View of buildings in downtown Columbus in Ohio

17 Facts About Columbus, Ohio (That You Might Not Know)

I’m an Ohio local with several fun and historical facts about Columbus, Ohio! 

In this guide, I overview interesting information about the city, its residents, and its visitors. Politicians, athletes, artists, and celebrities have contributed to the state capital’s past. 

Learn about the first woman to fly around the world, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s weight lifting contest, and even a cow that was named homecoming queen! 

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17 Facts About Columbus, Ohio

1. “Columbus” Wasn’t the City’s Original Name

The capital of Ohio almost had a somewhat dull name: Ohio City. Instead, the Ohio State Legislature named the new city after the notorious Christopher Columbus on February 20, 1812. [Source]

2. Columbus Became the Capital of Ohio Before It Was Incorporated

In 1810, Ohio’s General Assembly decided that the permanent capital would have to be within 40 miles of the state’s geographic center. In February 1812, four businessmen of Franklinton offered up a 20-acre area of land, which officially became Columbus in 1816. [Source]

3. Columbus Has Had Many Nicknames

View of the iconic arches at High Street in Columbus. Ohio
A view of High Street with its iconic arches (photo: CiEll / Shutterstock)

Ohio’s capital has had several nicknames, including “Cbus” and “Cowtown.” In the 1890s, the name “Arch City” was born given the construction of arches over key streets. Metal arches were placed in the Short North in 2002 as a tribute to the historic arches.

📚 Related Reading: 23 Best Places to Visit in Ohio (in 2023)

4. Columbus is an Important City for Food Empires

Wendy’s opened its very first location on East Broad Street in 1969. Buffalo Wild Wings, Charley’s Grilled Subs, and Donato’s Pizza all started here as well. 

Currently, White Castle and Max and Erma’s are based here. Additionally, the Anthony Thomas Candy Company makes 50,000 pounds of chocolate every day at its Columbus location! 

5. Columbus is a Population Center

By population, this is the 15th-largest city in the United States. Additionally, 48% of all United States residents live within 600 miles of Columbus. There are many major cities just a one-day drive away, including New York City and Chicago.

6. Judy Garland Joined a Male Fraternity in This City

In 1938 (one year before The Wizard of Oz was released), Judy Garland was here to perform at the Ohio Theatre. At this time, she was inducted into Ohio State’s Alpha Gamma chapter of Sigma Chi. [Source]

7. Abraham Lincoln Learned He Had Been Elected President in the Ohio Statehouse

Aerial view of the Ohio Statehouse building
The Ohio Statehouse, where Abraham Lincoln learned he would be President

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was visiting William Dennison, Jr. (the Ohio Governor at the time) when a telegram arrived. It told him that the electoral college results had been finalized, and he was in line for the presidency. [Source]

8. Woody Harrelson Was Arrested Here

In 1982, before his rise to fame, actor Woody Harrelson was arrested close to Ohio State University. The arrest was for dancing in the street and attempting to run from the CPD officers. Ultimately, he pled guilty and paid $400 in court costs and fines.

9. The First Woman to Fly Solo around the World Hailed from Columbus

Columbus resident Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world. She took off in the Spirit of Columbus on March 19, 1964 and returned 29 days later.

Today, there’s an impressive bronze statue of her at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport. [Source]

10. Columbus is Home to the Ultimate Street for Sports Fans

The Nationwide Arena District building from the outside
Sports venues in the Arena District (photo: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock)

Watching a sports game is one of the top attractions in Columbus.

A one half-mile stretch of Nationwide Boulevard in the Arena District is home to the Columbus Blue Jackets (National Hockey League), Columbus Crew (Major League Soccer), and Columbus Clippers (Minor League Baseball). Every year, Columbus hosts over 130 professional games.

11. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Significant Figure Here

In 1970, Arnold Schwarzenegger won a weightlifting contest in Columbus. He came back to create and manage the Mr. Olympia contest, which ran from 1975 to 1980. In 1989, he started the Arnold Sports Festival, an annual major bodybuilding competition hosted here.

12. The Name of Columbus’ Hockey Team has Historical Significance

The NHL gave Columbus a franchise in June 1997. A “name the team” contest led to the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is an homage to Columbus’ role in the Civil War — the city manufactured thousands of blue uniforms for Union troops. [Source]

13. This City is Home to a Park of Roses

View of colorful roses at the Park of Roses in Columbus, Ohio
A serene view of the Park of Roses

Located within Whetstone Park, the Park of Roses is a breathtaking 13-acre garden that contains over 11,000 rose bushes. There are 350 rose varieties here, some having originated at the turn of the 20th century. Visiting is a great way to spend a summer afternoon!

14. This City Was Once the NFL Headquarters

Even though the state capital doesn’t currently have an NFL team, it was the site of the NFL headquarters from 1927 to 1939. It operated out of the Hayden Building, one of the city’s first skyscrapers. 

Also, the Columbus Panhandles was the first NFL team to play against another league team! [Source]

15. Columbus has a Bovine Homecoming Queen

In 1926, the student body at the Ohio State University elected Rosalind Morrison to be its homecoming queen. However, she was disqualified due to voter fraud. 

The crown went to her runner-up, Maudine Ormsby — a cow that had been nominated by the College of Agriculture. Maudine was in the homecoming parade, although she didn’t make it to the dance. [Source]

16. A Nearby Suburb is Home to a Field of Concrete Corn

The Field of Corn under the clear blue sky
Cornhenge in Dublin on a sunny day (photo: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock)

In 1994, artist Michael Cochran constructed 109 concrete corn sculptures, each standing 75 inches tall. He arranged them in rows on a field in Dublin, a Columbus suburb.

The display’s official name is Field of Corn (with Osage Oranges), although many people simply call it “Cornhenge.” It commemorates Ohio’s agricultural roots.

📚 Related Reading: Where to Stay in Columbus

17. Columbus’ Goodale Park Was a Pioneer

Goodale Park opened in the 1850s and is the oldest park in the city. This was one of the first three parks in the United States to be created as pleasure grounds. These spaces were specifically designed to give urban development workers access to open green space.

📚 Related Reading: 10 Best Parks in Cincinnati, Ohio

FAQs about Columbus, Ohio 

What are some fun facts about the city of Columbus, Ohio?

Some fun facts about the city of Columbus, Ohio include:
– The Ohio Roller Girls, a professional roller derby league, are in the top 10 among over 300 teams.
– The Greater Columbus Convention Center, located downtown, occupies 1.8 million square feet. It’s home to the state’s largest ballroom.

What are some historical facts about the city of Columbus, Ohio?

Some historical facts about the city of Columbus, Ohio include:
– Chillicothe, set on the Scioto River, was originally the capital of Ohio. Columbus became the capital in 1816, even before it was incorporated.
– Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock, the first woman to fly an aircraft around the world, was from Columbus. Her 29-day route in the Spirit of Columbus made headlines.


That’s it for my list of 17 facts about Columbus, Ohio! For more insights about nearby cities, see my guides to Cincinnati facts and Cleveland facts. Enjoy! 

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