Many of the early residents of Italian Village chose to live there because of the nearby employment opportunities.
The neighborhood, which dates from the late 1800s and mostly centers around Fourth Avenue, just north of downtown Columbus and east of the Short North, still has a mixed-use feel. Many of the now-shuttered factories have been converted to housing, shops or restaurants.
For Mike and Katie Beaumont, parents of 2-year-old Mia, that's part of the area's appeal. They like that there's a coffee shop and a market right around the corner from their house, which is one of the many newer residences that have sprouted up during the last decade. Houses, apartments and condominiums continue to be built on the neighborhood's vacant lots.
"This was very much a working-class neighborhood," said Mike Beaumont, who has lived there for four years. "It (still) has a real industrial feel to it."
Today, it's a place where people walk their dogs and families stroll to local playgrounds. "The nice thing is, it's got a real neighborhood feel," he said. The Beaumonts hope to raise their daughter in the neighborhood. "We'd like to try," he said. "Everybody assumes when you have kids you have to leave the city. We want to try not to do that."
Although the neighborhood doesn't boast a play cafe or other kid-focused hangouts, the Beaumonts and other young families have found that most of the businesses in the area welcome well-behaved children.
Kids will enjoy watching staffers make scones and other baked goods at the Fox in Snow Cafe. The neighborhood coffee shop, housed in a building that was a masonry, also serves egg sandwiches and granola.
You'll often see kids at Seventh Son Brewing Co. The brewery, which opened in an old auto garage in 2013, regularly brings in food trucks that attract local families.
The Market Italian Village, a combination cafe and gourmet grocery, has an extensive menu ranging from pizza to duck. It also carries fresh produce and wine.
Laughlin's Bakery is another popular stop for locals. The bakery, which also offers some gluten-free items, prepares European-style goodies like French madeleines and Danish pastries and also bakes cakes and bread.
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop is the place to get your sugar fix. Shoppers can choose from a variety of bottled sodas (think bacon- and banana-flavored) and oodles of candies and sweets.
At press time, the neighborhood had just learned a local favorite, Cravings Carryout Café, had lost its lease on Third Avenue and its much hoped-for relocation was still up in the air.
The neighborhood offers delightful playgrounds in Veritas Community Church playground and Italian Village Park.
One of the best things about living in Italian Village is its proximity to High Street and the ability to walk to Gallery Hop and other Short North activities, said Ingrid Navarro, who lives in one of the neighborhood's historic homes with husband Michael and their two young children. (Gallery Hop is the monthly event where Short North attractions stay open late.)
"As parents living in this area, we do stuff throughout the Short North," she said. "There's always something going on."
Other family-friendly attractions near to Italian Village's boundaries include Yoga on High, which offers prenatal and kids' classes, and Wild Goose Creative, an organization dedicated to promoting the arts. The nonprofit hosts art exhibits, special events and youth open mic nights.