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2011 Year in Review: Month by Month

Walker Evans Walker Evans 2011 Year in Review: Month by Month
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The end of the year always serves as a great time for reflection, and as we look back on 2011 we’ve come to realize that it was a much bigger year in retrospect than any given day or week would have individually led us to believe. This year saw many important people coming and going, exciting tangible energy surrounding neighborhoods like Weinland Park and Franklinton, and some of the most amazing and well attended events throughout the year. Furthermore, we were witness to the growing presence of Columbus in the national spotlight as our individual characteristics were highlighted in prominent print and web publications all year long.

Taking the time to look back through the website analytics for Columbus Underground give us the ability to measure which stories, interviews and conversations were the most well read, the most buzzworthy and the most sought out for discussion. We’ve rounded up those stories below with the most prominent topics sorted out by each month of the year.


Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man with the “Golden Voice” was discovered by Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth, which went viral thanks to the power of YouTube. A crackdown on graffiti sparked another round of heated discussion on the topic. Hubbard Grill, the long-awaited replacement for Rosendale’s opened in January. Ohio’s new governor John Kasich was sworn into office. The Jury Room opened their doors, sparking a lot of interest in the latest Downtown Liz Lessner restaurant. And a review of the new Wedgewood Pizza turned a lot of heads with their Youngstown-style pie.


There was a lot of attention given to the opening of Big Woody’s, a new bar near the Arena District, but it didn’t last long, as the bar closed after three months. The discussion about SB5 picked up around the discussion of public employee compensation. A trio of national articles highlighted Columbus and the Midwest for various economic traits, which would lead a very prominent year of national headlines about our city. Nasty ice storms hit Central Ohio in February, providing locals with stories to tell their grandkids someday. 400 West Rich Street was officially announced, which would go one to become one of the more exiting art studio developments of the year. Chef Alana Shock gave us a peek into her home kitchen for a chance to see where the magic happens.


Fleur, the Downtown Champagne & Dessert bar, opened their doors in March and went on to be one of the most widely discussed nightlife venues throughout all of 2011. Local kid entrepreneur Hart Man went viral in March with his ManCans product. Dunkin Donuts got themselves evicted from their Broad & High store, proving that independent stores fare better Downtown than chains. Construction cranes bloomed alongside flowers, as evidenced by our popular photo roundup of March construction projects. Bob Evans broke the news that the company would be relocating their headquarters from the South Side of Columbus to New Albany with the help of millions of dollars in incentives. News also broke in March of the scandal within OSU’s football program that would lead to the resignation of Head Coach Jim Tressel.


Food trucks and food carts sprouted up in April for what would become a strong summer season, and our spring preview was a very widely read mobile food navigation guide. Farmers Markets also started to bloom in the Spring, and our market guide published in April was another one of the most widely re-read features all season long. Everyone loves Clintonville… which was evidenced by how widely read this month’s edition of At Home became. Charlie Sheen mania was in full swing when he brought his special brand of crazy to Columbus for a night at the Palace Theatre. Everyone loves a good April Fools Day joke, and we always kick off the month with a whole slew of them. Our best joke story this year involved a new High-Speed Highway proposed by Governor Kasich to make up for his cancellation of the 3C Rail Corridor. Speaking of Kasich, he announced in April that Ohio needs to be cooler, and hopefully we’ve managed to achieve that by the end of the year.


May signals the beginning of Festival Season, and our annual Festival Guide once again proved to be one of the most well read articles of the year. Our May At Home column gave you a glimpse into the tight quarters of life inside an airstream trailer (which unfortunately fell victim to wind storm damage later in the year). There was much ado about Hustler when it was announced in May that they’d be opening a store in Clintonville. On the other end of the Clintonville spectrum, the not-yet-open City Beet Cafe gained wide community support when they rallied for help to get their business through zoning committees. The long-awaited opening of Columbus Commons rounded out the end of the month over Memorial Day Weekend.


Love it or hate it, Comfest is one of the biggest attractions for summer entertainment and once again it had big buzz in June. The At Home series had another very popular installment in June with a showcase on a renovated home in Italian Village. While Yuengling wouldn’t be available in Ohio until October, the news broke in June, which quickly spread throughout the state to many excited beer drinkers. German Village got wind of Harvest Pizzeria, a new restaurant that opened this summer and became big news. The Long Street District re-opened this summer, providing new nightlife options Downtown. Outdoor movies proved to be a popular trend this summer, as our Outdoor Movie Guide became one of our popular summer articles.


The beer-bike hybrid vehicle known as Cycle Tavern was buzzworthy throughout the month of July as people caught glimpses of this head-turning contraption moving up and down High Street. Wonderland was back in the news when the announcement leaked that the project would be relocating away from the old Wonder Bread building. A new Hawaiian BBQ restaurant opened on 5th Avenue in July, and our new restaurant review series kicked off with a popular feature on this new place. The new Scioto Mile opened to a lot of fanfare, and our two part photo series was highly viewed by everyone who couldn’t make it to the grand opening in person. Speaking of Downtown, the new MoJoe Lounge opened their doors at Columbus Commons in July to excited customers. The new Short North / Weinland Park Kroger also opened this month after years of anticipation.


One of biggest stories of the year was the Food Cart Festival, which was highly anticipated both on our messageboard and through a preview article, and in the end attracted around 12,000 people to attend. The new Born Brewing Company was announced in August, which will open in 2012. Ibiza was in the news in August when a glimmer of hope emerged when new owners were announced to take over and salvage the dead project with something new. Another popular At Home article was showcased in August with this cool Victorian Village condo. Downtown business owners squared off against The Columbus Department of Public Service in a very heated battle about overzealous code enforcement behavior. The construction schedule was also announced in August for the Downtown interstate project that will plague drivers over the course of the next 15 years.


The Dispatch Group announced in September that they were purchasing the assets of CM Media, which includes The Other Paper, Columbus Monthly and SNP. Independents Day returned for the fourth year of this Gay Street festival. We took a virtual trip to Cleveland thanks to Angie Schmitt, which proved to be a very popular article. Nationwide announced the construction of a new Downtown office building to house 1,000 relocated employees. President Obama made a visit to Columbus in September. Columbus lost one of its favorite sons with the passing of Don Ruben in September, who was also a semi-regular commenter and contributor on Columbus Underground.


There was much rejoicing in October with the announcement of the opening of World of Beer, a new hotspot in the evolving Brewery District. Highball Halloween returned for a fourth installment, which was widely discussed and highly attended despite the chilly weather. More rejoicing came in October with the announcement that The Hills Market will be opening a new Downtown grocery store in 2012. Buzz swirled around the status of CD101/CD102.5 as speculation about being bought out spread throughout the city. Elizabeth Lessner turned heads once again when she announced that a Downtown Tiki Bar concept was in the works for 2012. Another staple item in October is haunted houses, and our guide for those was also another well read item for the month.


Rave Motion Pictures opened a new 14-screen theater in Grove City in November, which became one of our most popular stories of the month primarily due to search engine traffic. We compiled a list of 12 New Apartment Developments in Columbus, which was also very well read. Waffle House announced plans for a new urban-style store adjacent to OSU, which sent readers into a scramble (and a smother, and a cover). Pop-up suit shop Pursuit made a big splash with the news of their opening. We finally received some details on the new curbside recycling program in November, which is scheduled to roll out city-wide in 2012. There was also a lot of heated discussion about the new bike shelter program, while the first bike structure was installed this month.


New Asian eatery Fresh 50 got a lot of attention in December as they took over the former Downtown Spinelli’s Deli location. Food Hop, a new food tourism business officially launched this month to a lot of buzz. Yet another 2012 brewery was welcomed into the scene with the announcement of Zauber Brewing Company. Franklinton made a few more waves during the 11th hour of 2011 when another public input meeting was held to help shape the development plan for the eastern portion of the neighborhood. The 5xNW edition of our Be My Neighbor series proved to be one of the most popular installations to date. And finally, the preview for the first annual Grand Illumination Festival was well read and hyped up for a holiday kickoff event.

So there you have it. Certainly not an all-inclusive list of stories and discussions, but a fairly well rounded look into the most popular topics of 2011.

What other topics did you enjoy most in 2011? What topics do you think will be host in 2012? Let us know in the comments section below.

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