Walking home several days ago I noticed an arch greeting me as I got across Lane Avenue. Confused, confounded and returning from Gallery Hop, I wondered how it arrived there. It was a good Hop, so by this time my thought process was beginning to get a little creative and my hopping companions and I came up with an array of theories of how the arch got there.
It wasn’t until I passed by it again the next day that I noticed it said “Old North Columbus” and that there was also another one on High Street near Arcadia Avenue. It seems funny to me that there is the Short North to the south and the Old North to the north, sandwiching campus in the middle. Does that make campus the “Middle North” or “North Central?”
Naming paradoxes aside, as a resident of Old North Columbus I am glad that my neighborhood finally has an advertised title and identity because it certainly has a character all its own. The Old North geographically and typologically falls between campus and Clintonville. The population of the area is a mix of students, with more international, older and hipper students than in other areas of campus, and families, some of which have lived in the area for generations. School buses still drive through the Old North every weekday and pick up students, and many of the homes have the charm that only the life of a family could bring. The area also boasts a beautiful collection of old school buildings and churches.
Commercially, the Old North is in a league of its own. While Clintonville boasts a great collection of local small businesses, restaurants and vintage stores, and campus is riddled with chain fast food restaurants and head shops, the Old North presents a great blend of the unusual and the mature. There are many great oddities that dot High, like Cluck-U-Chicken or the PO Boy Shrimp Shack. For gentlemen’s couture, an Old North Columbusite can enjoy a cigar at Smoker’s Haven, pick up a bottle of cognac at the State Liquor Agency or toe-tap to some jazz at Dick’s Den. There is also an array of international experiences, from enjoying a Hookah at one of several cafes or eating out at authentic Thai, Indian, Japanese and Ethiopian restaurants.
Old North Columbus is no longer the awkward area in between Lane and Clintonville, the separation between students and “real people,” or an orange barrel-lined nightmare. To me, it is my new home and I’d like to invite everyone to come north to experience one of the most active and diverse areas of Columbus.