The Other Columbus: The Gentrifying City Zodiac

Scott Woods

According to the placemat in the Chinese restaurant I was in recently, 2019 is the year of the pig. Chinese symbols function largely as indicators of personality traits, informing fortune instead of predicting it, and in a moment of Zen-like clarity I considered what such a system might convey once one plugged in key Columbus iconography. 

1. Mixed-use space

Slick and politically charismatic, this go-to symbol portending the future of an area, people born under the sign of these dandelion darlings of the development world use phrases like “gentrification without the negative components” with a straight face. 

2. Buckeye

This state nut is toxic unless you’re eating the chocolate and peanut butter variety, which, after about two bites, is still inadvisable. If you’re born in the year of the nut, we’ll understand if you think Ohio State will go undefeated next season. 

3. For Sale sign

Persistent, ubiquitous. If you are born in the year of this Columbus staple, you’ll likely find that home you’ve been looking for just as soon as the previous residents are gentrified out.

4. Tax abatement

Ruthless and inventive, if you’re born in the year of City Council largesse, expect good fortune. And bad schools. 

5. Craft beer

Ever-present, indistinguishable and largely unnecessary, Columbus continues to crank out these culturally oblivious but indestructible cash-grabs. People born under this sign are nice enough, if self-important and loud. 

6. 614

Brash, self-confident. Ever since area codes went the way of daytime minutes, I haven’t heard anyone refer to Columbus this way and not have it be the butt of a joke about our incessant campaign to make our city seem cool.

7. Gourmet coffee

Bitter, quizzical. A symbol of the old guard, this former trendsetter of the cultural microbiome has been replaced by craft beer in the hierarchy of Hip Columbus™ hobbies. 

8. Speakeasy

Exclusive, coy. When a normal bar won’t do and you prefer your drinks on fire and served by barbershop quartet singers.

9. Food desert

Manipulative and stubborn, people possessing traits of this increasingly dire symbol tend to be of the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” species of self-starters, overstating things like public transportation to address such social ills, while in the same breath citing a dearth of said options when the destination is an arena.

10. Parking ticket

Duplicitous, judgmental. Basically paper-shaped cops, there is no reasoning with these types. Compatible with no one.

11. Hipster beard

Mesmerizing but arrogant. The bearer of this sign could really go either way socially, but chances are by the time you figure out whether or not they’re one of the good ones your record collection will already have been culled by fifty percent. Compatible with Speakeasies.

12. Traffic cone

All of these people should just move to Cleveland.