Beyond the Fold: March 22

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Project: Home - Franklinton

The rich, troubled history of Franklinton, the oldest section of Columbus, has filled books, and trying to summarize it is nearly impossible. I was extremely excited about the story - many of the features I write don't require me to delve into a topic as deeply as I did for this one.

I was neck-deep in archives, old stories from The Columbus Dispatch and material from the Ohio Historical Society. Three trees stood on my desk for about two weeks as I did my homework. My email box is littered with different sources giving me various tidbits that helped the story.

What made the story worthwhile was its introduction of Franklinton to readers of Alive. Even those who have lived in Columbus are at all familiar with this section, lying west of Downtown and the Hilltop neighborhood. And they should.

Mike Brown, Mayor Michael Coleman's spokesman, informed me that this area is going to be a hotspot of interest and redevelopment in the coming years. Rumor has it that many people, businesses and civic leaders see this area - now protected by a floodwall - holding the same potential of the Short North in the 1980s.

I'll be writing about it more in the future. Thanks to Linda Deitch, Disptach librarian, and all the sources who were helpful with the story.

Some of the interesting things I found in my research:

- This excerpt from a November 1, 2006 City Council meeting explains the number of vacant and subsidized housing units in the area and why no one before 2004 ever invested there:

Franklinton is one of the oldest and most under developed neighborhoods in the city. According to the 2000 Census, Franklinton has approximately 5444 housing units of which approximately 1000 units are vacant. The area has a 29% home ownership rate and a disproportionate number of subsidized housing units within the neighborhood boundaries... In 1983, the Franklinton area was designated as being within a Federal floodplain, which placed severe restrictions on new construction and discouraged property owners from improving their properties.

- This site maintained by the Ohio Historical Society lists Ohio's worst natural disasters. Check out the freak waves that came off Lake Erie and bombarded the state's northern shore.