Columbus May Make Use of 100 Year-Old Plan to Rebuild Central City

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t's a guide to improving Columbus' economy and creating a dynamic and inspirational urban heart.

It calls for more parks for children and parkways to link neighborhoods, as well as more public art and an effort to beautify the Scioto River's banks.

It's a comprehensive plan to rebuild the central city.

It's also 100 years old.

The 1908 "City Beautiful" plan discusses ideas that planners, civic leaders and residents are talking about now to make Columbus more livable: bikeways, Scioto Mile park, more green space, more public art.

"Many of the issues discussed in the plan 100 years ago are issues that remain topics of discussion today," Kathy Mast Kane, executive director of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, said in an e-mail.

The foundation helped create a small, three-panel exhibit of the 1908 plan -- now in the lobby of City Hall -- that it wants to expand and display at other locations through the end of the year.

It also is working with the Columbus Metropolitan Club on a forum Sept. 24 at the Columbus Athletic Club Downtown to discuss what can be learned from the plan, Kane said.

"It is also our hope that learning about the 1908 plan, and the visionaries who authored it, will inspire forward thinking by our leadership and the public at large today," she said.

The 1908 vision sprang from a less ambitious idea. In 1904, then-Mayor Robert H. Jeffrey appointed a committee to look into creating a better park system.

At the time, America's cities were exploding with growth, thanks to industrialization. People moved from farms to cities to find work. Immigrants, many of them from eastern and southern Europe, filled central-city neighborhoods.

This led to crowded, dirty cities plagued by inadequate sanitary-sewer systems and lacking clean water.

Business leaders pressed for better public services. The introduction of the study mentions the "humiliating position" Columbus found itself in because of the lack of parks and playgrounds.

At the same time, a "City Beautiful" movement was sweeping the country. The new, classically inspired buildings hosting exhibits at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago had provided a vision of what America's cities could become...

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