A Good Place To Live. Headquarters for such notable companies as Abercrombie and Fitch, Bath and Body Works, CompuServe and The Limited/Express. Home to such great restaurants as Max Erma's and Mark Pi's. Some swanky areas include New Albany (aka Wexnerville) and Upper Arlington. People here, and all over Ohio, like to drink pop, not soda. Fly into Columbus via Port Columbus International Airport, code CMH.

I've been in Columbus about 8 years now. It's a great, diverse community that has a nice, friendly atmosphere.

Here are a few more places in Columbus that are worth checking out:

Columbus is popularly called "Cow-Town," and lives up to that title to a great degree. It is home to some of the most spectacular industrialist "half-assery" in the midwestern United States, most notably: the 'new' Center of Science & Industry (COSI) building, which looks like some sort of giant, distended purple gumdrop....the Santa Maria recreation, now crumbling and falling apart and nearly condemned because nobody wants to pay to walk around a thirty-seven foot boat in the Scioto River..."Ameriflora," which was partly a celebration of the cintecentennial of Columbus discovering America, and partly a celebration of a bunch of rich investors' idea of a good time (an overhyped flower show), and a host of other smaller and lesser-known flops (anybody remember the Ohio Glories, or the Horizons? Or the Quest?).

Columbus has recently achieved some note for its expansion team in the NHL, the BlueJackets (though I personally don't know anybody that walks around wearing those jackets, do you? Makes people look like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). It's not really a pro-sports town--most of the fervor and madness is dedicated to our old standard, Ohio State University and its mad, mad, man Buckeyes college football team. We've hosted the illustrious Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, and....uh....I guess John Cooper, too. I'll be fair--Cooper got a lot of slack in the wrong areas and not enough in the right ones....but we'll digress away from that....

Columbus' "Old Pen," the Columbus Penitentiary, was torn down a few years ago to make way for the 'new and improved' Arena District and Nationwide Arena for the BlueJackets to call home. In its day, the Old Pen was home to some famous murderers and criminals for almost a century--including the famed short-story author O. Henry, who was incarcerated there for a year on minor charges (the nature of which I have yet to find out about).

Columbus is also seen by some to be the Midwestern San Francisco to its gay/lebsian/alternative lifestyles community--the Stonewall Union has strong presence in the city and in its Short North arts/retail district as well. If you want to dress like it, lick it, taste it, stroke it, feel it, see it, film it, or listen to it, it's available to you. However, in a paradoxical fashion true to the city's nature, it also has a bizarrely strong right-wing fundamentalist streak (across the street from the Stonewall Union, rainbow banners flying, is the new Christian Community Center, taking up space in a former adult movie theatre). As Midwestern cities go, however, you could do a lot worse than Columbus when seeking an open-minded, artistically-friendly community to explore your identity.

Ohio State University, aside from football and law schools....is really big. That's about it. Say what you will about the campus' facilities and size, which are both tremendous(-ly frustrating, that is), OSU is pretty much its sports department, Archie Griffith (two-time Heisman trophy winner) and...that's all. Go to a smaller school if you want to feel like a human being.

Columbus' outer 'boroughs,' (Bexley, Upper Arlington, Hilliard, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Pickerington, Groveport/Grove City, Westerville, Gahanna, Dublin, Worthington, and in some cases Obetz) are like tight-closed satellites that are being absorbed by their parent planet. Columbus was never really founded as a single city--instead, it was originally an annex to the small town of Franklinton (founded by surveyor Lucas Sullivant). When the time came to select a capital city for Ohio, Franklinton wanted the job, being centrally located and right on the banks of the Scioto River.

Unfortunately, Franklinton had a major shortcoming--flooding. So it decided, to improve its chances of winning the title, to build an annex on the upper-north shore end of the Scioto, across the river from town proper. It decided to arbitrarily name this annex after Christopher Columbus....thus "Columbus" came into being. Over the years, its expansion of city and population limits came to engulf the outer towns who had actually existed either before or concurrently with "Columbus." So now they're more like neighborhoods than towns on their own, though some like Westerville still retain their own city councils and neighborhood organizations.

Columbus is too metropolitan to be hick, too rural to be a metropolis. Too artsy to be crude, too plain to be aesthetic. It's the single largest per-capita restaurant-hosting town; every chain has at least one location there for testing and demographic purposes. It has some of the most interesting historical entries in its past: from public electrocutions that went on on Mound Street until the late 1920's to the single largest State Fair in the midwest--but yet it seems like nothing happens on a day-to-day basis around here.

From a living standpoint, it ranks better than a lot of others--relatively low violent crime, good job markets, and a variable cross-section of influences, cultures, races, and living conditions that you could go from the fetidly squalid to the beautifully quaint in about two left turns, depending on where on the city map you're located.

Some random interesting facts about Columbus, Ohio.

The largest local event happens every year late in June or early in July. It's the community festival, or Comfest for short. It's a free 3 day festival with 6 stages, countless merchants (legal and otherwise), and nearly every eccentric or lefty Columbus native you've ever met. There's bound to be some band that you can at least tap your feet to, no matter how picky your tastes. The beer is reasonably priced and you can easily get yourself and a loved one drunk with the beer tokens from volunteering for one 4 hour shift. You're bound to see many topless hairy hippie chicks. Chill out, they're just boobs. If you're around Columbus during summer, I highly recommend checking it out. Oh yeah, I forgot the best part. The frat boys are back at their parents' house all summer!

Columbus is packed to the brim with queers, artists and galleries. You can't walk half a block in the Short North without seeing a flier for an art opening and a giant rainbow flag. The first Saturday of every month is gallery hop. You can walk from gallery to gallery looking at art, people, or overpriced crap. You will see many middle class liberals, art enthusiasts, fag hags, Guppies, and a handful of kids on mushrooms. Did I mention how queer friendly the city is? Assuming you're in the right part of town, anyway. I must admit, it is liberating to know you can walk around with a skirt and a penis and there will be a dozen folks that have your back if you get into any trouble.

OSU. The Ohio State University. It's a gigantic college, and all of the night life in the city directly reflects that. Downtown has some things going on, plenty of bars and restaurants, but not nearly as active as most cities, and not very residential. Campus, on the other hand, is quite nice if you're poor, like cheap veggie-friendly food, cheap, free beer from kegs and a short walk home. I know I do! The Oval, though currently under construction, is a giant oval of grass and walkways surrounded by university buildings. It's a nice place to people watch if you're bored. Some friends and I actually camped there for a few months once, using social engineering to insist that "Yes, we have a permit to do this" to any official looking people. It's worth a try if you're ever homeless here.

Speaking of homelessness, this is a great place to be homeless. It was better when they had the open shelter, but as long you have somewhat normal social skills, you'll get along just fine. Food not Bombs serves food on and off, usually on Sundays. There are many, many abandoned (or otherwise vacant) houses around Cbus. Combine that with the condensed campus area, and you've got an ideal location for a squat. The smaller landlords tend to be pretty slow about doing anything about people living in their empty properties. If you have access to a car, there are plenty of great dumpsters around town. I won't mention them, just ask around. There are also some soup kitchens and food pantries. Also, campus is near some tracks, if you're into train hopping. Just be smart and you'll live like a king.

If you're walking down High Street one night and you hear the letters "O-H" yelled in your direction, you're expected to yell "I-O" back, completing the word OHIO. I find it much more amusing to yell "O-H" back once again, thereby briefly confusing the intoxicated college caricature. Try it! Be creative! You'll get an array of hilarious responses and maybe even a scar to show your friends! No, fights are not uncommon, but they’re pretty easy to escape unless you’re a moron like myself. Just don’t rip anyone off and don’t let your mouth get out of hand; you’ll be fine.

All in all, Columbus is a quirky little city with plenty of possibilities bubbling just under the surface. It’s one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been, and it’s not without an odd discordian charm. I Sunk Columbus, Ohio!

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