The Short North Arts District is the most vibrant spot in the City of Columbus and is home to over 300 exciting businesses, the majority of which are locally owned or headquartered. It has received numerous national accolades, is considered a model for urban revitalization, and is the art and soul of Columbus.
The Short North is a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio centered on the main strip of High Street immediately north of the Arena District and extending until just south of the University District and Ohio State University. The Victorian Village neighborhood is just west of High St. and Italian Village neighborhood is East of High St. The Short North is a commercial and residential district, with known for being especially walkable. Gallery Hop on the first Saturday of each month brings people from all around Ohio to experience art gallery openings and entertainment.
The Short North has been described as creative, colorful, offbeat, and trendy. The district is populated with art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants, and coffee shops. Most of the area is tightly packed historic brick buildings with traditional storefronts often painted brightly. Murals and art are displayed through the area. 17 lighted arches span the district from 5th Avenue to Goodale Blvd. reminiscent of the arches present in the early 1900s.
In the early 1980s, The Wood Companies partnered with young homeowners and merchants who wanted to create a better, safer, more vibrant neighborhood unlike any other neighborhood in the Midwest. Together, we demonstrated what passionate people can do when they work together.
Before it was a vibrant sector of art and culture, the Short North Arts District was a rough area comprised mostly of deserted, derelict buildings with boarded up windows. There were few actual businesses, and the newly built Convention Center highlighted just how neglected High Street had become. The stretch of High Street that has helped put Columbus on the map was at that time known to residents as the “Near Northside.” It was local police who dubbed the area the “Short North,” as it was north of downtown Columbus and short of The Ohio State University campus.
A successful renewal project of German Village in the 1960s and historic tax credits gave developers ideas for the Short North Arts District, and the charm of the buildings and potential for redevelopment began to attract business owners. Beginning in 1980, a handful of people who were integral in founding the Short North Arts District worked hard to create its identity as a place where artistic culture and small businesses are celebrated. The Short North Business Association was soon founded to seek funding for neighborhood reforms from the City of Columbus and transform the area into a thriving community.
Gallery owners began what they called a “cooperative opening” in 1984, debuting new exhibits on the first Saturday of each month. The openings were an immediate success, helping to attract both visitors and new business owners. The monthly event, dubbed Gallery Hop in 1985, has continued to thrive and grown to be an inherent element of the Short North Arts District. In addition to over a dozen unique galleries, many shops and restaurants also host artist receptions and sell artwork of all mediums during Gallery Hop.
In 1999, the Short North Special Improvement District (SID) was established to improve the safety, cleanliness, and beauty of the District. One of the most recognizable products of the SID is the District’s lighted arches, which harken back to 1888 when Columbus first became known as “Arch City.” Ohio was chosen to host the centennial celebration of the creation of the Northwest Territory since it was the first state carved out of the territory. Wooden arches lit by gaslight were built to both light the streets and dazzle visitors. Steel and electric lights replaced the arches in 1896, but in 1916 they were torn down and replaced by light posts. In 2002, almost 100 years later, 17 steel arches were reinstalled on High Street from Goodale to Fifth Avenue, giving the Short North Arts District its identifying feature.
“The Short North neighborhood is humming with an eclectic cultural scene, and new development…”
“One of the country’s fastest-growing cities has seen a surge in homegrown distilleries that are drawing customers with tasting rooms, restaurants and bottle shops…”
“Today there are more fashion designers in Columbus than in any other American city besides New York and Los Angeles…”