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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

Post-war prosperity was in full swing across the country, and Columbus was no exception. The city’s population had surged, and new neighborhoods like Clintonville and Berwick were sprouting up, filled with rows of charming Cape Cod and ranch-style houses. These homes, often boasting the latest modern conveniences, became the center of family life.

Downtown, the skyline was transforming.  The LeVeque Tower, once the tallest building in the city, was now joined by new high-rises like the Ohio Departments Building.

Main Street, USA

High Street, the heart of downtown, bustled with activity.  Streetcars clanged along the avenue, while shoppers strolled past department stores like Lazarus, F&R Lazarus, and Morehouse-Fashion.  These grand establishments offered everything from clothing and furniture to toys and appliances, attracting crowds with their elaborate window displays and exciting holiday events.

Sidewalks buzzed with people heading to work, grabbing lunch at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, or catching a movie at the Ohio Theatre.  This opulent movie palace, with its Spanish-Baroque architecture and ornate interior, was a popular destination for a glamorous night out.

Cars, Drive-Ins, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

The 1950s were the golden age of the automobile, and Columbus embraced car culture wholeheartedly.  Shiny new Chevrolets, Fords, and Oldsmobiles cruised down Broad Street, often with teenagers behind the wheel.  Drive-in restaurants like The Varsity and The Hot Shoppes became popular hangouts, offering juicy burgers, crispy fries, and thick milkshakes served car-side by friendly carhops.

And what would a 50s cruise be without the soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll?  Local radio stations like WCOL and WVKO blasted the latest hits from Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, providing the perfect backdrop for a Saturday night drive.  Teenagers gathered at record stores like The Record Rendezvous, eager to get their hands on the newest 45s.

Family Fun and Local Flavor

Weekends in 1950s Columbus were all about family time.  Parents packed up the kids and headed to the Columbus Zoo, where they marveled at the exotic animals and enjoyed picnics on the spacious grounds.  The adventurous families might even embark on a day trip to Olentangy Park, a beloved amusement park with thrilling rides, a swimming pool, and a dance hall.

For a taste of local flavor, families flocked to the North Market. This bustling marketplace offered fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods from local vendors, creating a vibrant community atmosphere.  It was a place where neighbors caught up on the latest gossip while selecting the perfect ingredients for Sunday dinner.

#1 View of 143 Gill Avenue at the corner of W. Church Street and Gill Avenue in Galion, Ohio, 1957.

View of 143 Gill Avenue at the corner of W. Church Street and Gill Avenue in Galion, Ohio, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#2 Palm trees and a home in Tampa, Florida on W Southview Avenue, August 23, 1957.

Palm trees and a home in Tampa, Florida on W Southview Avenue, August 23, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#3 3rd Street viaduct under construction along the railroad line, 1958.

3rd Street viaduct under construction along the railroad line, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#4 Nearly completed 3rd Street Viaduct from Goodale leg of Expressway, 1959.

Nearly completed 3rd Street Viaduct from Goodale leg of Expressway, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#5 End of steel construction of 3rd Street Viaduct, 1959.

End of steel construction of 3rd Street Viaduct, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#6 House at 525 Meadoway Park, circa 1955.

House at 525 Meadoway Park, circa 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#7 Aerial view of Columbus, looking east across Franklinton, the Scioto River, and downtown, circa 1950.

Aerial view of Columbus, looking east across Franklinton, the Scioto River, and downtown, circa 1950.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#8 Automobile accident at 2336 Summit Street, 1951.

Automobile accident at 2336 Summit Street, 1951.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#9 View of the 1959 flood from the northwest corner of city hall, January 1959.

View of the 1959 flood from the northwest corner of city hall, January 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#10 View of the 1959 flood from the southwest corner of City Hall, January 1959.

View of the 1959 flood from the southwest corner of City Hall, January 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#11 View of the 1959 flood from Leveque Tower, January 1959.

View of the 1959 flood from Leveque Tower, January 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#12 Views of the 1959 flood in Columbus in the Franklinton area, 1959.

Views of the 1959 flood in Columbus in the Franklinton area, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#13 Views of the 1959 flood in Columbus from 257 South Central Avenue, 1959.

Views of the 1959 flood in Columbus from 257 South Central Avenue, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#14 Aerial photograph looking east from Olentangy River Road and Goodale Boulevard, 1957.

Aerial photograph looking east from Olentangy River Road and Goodale Boulevard, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#15 Aerial view of the Ohio State Fairgrounds, looking northeast from near East 11th Avenue, early 1950s.

Aerial view of the Ohio State Fairgrounds, looking northeast from near East 11th Avenue, early 1950s.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#16 Al and Gail Shirk at the Ohio State Fair, circa 1955.

Al and Gail Shirk at the Ohio State Fair, circa 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#17 Clintonville Dutch Colonial home at 249 West Dunedin Road, 1950s

Clintonville Dutch Colonial home at 249 West Dunedin Road, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#18 B&O Railroad freight station on Naghten Street, demolished for 3rd Street viaduct, 1959.

B&O Railroad freight station on Naghten Street, demolished for 3rd Street viaduct, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#19 Canal boats and warehouses near Main Street, Jackson-Guldan Violin Company in the background, 1954.

Canal boats and warehouses near Main Street, Jackson-Guldan Violin Company in the background, 1954.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#20 Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) railroad truss bridge over the Olentangy River, looking east to downtown, September 1957.

Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) railroad truss bridge over the Olentangy River, looking east to downtown, September 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#21 Columbus Auto Parts, 1958.

Columbus Auto Parts, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#22 Columbus Club exterior, located on southeast corner of East Broad Street and South Fourth Street, building originally constructed circa 1870, bought by Columbus Club in 1887, photograph from 1955.

Columbus Club exterior, located on southeast corner of East Broad Street and South Fourth Street, building originally constructed circa 1870, bought by Columbus Club in 1887, photograph from 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#23 Columbus Dispatch headquarters, opened on this site on November 23, 1925, photograph from 1955.

Columbus Dispatch headquarters, opened on this site on November 23, 1925, photograph from 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#24 Columbus Metropolitan Library, Peter Pan welcoming children, located at 96 South Grant Avenue, 1950s

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Peter Pan welcoming children, located at 96 South Grant Avenue, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#25 Columbus Metropolitan Library Beechwold Branch, exterior and interior views, opened October 10, 1954, merged with Clintonville Branch to form Whetstone Branch on September 21, 1985, photographs from 1950s

Columbus Metropolitan Library Beechwold Branch, exterior and interior views, opened October 10, 1954, merged with Clintonville Branch to form Whetstone Branch on September 21, 1985, photographs from 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#26 Columbus Metropolitan Library bookmobiles, first entered service in 1950, bookmobile labeled “Franklin County Bookmobile” and “Operated by the Columbus Public Library,” 1950s

Columbus Metropolitan Library bookmobiles, first entered service in 1950, bookmobile labeled "Franklin County Bookmobile" and "Operated by the Columbus Public Library," 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#27 First Northside Branch Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 1951

First Northside Branch Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 1951

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#28 Photograph of the second Northside Branch Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, opened in 1958, replaced in 1975, December 17, 1958.

Photograph of the second Northside Branch Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, opened in 1958, replaced in 1975, December 17, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#29 Columbus Metropolitan Library staff photographed outside the Main Library, December 1955.

Columbus Metropolitan Library staff photographed outside the Main Library, December 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#30 Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Town and Country Branch, 1950s

Columbus Metropolitan Library's Town and Country Branch, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#31 Columbus Skyline from the Lower Scioto Greenway, featuring landmarks, 1957.

Columbus Skyline from the Lower Scioto Greenway, featuring landmarks, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#32 Black and white photograph of a barn at the Columbus Zoo, 1953.

Black and white photograph of a barn at the Columbus Zoo, 1953.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#33 Snake House at the Columbus Zoo, 1953.

Snake House at the Columbus Zoo, 1953.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#34 Construction of Expressway bridge site north of W Goodale Street, August 14, 1957.

Construction of Expressway bridge site north of W Goodale Street, August 14, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#35 Former United States Post Office and Courthouse, dedicated October 17, 1934, Circa 1955.

Former United States Post Office and Courthouse, dedicated October 17, 1934, Circa 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#36 Fisher family wholesale produce business, 1955.

Fisher family wholesale produce business, 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#37 Former Jai Lai location near Goodale leg of expressway, Columbus, 1958.

Former Jai Lai location near Goodale leg of expressway, Columbus, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#38 Franklin County Sesquicentennial Parade on West Broad Street, 1953.

Franklin County Sesquicentennial Parade on West Broad Street, 1953.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#39 Franklin County Veterans Memorial dedication, 1955

Franklin County Veterans Memorial dedication, 1955

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#40 Gibson Stewart Company, a contracting and industrial equipment firm, 1952

Gibson Stewart Company, a contracting and industrial equipment firm, 1952

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#41 Goodale Freeway (670) looking west from railroad bridge, September 8, 1959.

Goodale Freeway (670) looking west from railroad bridge, September 8, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#42 Goodale Leg of Expressway (670) from Goodale ramp looking west, September 25, 1959.

Goodale Leg of Expressway (670) from Goodale ramp looking west, September 25, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#43 Goodale leg of freeway looking east from N High Street at Poplar Avenue, May 13, 1958.

Goodale leg of freeway looking east from N High Street at Poplar Avenue, May 13, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#44 Goodale Street looking east from Michigan Avenue, featuring J.E. Scott Cup Company, November 18, 1956.

Goodale Street looking east from Michigan Avenue, featuring J.E. Scott Cup Company, November 18, 1956.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#45 Gowdy Field, former garden, athletic field, and landfill, viewed from Goodale Interchange, November 18, 1956.

Gowdy Field, former garden, athletic field, and landfill, viewed from Goodale Interchange, November 18, 1956.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#46 Three female students at Worthington High School by A. V. Shirk, circa 1955.

Three female students at Worthington High School by A. V. Shirk, circa 1955.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#47 The Armory and Gymnasium at Ohio State University, circa 1957

The Armory and Gymnasium at Ohio State University, circa 1957

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#48 H & M Thrift Shop at the corner of Mt. Vernon Avenue and North Twentieth Street, circa 1950.

H & M Thrift Shop at the corner of Mt. Vernon Avenue and North Twentieth Street, circa 1950.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#49 Intersection of N High and Poplar, featuring Hi-Goodale Recreation and other businesses, 1957.

Intersection of N High and Poplar, featuring Hi-Goodale Recreation and other businesses, 1957.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#50 Exterior Christmas display at Higbee’s Department Store in Cleveland, by Clifton James Warren, 1952.

Exterior Christmas display at Higbee's Department Store in Cleveland, by Clifton James Warren, 1952.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#51 Parade in Holland, Michigan, featuring children in Dutch costume, 1950s

Parade in Holland, Michigan, featuring children in Dutch costume, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#52 Holy Name Rally at Red Bird Stadium, 1952.

Holy Name Rally at Red Bird Stadium, 1952.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#53 Hoover Dam Construction, 1953.

Hoover Dam Construction, 1953.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#54 Horse Drawn Fruit Cart at Central Market, 1950s

Horse Drawn Fruit Cart at Central Market, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#55 Hotel Boyer, early frame hotel and boardinghouse, 1950s

Hotel Boyer, early frame hotel and boardinghouse, 1950s

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#56 Hudson Interchange, 1959.

Hudson Interchange, 1959.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#57 Hudson Underpass near Beulah Road, during Pennsylvania Railroad bridge completion, June 29, 1958.

Hudson Underpass near Beulah Road, during Pennsylvania Railroad bridge completion, June 29, 1958.

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#58 I-670 Interbelt, showing Olentangy River Rd exit, 1957

I-670 Interbelt, showing Olentangy River Rd exit, 1957

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#59 Aerial view of downtown Columbus, Ohio, looking southeast with City Hall, LeVeque-Lincoln Tower, and Departments of State Building in the foreground, 1955

Aerial view of downtown Columbus, Ohio, looking southeast with City Hall, LeVeque-Lincoln Tower, and Departments of State Building in the foreground, 1955

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#60 William McKinley Statue at the state capitol in Columbus, Ohio, 1955

William McKinley Statue at the state capitol in Columbus, Ohio, 1955

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#61 Bridge leading to downtown Columbus, Ohio, 1955

Bridge leading to downtown Columbus, Ohio, 1955

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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#62 Rt 40 (Broad St) Motel sign in Columbus, Ohio

Rt 40 (Broad St) Motel sign in Columbus, Ohio

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What Columbus looked like in the 1950s through these Fascinating Vintage Photos

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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