COLUMBUS, OHIO, a city, a port of entry, the capital of Ohio, U.S.A., and the county-seat of Franklin county, at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, near the geographical centre of the state, 120 m. N.E. of Cincinnati, and 138 m. S.S.W. of Cleveland. Pop. (1890) 88,150; (1900) 125,560, of whom 12,328 were foreign-born and 8201 were negroes; (1910) 181,511. Columbus is an important railway centre and is served by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis (Pennsylvania system), the Baltimore & Ohio, the Ohio Central, the Norfolk & Western, the Hocking Valley, and the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus (Pennsylvania system) railways, and by nine interurban electric lines. It occupies a land area of about 17 sq. m., the principal portion being along the east side of the Scioto in the midst of an extensive plain. High Street, the principal business thoroughfare, is 100 ft. wide, and Broad Street, on which are many of the finest residences, is 120 ft. wide, has four rows of trees, a roadway for heavy vehicles in the middle, and a driveway for carriages on either side.
The principal building is the state capitol (completed in 1857) in a square of ten acres at the intersection of High and Broad streets. It is built in the simple Doric style, of grey limestone taken from a quarry owned by the state, near the city; is 304 ft. long and 184 ft. wide, and has a rotunda 158 ft. high, on the walls of which are the original painting, by William Henry Powell (1823-1879), of O. H. Perry's victory on Lake Erie, and portraits of most of the governors of Ohio. Other prominent structures are the U.S. government and the judiciary buildings, the latter connected with the capitol by a stone terrace, the city hall, the county court house, the union station, the board of trade, the soldiers' memorial hall (with a seating capacity of about 4500), and several office buildings. The city is a favourite meeting-place for conventions. Among the state institutions in Columbus are the university (see below), the penitentiary, a state hospital for the insane, the state school for the blind, and the state institutions for the education of the deaf and dumb and for feeble-minded youth. In the capitol grounds are monuments to the memory of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William T. Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, Salmon P. Chase, and Edwin M. Stanton, and a beautiful memorial arch (with sculpture by H. A. M'Neil) to William McKinley.
The city has several parks, including the Franklin of 90 acres, the Goodale of 44 acres, and the Schiller of 24 acres, besides the Olentangy, a well-equipped amusement resort on the banks of the river from which it is named, the Indianola, another amusement resort, and the United States military post and recruiting station, which occupies 80 acres laid out like a park. The state fair grounds of 115 acres adjoin the city, and there is also a beautiful cemetery of 220 acres.
The Ohio State University (non-sectarian and co-educational), opened as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1873, and reorganized under its present name in 1878, is 3 m. north of the capitol. It includes colleges of arts, philosophy and science, of education (for teachers), of engineering, of law, of pharmacy, of agriculture and domestic science, and of veterinary medicine. It occupies a campus of 110 acres, has an adjoining farm of 325 acres, and 18 buildings devoted to instruction, 2 dormitories, and a library containing (1906) 67,709 volumes, besides excellent museums of geology, zoology, botany and archaeology and history, the last being owned jointly by the university and by the state archaeological and historical society. In 1908 the faculty numbered 175, and the students 2277. The institution owed its origin to federal land grants; it is maintained by the state, the United States, and by small fees paid by the students; tuition is free in all colleges except the college of law. The government of the university is vested in a board of trustees appointed by the governor of the state for a term of seven years. The first president of the institution (from 1873 to 1881) was the distinguished geologist, Edward Orton (1829-1899), who was professor of geology from 1873 to 1899.
Other institutions of learning are the Capital University and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary (Theological Seminary opened in 1830; college opened as an academy in 1850), with buildings just east of the city limits; Starling Ohio Medical College, a law school, a dental school and an art institute. Besides the university library, there is the Ohio state library occupying a room in the capitol and containing in 1908 126,000 volumes, including a "travelling library" of about 36,000 volumes, from which various organizations in different parts of the state may borrow books; the law library of the supreme court of Ohio, containing complete sets of English, Scottish, Irish, Canadian, United States and state reports, statutes and digests; the public school library of about 68,000 volumes, and the public library (of about 55,000), which is housed in a marble and granite building completed in 1906.
Columbus is near the Ohio coal and iron-fields, and has an extensive trade in coal, but its largest industrial interests are in manufactures, among which the more important are foundry and machine-shop products (1905 value, $6,259,579); boots and shoes (1905 value, $5,425,087, being more than one-sixtieth of the total product value of the boot and shoe industry in the United States, and being an increase from $359,000 in 1890); patent medicines and compounds (1905 value, $3,214,096); carriages and wagons (1905 value, $2,197,960); malt liquors (1905 value, $2,133,955); iron and steel; regalia and society emblems; steam-railway cars, construction and repairing; and oleo-margarine. In 1905 the city's factory products were valued at $40,435,531, an increase of 16.4% in five years. Immediately outside the city limits in 1905 were various large and important manufactories, including railway shops, foundries, slaughter-houses, ice factories and brick-yards. In Columbus there is a large market for imported horses. Several large quarries also are adjacent to the city.
The waterworks are owned by the municipality. In 1904-1905 the city built on the Scioto river a concrete storage dam, having a capacity of 5,000,000,000 gallons, and in 1908 it completed the construction of enormous works for filtering and softening the water-supply, and of works for purifying the flow of sewage - the two costing nearly $5,000,000. The filtering works include 6 lime saturators, 2 mixing or softening tanks, 6 settling basins, 10 mechanical filters and 2 clear-water reservoirs. A large municipal electric-lighting plant was completed in 1908.
The first permanent settlement within the present limits of the city was established in 1797 on the west bank of the Scioto, was named Franklinton, and in 1803 was made the county-seat. In 1810 four citizens of Franklinton formed an association to secure the location of the capital on the higher ground of the east bank; in 1812 they were successful and the place was laid out while still a forest. Four years later, when the legislature held its first session here, the settlement was incorporated as the Borough of Columbus. In 1824 the county-seat was removed here from Franklinton; in 1831 the Columbus branch of the Ohio Canal was completed; in 1834 the borough was made a city; by the close of the same decade the National Road extending from Wheeling to Indianapolis and passing through Columbus was completed; in 1871 most of Franklinton, which was never incorporated, was annexed, and several other annexations followed.
See J. H. Studer, Columbus, Ohio; its History and Resources (Columbus, 1873); A. E. Lee, History of the City of Columbus, Ohio (New York, 1892).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)