Italian Village

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Signage at Hubbard and Kerr on the corner of Italian Village Park

Italian Village is a historic district located in the near north side of Columbus, Ohio, adjacent to the central business district. The area is bounded by Interstate 670 on the south, Fifth Avenue on the north, North High Street on the west, and the Conrail railroad tracks to the east. The Italian Village area was one of Columbus' first suburbs, annexed to the city of Columbus in 1862.

History[edit]

Industrial development flourished after the annexation and by the end of the 19th century, the street system was complete along with an extensive alley system that serviced horse stables behind residences. The first streetcar service began in 1863 when horse-drawn carriages would go as north as the Russell Street stables on North High Street. Streetcars went through several changes from rail (1871-1874), to paved streets (1876), to electric rail (1881). Although the streetcar service was extended, Columbus travelers had to go through Italian Village until 1895 when North Fourth Street was extended over the railroad tracks and into Downtown.

The first ethnic group to live in the neighborhood was the Irish Americans, concentrating around Naughten Street (now Goodale Boulevard) leading to the nickname "Irish Broadway". A larger number of Italians from the neighboring Flytown moved into the Italian Village at the end of the 19th century. Most of these residents were in construction trades and contributed to the quality and character of buildings there. Later, African Americans moved north and the Bethany Baptist Colored Church was established.

In beginning 1900s, the neighborhood was a stable middle-class residential community. A big change came between 1915-1923 when North High Street was widened and the facades of the previous century were removed and replaced with new ones. A zoning ordinance in 1923 restricted the street to commercial-retail only. Thanks to a slum clearance program and highway program, Summit Street was extended and the Goodale Expressway was built at the expense of some of the smaller streets.

By the 1960s, the area continued to deteriorate. To combat this issue and to preserve historic buildings, neighborhood residents formed the Italian Village Society and Italian Village Commission in 1973. Volunteers and Ohio State University students created the "Italian Village Development Plan" the next year. Community Development funds were made available in 1978 and the efforts started to attract middle-class families again. In 1986, the entire Short North area was awarded an "All American City" designation.

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