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What Columbus looked like in the 1990s Captured in Stunning Photos

The 1990s were a period of significant growth and transformation for Columbus, Ohio. This decade saw the city solidify its place as a key economic and cultural hub in the Midwest. Let’s explore the journey of Columbus through the 90s, from its booming economy to its vibrant cultural scene, and how these elements interplayed to shape the city’s identity.

Economic Prosperity and Expansion

The 90s kicked off with Columbus riding the wave of economic prosperity that had begun in the previous decade. The city continued to diversify its economy, moving beyond traditional manufacturing to embrace technology, education, and healthcare sectors. This diversification helped Columbus weather the early 90s recession better than many other cities. The presence of major corporations, along with the growth of The Ohio State University (OSU) and a burgeoning tech industry, fueled job creation and attracted a skilled workforce from across the country.

Urban Development and Neighborhood Revitalization

This decade was also marked by significant urban development efforts. The city focused on revitalizing its downtown area, with the aim of making Columbus a more attractive place to live, work, and visit. The Arena District emerged from the ashes of old, unused rail yards, transforming into a bustling entertainment and sports hub. Neighborhoods like the Short North continued their ascent as cultural and nightlife destinations, thanks in part to investment in arts and small businesses. Efforts to improve public transportation, affordable housing, and environmental sustainability gained momentum.

The Cultural Flourish

Columbus’s cultural landscape blossomed in the 1990s. The arts scene thrived, supported by both public and private investments. Columbus also became known for its music scene, producing bands and artists that received national attention. Moreover, the city’s sports teams, including OSU’s football team and the arrival of the Columbus Crew SC as one of the original teams in Major League Soccer, brought together fans and fostered a strong sense of community pride.

#1 Home of Ohio Supreme Court Justice James E. Robinson in Upper Arlington, 1998.

#2 Aerial view of East Broad Street, featuring the Franklin County Memorial Hall, November 23, 1999.

#3 Aerial view of the downtown Columbus riverfront, with COSI under construction, 1998 or 1999.

#4 Aerial view of the downtown Columbus riverfront during COSI construction, 1998 or 1999.

#5 Aerial view looking north along High Street from Fulton Street, featuring prominent buildings, May 29, 1999.

#6 BalletMet’s Dance Centre, formerly F. O. Schoedinger Company building, purchased in December 2005, April 3, 1997.

#7 Benjamin N. Huntington House, built circa 1875, Huntington moved to Columbus in 1854, engaged in charity work, 1990s

#8 Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation building, 1990.

#9 Street musicians on North High Street at Russell Street, entertaining pedestrians during a Gallery Hop Saturday, 1993.

#10 Exterior of the Callander Cleaning Company building, 1990s

#11 Clintonville Pepsi-Cola sign, originally displaying the 1950s Pepsi-Cola logo, building housed pizza parlors for 30 years, 1990s

#12 Brioso Roastery and Coffee Bar sign at 333 E. Long, spotted by John Sauer, 1990s

#13 Bower & Co. general store advertisement, North High Street between West Dodridge and Ramlow Alley, 1990s

#14 Bricker and Eckler building, Old Post Office Building, law firm moved in after 1986 restoration, Circa 1997.

#15 Columbia Building, also known as The Bott Building, The Clock Restaurant, or The Larrimer Building, 1990.

#16 Columbus Metropolitan Library Hilltop Branch, photo after 1981 renovation, served Hilltop area since 1928, branch originally opened March 14, 1950, Circa 1993.

#17 Columbus Metropolitan Library Medical Dental Collection, 1990s

#18 North view of the Columbus Museum of Art with 1974 addition, May 8, 1997.

#19 Southeast view of the Columbus downtown skyline, featuring Rhodes State Office Tower, 1997.

#20 Columbus Southern Power Company building, a pioneering office with central air conditioning, 1990.

#21 Columbus State Hospital, operational from 1870 to 1997.

#22 Downtown Columbus from East Main and South Pearl Alley, 1992.

#23 Drum Major David Breese and Capital City Pipes and Drums in parade, Columbus, 1990s

#24 East side of North High Street between Gay and Long Streets, 1999.

#25 East side of North High Street, north of Brickel Street, with Russian Tea Room and Putt’n On the Dog, 1990s

#26 Engine House No. 16, operating from 1908 to 1981, now Central Ohio Fire Museum, 1990.

#29 North side of Federal Building, originally United States Post Office and Courthouse, 1991

#30 Construction of Fifth Third Center on Capitol Square, 1997.

#31 South gate of Goodale Park, installed in 1870, Circa 1997.

#32 Grant Hospital with Life Flight Helicopter above parking garage, 1990.

#34 Views of Harrison West Park, located at West Fourth Avenue and Oregon Avenue, 1990s

#35 Hayden Clinton Bank Building, constructed in 1869, the oldest structure facing the Ohio Statehouse, 1999

#36 Higgins Building, housing a saloon, grocery, and apartments, 1999.

#37 The Higgins Building, known as Flatirons, built in 1914, now houses the Flatiron Bar and Diner, 1999.

#38 Holiday Inn at Ohio Center, opened on March 1, 1988, on the site of Nicholas Gianetti’s saloon, 1990.

#40 Benjamin N. Huntington and Andrew D. Rodgers Houses on East Broad Street, 1990s

#42 Hyatt Regency Columbus, opened October 26, 1980, became city’s largest hotel. Circa 1990s

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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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