City of Columbus Annual Report: 1858-1859

159 years ago, Columbus released its first (as far as I can find) annual report detailing all sorts of information on the state of the city. These reports were issued well into the 1980s, and while the first included mostly financial information such as tax receipts and expenditures, as the years passed, they would grow to incude everything from annexation numbers to weather statistics and crime data. I will occasionally write about some of the more interesting highlights of these historic documents on the city’s past.

Let’s look at some highlights from the report. First up, Columbus’ finances.

Columbus’ treasury numbers between March 1858 and April 1859.

Certainly much has changed in the city’s expenditures, with a budget that now exceeds $1 billion a year.

Next up is a plea from then City Clerk Joseph Dowdall about the need to protect the city’s records.

Dowdall would be the City Clerk through 1861. He would show up in the Columbus records through the early 1880s, when in 1880 he gained a permit to build a 2-story brick addition to a home.

City leaders were paid a *little* less per year than they are now. Interesting that the mayor earned the lowest amount of all. Even with inflation over the years, the $400 salary would only have been about $11,300 in 2017. Clearly public service back then was not a lucrative proposition.

Only 7 years after the land was donated to the city, Goodale Park was still being surveyed.

The now infamous North Graveyard received a few repairs that year. North Graveyard was once on the northern fringes of Downtown, where North Market would eventually rise. Sometime after the graveyard was “moved” in 1872, its original location was all but forgotten. In the early 2000s, utility work at North Market made a grisly discovery a la the Poltergeist movie- bodies. It seems that in the hasty movement of the cemetery, through outright intent, neglect or lost records, many bodies had simply never been moved at all. There has long been the belief that many more remains are still in the ground under the area. The upcoming Market Tower project has a good chance of finding at least some of them.

Young Professionals: A Comparison

**Updated 11/22/2017.

Millennials and Young Professionals are big news these days. Millennials are the largest generation ever in terms of total numbers (exceeding 76 million), and their choices are already having big impacts on everything from housing to the economy, and Young Professionals have long been an important urban demographic. I wanted to look at Columbus and its peers to see where it ranks in terms of attracting the 25-34 age group that include these demographics.

For the comparison, I looked at metro areas of 1.5-2.5 million as well as major Midwest metros and then used their core cities to get the numbers.

Rank of Total Population Aged 25-34


1. Chicago: 463,236_______1. Chicago: 510,042________1. Chicago: 532,349
2. San Antonio: 180,981_____2. San Antonio: 200,645____2. San Antonio: 241,783
3. Austin: 137,523_________3. Austin: 162,247_________3. Austin: 214,687
4. San Jose, CA: 133,144___4. Columbus: 147,584______4. Columbus: 180,685
5. Columbus: 131,641______5. San Jose, CA: 142,551___5. San Jose, CA: 165,408
6. Indianapolis: 114,532_____6. Indianapolis: 133,088____6. Charlotte, NC: 149,024
7. Detroit: 110,759_________7. Charlotte, NC: 127,539___7. Indianapolis: 143,328
8. Charlotte, NC: 100,025____8. Portland, OR: 113,210___8. Nashville: 130,593
9. Portland, OR: 90,023_____9. Nashville: 110,882______9. Portland: 127,557
10. Las Vegas: 84,418______10. Milwaukee: 97,359____10. Milwaukee: 101,449
11. Milwaukee: 82,060______11. Detroit: 85,023_______11. Detroit: 101,246
12. Sacramento, CA: 75,497___12. Minneapolis: 81,532__12. Sacramento: 92,883
13. Minneapolis: 74,208___13. Las Vegas: 81,212______13. Minneapolis: 90,022
14. Kansas City, MO: 68,060__14. Sacramento: 78,527__14. Las Vegas: 84,756
15. Virginia Beach: 60,749__15. Kansas City: 73,872____15. Kansas City: 81,532
16. Omaha, NE: 56,248____16. Virginia Beach: 67,614__16. Virginia Beach: 75,365
17. Wichita, KS: 52,426____17. Omaha: 62,396________17. Omaha: 72,055
18. Cleveland: 50,558_____18. St. Louis: 57,627_______18. Orlando: 63,947
19. St. Louis: 48,137______19. Wichita: 56,737________19. Pittsburgh: 62,515
20. Cincinnati: 44,945_____20. Cleveland: 54,428______20. St. Louis: 61,777
21. Toledo: 43,134_______21. Pittsburgh: 51,109______21. Cleveland: 58,773
22. Orlando: 40,846______22. St. Paul: 50,107________22. Wichita: 57,869
23. St. Paul, MN: 39,676__23. Cincinnati: 49,067_______23. St. Paul: 55,306
24. Lincoln, NE: 38,893___24. Orlando: 48,102________24. Cincinnati: 54,754
25. Madison, WI: 38,826___25. Madison: 44,662_______25. Madison: 48,759
26. Pittsburgh: 38,744____26. Lincoln: 42,034_________26. Lincoln: 43,882
27. Grand Rapids: 35,287__27. Toledo: 41,580________27: Toledo: 42,888
28. Des Moines: 32,640__28. Fort Wayne: 35,193______28. Grand Rapids: 39,829
29. Fort Wayne, IN: 31,738__29. Providence: 31,044____29. Fort Wayne: 37,372
30. Akron: 30,436_______30. Grand Rapids: 30,963____30. Des Moines: 34,961
31. Providence, RI: 29,307__31. Des Moines: 30,376____31. Providence: 30,630
32. Dayton: 18,591_______32. Akron: 27,446_________32. Akron: 29,786
33. Youngstown: 8,505____33. Dayton: 20,278________33. Dayton: 22,930
34. Nashville, TN: N/A___34. Youngtown: 8,484_______34. Youngstown: 7,621

So Columbus ranks highly among total population in the 25-34 age group. But what about growth?

Total Growth Rank in 25-34 Population 2005-2016

1. Austin, TX: 77,164
2. Chicago: 69,113
3. San Antonio, TX: 60,802
4. Columbus: 49,044
5. Charlotte, NC: 48,999
6. Portland, OR: 37,534
7. San Jose, CA: 32,264
8. Indianapolis, IN: 28,796
9. Pittsburgh, PA: 23,771
10. Orlando, FL: 23,101
11. Milwaukee, WI: 19,389
12. Sacramento, CA: 17,386
13. Minneapolis, MN: 15,814
14. Omaha, NE: 15,807
15. St. Paul, MN: 15,630
16. Virginia Beach, VA: 14,616
17. St. Louis, MO: 13,642
18. Kansas City, MO: 13,472
19. Madison, WI: 9,933
20. Cincinnati: 9,809
21. Cleveland: 8,215
22. Fort Wayne, IN: 5,634
23. Wichita, KS: 5,443
24. Lincoln, NE: 4,989
25. Grand Rapids, MI: 4,542
26. Dayton: 4,339
27. Des Moines, IA: 2,321
28. Providence, RI: 1,323
29. Las Vegas, NV: 338
30. Toledo: -246
31. Akron: -650
32. Youngstown: -884
33. Detroit, MI: -9,513
34. Nashville: N/A

Again, Columbus ranks near the top during this period. What about more recently, since 2010?

Total Growth Rank of 25-34 Population 2010-2016

1. Austin: 52,440
2. San Antonio: 41,138
3. Columbus: 33,101
4. San Jose: 22,857
5. Chicago: 22,307
6. Charlotte: 21,485
7. Nashville: 19,711
8. Detroit: 16,223
9. Orlando: 15,845
10. Sacramento: 14,356
11. Portland: 14,347
12. Pittsburgh: 11,406
13. Indianapolis: 10,240
14. Omaha: 9,659
15. Grand Rapids: 8,866
16. Minneapolis: 8,490
17. Virginia Beach: 7,751
18. Kansas City: 7,660
19. Cincinnati: 5,687
20. St. Paul: 5,199
21. Des Moines: 4,585
22. Cleveland: 4,345
23. St. Louis: 4,152
24. Madison: 4,097
25. Milwaukee: 4,090
26. Las Vegas: 3,544
27. Dayton: 2,652
28. Akron: 2,340
29. Fort Wayne: 2,179
30. Lincoln: 1,848
31. Toledo: 1,308
32. Wichita: 1,132
33. Providence: -414
34. Youngstown: -863

So Columbus is also doing well since 2010 and attracts significantly more people in the 25-34 age group than cities often cited for this very metric.

Finally, now that we know the totals and the growth, what is the % of total city population that the 25-34 age group makes up?

25-34 % of Total City Population 2016

1. Orlando: 23.1%
2. Austin: 22.6%
3. Minneapolis: 21.8%
4. Columbus: 20.9%
5. Pittsburgh: 20.6%
6. Grand Rapids: 20.3%
7. Portland: 19.9%
8. Nashville: 19.8%
9. St. Louis: 19.8%
10. Chicago: 19.7%
11. Madison: 19.3%
12. Sacramento: 18.8%
13. Cincinnati: 18.3%
14. St. Paul: 18.3%
15. Charlotte: 17.7%
16. Providence: 17.1%
17. Milwaukee: 17.0%
18. Kansas City: 16.9%
19. Indianapolis: 16.8%
20. Virginia Beach: 16.7%
21. Des Moines: 16.2%
22. San Antonio: 16.2%
23. Omaha: 16.1%
24. San Jose: 16.1%
25. Lincoln: 15.7%
26. Toledo: 15.4%
27. Cleveland: 15.2%
28. Akron: 15.1%
29. Detroit: 15.0%
30. Wichita: 14.8%
31. Fort Wayne: 14.3%
32. Las Vegas: 13.4%
33. Youngstown: 11.9%
34. Dayton: 8.2%

Columbus has an existing large population of the 25-34 age demographic, and looks to be one of the strongest performers into the near future.
Some would ask why that would be considering that Columbus transit is woefully lacking and has a reputation (very undeservedly, in my opinion) of being suburban- characteristics that Millennials/YPers supposedly almost universally reject. Perhaps the bottom line is that economics trump all other desires. Cost of living and employment tend to be higher up the list than rail lines, and Columbus has both a strong economy and relatively low COL. Whatever the case may be, Columbus seems to be doing something right.

For more information on demographics, go to: Columbus Demographics
And for Franklin County racial and economic maps, go to: Census Tract and Zip Code Maps

Housing Trends of Columbus

***Originally Posted May 23, 2014, updated with 2014 data 9/18/2015 and again on 5/29/2016 with 2015 data***

I posted a graph recently showing housing permits for Franklin County to show how construction was trending. Today, I found more long-term data for both the city and county that continue to show some interesting trends.

First, let’s look at just the city of Columbus.

The chart above goes back through the mid-1990s. The first thing to notice is the housing boom from 1999-2002. Both single-family and multi-family construction was booming. The very good economic conditions, or seemingly good ones, during the 1999-2000 period is probably most responsible for this. What’s most interesting is that the boom seemed to last through at least part of the mild recession experienced in 2001-2002. After that, housing of both types started to decline through the late 2000s. This shows that construction in the city began to decline as early as 2002-2003, before the peak of the general housing boom in the mid-2000s.

Another interesting fact is at the end of the period. Multi-family units have recovered and are back in boom territory. This boom, however, is much different than the one that occurred more than a decade ago, as shown by the below chart.

During the 1999-2002 housing boom, multi-family housing averaged 59.3% of all the units constructed. In the current boom, which began in 2012, multi-family housing has averaged 81.4% of all the units constructed. The average difference between the types 1999-2002 was just 18.6 points. In the current boom, the difference is almost 63 points! In that regard, there really is no comparison between the housing boom a decade ago and the current one. Multi-family construction is in MUCH higher relative demand now than it was at any time in the last 20 years, including during the last housing boom.

But what does this tell us about where the housing is actually being constructed? Well, for that, we have to look at the entirety of Franklin County. Is the county also seeing a similar multi-family boom, or has single-family construction recovered there more than in the city?

This chart, in some aspects, is the opposite of the one for the city. While in the city, multi-family units consistently outnumbered single-family, the opposite is true for the county as a whole. This is likely because the county takes into account all the suburban areas, most of which are dominated by single-family housing. In only a few instances did multi-family housing units outnumber single-family before 2010. After 2010, it’s clear that the multi-family boom is hitting the rest of the county and not just Columbus itself. This may actually represent an even greater shift in housing construction. While it appeared that single-family construction was gradually rising since 2011, it once again fell off some in 2015 while multi-family went up. It appears that the new reality is, at least for now, holding steady.

Here’s the % of total chart for the county.

So it’s also clear that the county is seeing most of its construction in recent years be multi-family units.

Cool Link of the Day: Urb-I Urban Ideas

I saw this site mentioned on the CityLab site awhile back and thought it was a very cool idea. The site highlights how cities are transforming public spaces and making car-centric areas much more pedestrian, bike and transit friendly. Since I found the site, I have been lucky enough to become a regular contributor working to help make the site even better. The great thing is that anyone can send in before and after photos from their own cities of public space transformations. Take a look: The site covers cities across the world.

Columbus has several examples that I have added, but the photos are not yet updated on the site’s map. Until they are, here is a sneak peek:

Civic Center Drive

West Town Street

Columbus Commons