Update- Historic Residential Pages

I added a few dozen more houses to the Historic Residential pages, mostly to the Other Residential page. These are some of the site’s most popular pages, so if anyone out there has old photos of homes or neighborhoods around Columbus, I would love to add them! In the meantime, enjoy the more than 325 featured historic homes.

Failed Project #3: The 1984-1985 High Street Road Diet

Believe it or not, 32 years ago and long before the urban revival began in earnest, a paid study of High Street in 1984 by a Barton-Aschman Associates of Washington, DC, made the ahead-of-its-time suggestion of a road diet of High Street through Downtown.  High Street had been studied over and over again since 1972 in order to figure out how to reduce traffic, but this was the most radical one to come out of them all- at least until 2010.

When the 1984 study was released, it contained the following suggestions:
-Reducing High from 6 lanes to 4.
-Restricting traffic to buses, taxis and emergency vehicles Monday-Friday from 7am-6:30PM.
-Rebuilding the street to include pedestrian/bike friendly infrastructure and new landscaping.
-A new transit mall.
The changes would’ve included 11 blocks between Fulton Street and Nationwide Boulevard.

Inexplicably, the $25 million plan was endorsed by just about everyone at first, from the City of Columbus, COTA, local business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders. There was even funding for it, through a mix from COTA and the US Urban Mass Transit Association. The plan was hailed as transformative and was thought to be a plan to create a “world-class” street. At the time, very few cities had done anything like this.

But then what always seems to happen in Columbus… happened again. Slowly, opposition built up. First, city leaders didn’t really like the 30-year commitment required for the transit mall. Then Les Wexner, a prominent and very influential member of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, publicly spoke out against the plan, which gradually convinced more and more to oppose it. It seems no shock that Wexner was opposed to such a forward-thinking urban plan considering that his dream community he would be primarily responsible for exploding- New Albany- largely eschews such concepts even to this day. The final nail however may have been the departure of James Reading, who was the general manager of COTA at the time. Reading would accept a job in Santa Clara, California, and since he was considered the “glue” that held the project together, things fell apart thereafter. Reading’s departure would have a much more widespread impact on Columbus’ transit future than just the High Street project, as he had also been a big proponent of rail transit. Early-mid 1980s proposals to bring rail to the city also largely died after he left, as his replacement shared little to none of Reading’s vision. Instead, his replacement, Richard Simonetta, largely focused on getting COTA’s bus service out of the red instead of spending time and energy on potential transit expansion. It’s hard to speculate what could’ve been, but there is a distinct possibility that High Street and transit would be very different in Columbus had Reading stayed in the city. Santa Clara today has more than 80 bus lines, 3 light rail lines and is building a dedicated-lane BRT system.

In any case, the Chamber of Commerce officially pulled support for the High project in July 1985. No alternative plan existed at the time, and for the next few years the city struggled to come up with something else with little to show for it. Ultimately, High Street pretty much stayed as it was. It was not until 2010 that the road diet idea would show up again, but this was focused more for Broad Street than High. The diet plan was officially adopted in 2012, but as of this writing, there has been no movement on the project.

Broad Street road diet as imagined in the 2010 Downtown Strategic Plan.

Take a look at other failed projects here:
Gay/Front Office Tower
Big Darby Creek Reservoirs
Ohio’s Atom Collider

Random Columbus Photos #3

Photo Date: November 1, 1914
Location: 136 E. Broad Street

The photo shows the ongoing excavation of the Columbus Athletic Club. It was conceived a few years prior as a social club in 1912 by a group of wealthy Columbus businessmen. The organization was originally housed in the Atlas Building at Gay and High, but wanted their own building. Construction began in early 1914 and the 6-story building was dedicated in 1915. The 100-year-old institution, now on the National Register of Historic Places, looks pretty much the same as it did when it was first built, and it remains a private club to this day. Over the years, the club has had many prominent members, including politicians and even a president, Warren G. Harding.

Worst Winters of All Time?

As summer slowly approaches its inevitable end, thoughts of winter have started to creep into our minds. The last two winters seemed particularly harsh, and questions were often asked as to their historic status as well as whether another bad winter was on the way. Ask any older person in Ohio, and the winters between 1976 and 1979 will often come up. But do they really deserve their reputations? To find out, I came up with a ranking system for meteorological winter only- December through February. Here was the criteria:

Temperature: # of 32 or Below Highs, # of 32 or Below Lows, # of 0 or Below Highs, # of 0 or Below Lows: Each earned the winter a point for each day that featured these conditions.
# of 60 or Above Highs and # of 50 or Above Lows meant a point was removed for each occurrence.

Precipitation: # of Days with Measurable Snowfall, # of 1″+ Snow Days, # of 2.5″+ Snow Days, # of 5″+ Snow Days, # of 10″+ Snow Days as well as # of Measurable Precipitation Days all counted as 1 point for each occurrence.

I then added the temperature and precipitation points together to come up with a ranking for how miserable each winter really was.

Here are the 30 worst winters of all time and their total points.

1. 1976-1977: 240
2. 1977-1978: 238
3. 1969-1970: 230
4. 2002-2003: 228
5. 1978-1979: 226
6. 1880-1881: 225
7. 1917-1918: 223
8. 1935-1936: 220
9. 2013-2014: 219
10. 1892-1893, 1962-1963: 218
11. 1909-1910: 217
12. 1995-1996, 2009-2010: 208
13. 2010-2011: 207
14. 1903-1904: 204
15. 1981-1982: 202
16. 1911-1912, 1963-1964: 197
17. 1886-1887, 1919-1920: 196
18. 1904-1905: 195
19. 1984-1985: 194
20. 1916-1917: 193
21. 1894-1895: 191
22. 1883-1884: 189
23. 2000-2001: 188
24. 1947-1948, 1961-1962: 187
25. 1993-1994: 186
26. 1884-1885, 1939-1940: 185
27. 1983-1984, 1987-1988: 183
28. 1902-1903, 2014-2015: 182
29. 1954-1955: 180
30. 1878-1879, 1882-1883, 1960-1961, 1985-1986, 2003-2004, 2008-2009: 179

Do any of these surprise you? Both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are in the top 30 worst, but only 2013-2014 is in the top 10. In fact, other recent winters like 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 are all ranked worse than last winter. There have been a surprising number of recent winters in the top 30, however. There have been 8 total since 2000. No other similar time frame has produced as many.

And here are the 30 best winters (if you like warm, snowless, dry winters, that is).

1. 1931-1932: 74
2. 1889-1890: 75
3. 1879-1880: 86
4. 1997-1998: 102
5. 1881-1882, 1943-1944: 111
6. 2001-2002: 112
7. 1996-1997: 115
8. 1948-1949, 1953-1954: 118
9. 1941-1942, 1982-1983: 120
10. 1918-1919: 122
11. 1936-1937: 123
12. 1932-1933, 1991-1992: 124
13. 1930-1931: 125
14. 1905-1906, 1972-1973: 126
15. 1949-1950: 128
16. 1897-1898, 1986-1987: 129
17. 2011-2012: 130
18. 1938-1939: 131
19. 1937-1938: 134
20. 1908-1909, 1920-1921, 2005-2006: 135
21. 1924-1925: 137
22. 1896-1897: 138
23. 1927-1928, 1929-1930, 1940-1941, 1990-1991: 139
24. 1952-1953: 140
25. 1921-1922, 1945-1946, 1998-1999: 141
26. 1988-1989: 143
27. 1891-1892: 144
28. 1946-1947, 1971-1972: 145
29. 1912-1913, 1934-1935: 147
30. 1923-1924, 1992-1993: 148

Look how many of the warmest/least snowy occur between 1920 and 1945. Historically, this period had the fewest number of cold and/or snowy winters on record of any such 25-year period.

And what about winter 2015-2016? Well, that remains to be seen. However, the developing strong El Nino suggests a warmer than average winter. However, factors such as its position (west or east-based) as well as the PDO could throw some wrenches into that standard El Nino forecast. Either way, it will likely not be a top 30 worst.

Winter 2014-2015: A Look Back- November 2014

While it’s still possible to get snow into April, winter is essentially over for one more year. For the second year in a row, winter was colder and snowier than normal, so let’s look at the monthly play-by-play as well as the final stats.

November 2014
First, a reminder of November normals.
High: 52.6
Low: 36.1
Mean: 44.4
Precipitation: 3.20″
Snowfall: 0.9″
Snow Depth: 0.0″

November 2014 Average High: 45.7
1878-2014 Ranking: 10th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.9

November 2014 Average Low: 30.0
1878-2014 Ranking: 6th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.1

November 2014 Mean Temperature: 37.8
1878-2014 Ranking: 7th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.6

Coldest November 2014 High: 19 on the 18th
1878-2014 Ranking: 5th Coldest
The 19 recorded on the 18th was the record coldest high ever recorded for the date, beating the previous 1903 record by a full 7 degrees!
Other near record low highs:
33 on the 17th. 3rd coldest daily high for the date.
27 on the 21st. 3rd coldest daily high for the date.

Coldest November 2014 Low: 12 on the 18th.
1878-2014 Ranking: 8th Coldest
The 12 recorded on the 18th was the 2nd coldest low ever recorded for the date.
Other near record lows:
13 on the 19th. 2nd coldest low for the date.
14 on the 21st. 2nd coldest low for the date.

Number of Highs 32 Degrees or Below: 4
1878-2014 Rank: 5th Highest

Number of Lows 32 Degrees or Below: 19
1878-2014 Rank: 4th Highest

November 2014 was clearly very cold historically, coming in as a top 10 coldest ever.

The month overall was rather dry, with just 1.46″ of precipitation, which was 1.74″ below normal. This was the 22nd driest November since 1878.

November 2014 Precipitation Days: 20
1″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 0
0.5″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 0
0.25″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 3

Snowfall, despite the dry month, came in at a bit above normal, at 4.1″. Still, this was the 15th snowiest November on record, as the graph shows.

Greatest November 2014 Daily Snowfall: 3.8″ on the 17th.
1878-2014 Rank: 10th Greatest
The 3.8″ on the 17th was also the 2nd highest total for the date.

Snowfall Days: 9
1″+ Snowfall Days: 1
2.5″+ Snowfall Days: 1
5″+ Snowfall Days: 0

Greatest Daily Snow Depth: 3″ on the 18th and 19th.
Average Monthly Snow Depth: 0.4″