One of the first settlements in Franklin Count was Franklinton, which was eventually annexed into Columbus. Today, the neighborhood is located immediately west of downtown and includes the Bottoms. This area was so named due to the fact that the land itself is lower than the Olentangy and Scioto rivers. As a result, a floodwall was built to protect the area from flooding. Yet the rich soil also made it an ideal location for farming, in addition to its direct connection with the Ohio River for transporting goods.
Franklinton was originally named after Benjamin Franklin, as the founder Lucas Sullivant wanted to honor this individual
However, the location eventually led to serious flooding in the early 20th century, when the wooden levees collapsed. The flood cost 93 individuals their lives, in addition to the loss of 500 buildings and all the bridges within the downtown area. Yet, another major flood hit the area in 1959, causing damage because the frozen ground could not soak up the rapid rainfall and the ensuing runoff. By 1983, the area was deemed a floodplain and building restrictions caused the decline of the area’s population. One of the results of the lack of interest in the area throughout the latter half of the 20th century was an increase in the poverty level. However, an influx of developers has resulted in existing buildings being refurbished to retain the character of this classic neighborhood and the beginning of an economic revitalization.
The land use reflects a pattern of independence and self-sufficiency throughout the decades. Sub-areas within the neighborhood include office, research, commercial and even light industry uses, along with the residential offerings. Arts-related uses have been emphasized as part of the redevelopment of this district, along with the protection of single family homes. The district is meant to retain a family friendly atmosphere throughout the redevelopment process. Mixed use developments are strongly encouraged, but commercial uses are focused primarily on West Broad Street. Manufacturing has not been abandoned, but instead is being concentrated along McKinley and Harmon Avenues. The Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Mt. Carmel West Medical Center and the Veterans Memorial are also part of the Franklinton district.
However, within the district are several parks with basketball courts, playgrounds and public spaces for residents, in addition to athletic fields. Walking trails close to the river are also available to residents. Genoa Park is the host of such events as Rhythm on the River, Latino Festival and Waterfire. In addition to the redevelopment efforts, Franklinton also including facilities for the public, such as swimming pools, recreational centers and community gathering places. There are restaurants and other social venues dotted throughout the district.
One of the most unique features of the district is that it is home to the AD Farrow Harley Davidson dealership. This is the oldest Harley Davidson dealership in America. Its original shop has been turned into a museum, showcasing the dealership’s history within the district. Other unique aspects of the district include the Holy Family Catholic Church, which was completed in 1889. During the Flood of 1913, this church provided relief for flood victims.
With the completion of the Franklinton Floodwall in 2004, the area has been targeted for revitalization. Columbus city officials are focusing on creating the next Short North district within Franklinton, providing opportunities for local businesses, as well as larger national chains. This is definitely a neighborhood in transition.