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Columbus was once known as ‘Arch City’

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Columbus was once known as ‘Arch City’

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Much has been made recently about what Columbus should do to make it a truly superlative place. Some of us, of course, do not think Columbus is all that bad as it is. But it is also fair to say that even the good can always be made a bit better.

More than a few people in the recent past have argued that Columbus needs an “image” all its own. When I think of San Francisco, I think of the Golden Gate Bridge. When I think of New York, the Statue of Liberty comes to mind.

In Ohio, some of these images are rather intriguing. Cleveland is the Forest City, although one has to look rather hard to find too many trees in the middle of downtown. Cincinnati is the Queen City, although it is not fully clear what nearby place constitutes the King City. And, of course, Columbus is the Capital City.

But as a state capital, Columbus is at once both the center of state power and authority as well as a city in its own right. And it as that city, that urban place, that Columbus might develop an image all its own — an image that consists of more than the Statehouse.

Interestingly, Columbus once had such an image. For more than a quarter of a century, Columbus was known throughout the Midwest and much of America as the Arch City.

By the turn of the 20th Century, the major streets of downtown Columbus were marked with large metal arches. Illuminated at night, the arches complemented the lights of nearby stores and of the lighted streetcars that ran beneath them.

How Columbus came to be a city of arches is an interesting story.


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  • gold42

    Awesome article. I love learning about the local history! Long live the Arch City!

  • Roland

    Very cool story!

    I cant wait to see them light up again.

  • Anne

    Me either! It will be looking great!!!

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