What the last 10 years meant for Columbus

This month’s cover story ("The Defining Decade: The Birth of a New Columbus") is a look back at the past 10 years. It’s been an extraordinary period for the region, which has led the Midwest in both population and economic growth, creating sweeping changes. The city is a different place, both culturally (a more confident attitude) and physically (new parks, high-rises, medical towers and more).

To show the city’s transformation over the past decade, we highlighted 10 key moments. It wasn’t an easy task, finding defining events through which we could tell the story of the era’s dramatic shifts on a number of fronts. And our framing device made it even more difficult. We limited ourselves to one moment for each year (though we did also include a timeline with short descriptions of other events). The result was kind of a puzzle. We had to come up with a package that covers a variety of topics and key changes while also meeting our framing requirements. I think we did a good job solving the puzzle, but these kinds of lists are meant to spark debate, and my guess is some of you may disagree with our choices. Shocking, I know.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we missed (my email address is dghose@columbusmonthly.com), but I also wanted to head off one potential complaint. Our selection criteria were different than with a typical retrospective feature. We weren’t identifying the biggest news events of the decade, though some of our selections were certainly headline-worthy. Rather, we were highlighting moments that allowed us to discuss big changes we’ve seen in the city, even if the moment itself was fairly small.

In other words, yes, we know the release of an academic study from a Canadian university about inequality isn’t as big a deal in Columbus as the Buckeyes winning a national championship. But that 2015 report did identify how the city is changing, and as much as we love Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and the other members of that triumphant squad, an excellent football team isn’t an unusual thing in this city. We’re not Ann Arbor.

While the rest of our staff was focusing on the city’s big changes over the past decade, photo editor Tim Johnson was doing the opposite. Tim put together a photo essay (“As Columbus Changes, These Businesses Stay the Same") that documents Central Ohio businesses that refuse to change—time capsules that look essentially the same as they did a decade ago, or maybe even a generation past. It’s not easy for these places to survive in the face of so much progress and economic disruption, but Tim found spending time with them anything but depressing. “There’s a loyalty to their customers,” he says, “a pride in doing things the traditional, right way in a world that is so disposable.”