City Quotient

Marble Marvel

By
From the March 2014 edition

The Village of Marble Cliff appears to have neither marble nor a cliff. So how did it get its name? Some names have deep historic connections—or prehistoric, in this case. Four hundred million years ago, marine critters left behind skeletons and shells that were compressed into Columbus limestone. It’s been used in construction all over the city.

The limestone came from quarries in the Scioto River valley northwest of the city. Marble Cliff was the largest quarry, shipping 80 railcars daily by the 1880s. The name was great advertising, but there was no marble, which is created when heat and pressure metamorphose limestone. That transformation didn’t happen in Central Ohio. The only “cliff” would have been the rock walls left behind as the quarriers worked downward. Still, the name suggested a high-class product.

Quarry jobs attracted Italian workers to communities like San Margherita. One, Sylvio Casparis, bought a quarry in 1899 and in 1913 merged several others under the Marble Cliff Quarries name. At their peak, they covered 800 acres. But they’ve since closed, and a lot of the land has been redeveloped as housing.

In 1890, a new subdivision took that high-sounding quarry name. The Village of Marble Cliff was big, extending below Fifth Avenue from the Scioto to the Olentangy. But Grandview Heights formed in 1906 and cut Marble Cliff back to its current size: 175 acres and 600 residents. In 1908, Casparis built a large home there on Arlington Avenue. Dubbed Casparis Castle, it featured a tower from which he supposedly kept an eye on his quarries. It’s still there, on the brow of the hill on the west edge of classy little Marble Cliff.

 

Do you really have to pay the parking meters at Easton Town Center? The meters say the money is for charity. Isn’t it ironic that suburban stores and malls have always offered acres of free parking, but shoppers at Easton willingly drop their dimes and quarters into parking meters? Maybe it’s because the metered spaces are the best spaces—or maybe it’s because all the meter money benefits local charities.

Easton’s public relations firm says the Easton Community Foundation has donated nearly $5 million to charities and schools in Central Ohio. Six organizations are chosen annually as beneficiaries of the Change for Charity program, each receiving the meter revenue from a randomly selected two-month period.

This year, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will get the meter revenues from March and April, and the Gladden Community House gets the July and August income.

That’s the good news. The bad news? Well, there really isn’t any. Easton watches for serial non-payers, but if you’re shopping and stay too long or forget to pay, your car will still be there, and it won’t be wearing a boot. On your windshield you might find an “opportunity to pay” a modest fine.

So when you go to Easton, shop. Eat. Take in a movie. And feed those meters. 

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to cityquotient@columbusmonthly.com, and the answer might appear in a future column.