Welcome to Columbus!
The Business History Conference has met in Columbus, Ohio, three previous timesin 1977, 1986, and 1996.
With a population of 787,000 as of the 2010 Census, Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and the center of the third largest metropolitan area in the state. It is one of only a handful of American cities that house both state government and the state's flagship public university. The State Capitol is a short walk south from the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency, while The Ohio State University lies about 2.5 miles north. In addition to state government and higher education, Columbus is home to a number of banks (Chase is the largest); ranks third in North America for employment of fashion designers; and has a suburb, Marysville, that has hosted a Honda manufacturing plant for thirty years.
For a flavor of the city's history, the documentary series, Columbus Neighborhoods, produced by the PBS-affiliate WOSU, is a good start.
Despite, or perhaps because of the city's size and general affluence, Columbus elites over the last several decades have engaged a fervent search to define the city and shed its reputation as a remarkably average "cowtown" that remains a good test market for new consumer items.
While Columbusites (as they are known) continue to bemoan their "fly-over" status and the lack of an ocean or a mountain (as well as passenger rail service), the city has managed to create an urban core that melds the corporate, the historic, and even the hip. We have spotlighted the city's best destinations within walking distance of the hotel, along with a couple that are worth a drive to the suburbs.
You can download to your iPod or MP3 player descriptions of various Columbus Art Walks, many accessible from the conference hotel.
The Short North
North of the hotel along High Street is the Short North Arts District with its fashionable nightspots, restaurants and boutiques. The area's redevelopment caught the eye of the New York Times in an article published in August 2012. As you travel north along High Street, the atmosphere gradually moves downscale as the Short North devolves into the souvenir shops and student bars of the University District.
The Arena District
A short walk west of the Hyatt is the home of the city's only major sports franchise, the NHL Blue Jackets, the Arena District. The development offers an assortment of nationally franchised restaurants in New Urbanist surroundings that are far more congenial to visitors than the site's previous occupantthe Ohio Penitentiary. If you would like to stretch your legs during lunch, the North Market is a short walk from the hotel and has 35 local food vendors.
For interested hockey fans, there is a game scheduled against the Calgary Flames on Friday night. Given the Jackets' record, tickets should be available. Alas, the AAA baseball team, the Columbus Clippers, will be in training camp at the time of the conference.
A stroll through the Arena District will bring you to the beginning of the Scioto Mile, a recently completed development showcasing the downtown's riverfront, and a great place for a jog and a view of the city.
Situated about a mile south of the hotel, German Village is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. An early example of gentrification through planning and the redevelopment of historic properties, the neighborhood features 1,600 restored buildings (out of over 1,800 designated) and is an unhurried place to eat, drink, stroll and admire the architecture.
West of German Village is the Brewery District, which has had a false start or two but still offers restaurants and nightlife. It is now home to Shadowbox Live, which is one of the longest-running arts groups in Columbus.
The Discovery District
Admirers of humorist James Thurber might want to stroll east-southeast from the hotel to the Discovery District to see the Thurber House. And nearby is the recently expanded and refurbished Columbus Museum of Art.
A Little Farther Afield
For those who rented a car and are coming early or staying after the conference, we recommend a trip to the nation's No. 1 ranked Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. For shopping, the Easton Town Center offers upscale retail and dining.
We look forward to seeing you in Columbus!
BHC Local Arrangements Committee, Bill Childs and Joe Arena