains, cannons, and other pieces of public art throughout Capital Square. The views from the capital grounds have improved over the years as the collection of old buildings across High Street have been replaced by skyscrapers.

We continued our tour of downtown heading east from the capital down State Street as far as South 5th Street, returning to Broad Street. The Ohio Teachers Retirement fund building at 5th and Broad has a nice statue as a tribute to teachers. It was nicer when the original Wendy’s was there. Continuing back down Broad Street we passed by the Borden’s Building, the Chase Building, and finally back onto Capital Square’s north end.

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After a breather at a Starbucks at the political center of Ohio, Broad and High streets, we proceeded north up High Street to Nationwide Plaza, then cut over to North Market for lunch. Apparently North Market had been in the same area forever, but I don’t recall seeing it in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the early 1990s an old warehouse was renovated and the market moved in.

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It is a cross between a food court and West Side Market, leaning more to prepared food than groceries. Still it is a great atmosphere and you can usually find something to eat, even if it is a bit hipster and overpriced.

At this point we were tired and had seen enough sights for one day, so we headed over to Huntington Park to watch some baseball in the warm spring sun.

It was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon, the atmosphere was nice, and Jake the Wonder Dog was entertaining.

German Village Walking Tour

Our next Columbus neighborhood walking tour was German Village. This neighborhood was developed in the mid 1800s, and as the name suggest populated by German immigrants who worked in the nearby factories and breweries.

By the 1950s better times had passed it by. In the early 1960s a preservation movement had started. Over the next 20 years it gained momentum so much that the neighborhood had become one of the premier locations in the area, which it remains to this day.

Our tour of German Village started in Schiller Park, a 23 acre greenspace bounded by Reinhard Avenue to the north, Jaeger Street to the east, East Deshler Avenue to the south, and City Park Avenue to the west.

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It had been the area’s center for festivals and neighborhood activities since the 1800s, including the Independence Day celebration of 1830 and the Ohio State Fairs of 1864 and 1865. The park was originally named “City Park” and is ranked as the second oldest park in the city following Goodale Park. In 1891 a statue of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was dedicated to the park by the German-born residents. von Schiller was a famous German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. In 1905 the park was renamed to honor him as well. Of note in the park is the caretakers cottage, built in the 1930s as a WPA Project.

The houses facing the park on Deshler Avenue are the finest in the area, with beautiful landscaping and architecture.

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The home at 117 East Deshler is the Von Gerichten Art Glass home. The Von Gerichten’s were immigrants from German that owned a stained glass window company in both Munich and Columbus. This Queen Anne style home has a large inset stained glass panel from door from the Von Gerichten’s, in addition to decorated windows.

Another on this block, 147 East Deshler was built in 1884 by master stonemason Friedrich Wittenmeir. It was one of the first homes in Columbus to have indoor water. This home has the best landscaping in the area, with unique curving bushes that line the front of the property.

Our walk continued up Jager Street, where at the corner of Kossuth is now a Giant Eagle grocery store. On this site was the original Ohio Field, where Ohio State played it’s first football game in 1890. Around the corner from here is the famous Schmidt’s Sausage House.

In 1886 Fred Schmidt opened a meat packing business in the neighborhood. In the 1960s a grandson opened the Schmidt’s restaurant that remains today as one of the top attractions in the city, with politicians and celebrities coming.

Further up Mohawk Street is another landmark restaurant, the Old Mohawk. Known as a speakeasy during prohibition it opened as a bar immediately after. It has remained a restaurant and a bar since. In my opinion this is a better place to eat as it is not as jammed all the time, and is more of a true neighborhood restaurant.

On Sycamore Street is another art glass company, the Franklin Art Glass. It was started in part by men who had left the Von Gerichten Art Glass company. Still producing glass today at the same location it is a fixture in the neighborhood.

On Beck Street is a house known as ‘The Brothers House’, one house with two distinctive styles. The Brothers house at 316-318 E. Beck Street in German Village was originally bought by two brothers, Andrew and Thurman Debois, to build a home for both their families.

During the construction of the home both brothers got into some sort of dispute and became very angry at each other. As a result, you have a building that has two distinct styles. During the Civil War they both went off to war and they left their wives behind. The wives decided enough is enough so they broke through the common wall and built a door so that they could visit each other and be one family. After the war, the brothers came back, they still did not like each other, the bricked up the wall and that was the end of that.

Finally, hungry at this point, we stopped at Juergens German Restaurant and Bakery. Another true neighborhood classic it is ran by a little old lady with a thick German accent. After being replenished by some good German food we continued on.

As we continued we reach South 3rd Street, the main thoroughfare in the neighborhood. At the far northern end of German Village is Schwartz Castle. Legend has it that this 4 level home is haunted. Today the lower levels are office and the top level is an apartment with a commanding view of downtown Columbus.

Heading back down 3rd Street we passed the German Village Meeting House building before reaching the Book Loft, who advertises they have 32 rooms of books. While it is true that they do, each room is about 6 x 6. But still, they have a huge collection and fair prices.

After passing the original Max & Erma’s Restaurant we made our way back to our car to complete our German Village visit.