Air, Canal and Other Transportation History

This page attempts to list all significant (and maybe not so significant) events related to transportation within Columbus and the greater metro area. This includes all forms of transportation except rail.

**Last Updated: 9/6/2020

Non-Highway Roads and Auto Infrastructure

Lucas Sullivant constructs a wooden bridge at Broad Street across the Scioto River, the first bridge to cross the river. Crossings prior to bridge construction were made by ferry.

The first Broad Street bridge over the Scioto River rots to the point of collapse. A new bridge of similar design is quickly rebuilt.

The 2nd Broad Street bridge is destroyed in a flood.

The National Road is completed through Columbus.

The 3rd Broad Street bridge over the Scioto, a wooden covered bridge, is completed by the US government.

The Broad Street covered bridge, likely in the 1870s.

Columbus posts the names of its streets for the first time at a cost of $528.87.

The first bridge across the Olentangy River, at King Avenue, is completed. It is a steel truss design.

Parts of Broad Street Downtown are surfaced with gravel and broken stone to combat the almost impassible mud that envelops the street during heavy rains. It is the first street in Columbus to have any surface beyond dirt. The cost of the resurfacing is $3 per foot.

The covered Broad Street bridge is replaced again, this time with an iron version.

The Packard Company Service Station opens at 1199 Franklin Avenue. It is considered the first commercial auto repair garage in it the United States.

Sunday, July 30, 1911
High Street between Clintonville and Webster Park is announced to be widened to 30 feet, the same width as High south of Clintonville. The widening is to include a raised drive area for cars that will be even with the surface of the interurban tracks, allowing autos to cross High from one side to the other for the first time.

March 21-25, 1913
An enormous flood destroys the iron Broad Street bridge, along with many others along the Scioto and Olentangy rivers.

A new Broad Street bridge begins construction.

October 31, 1921
“Memorial Bridge”, the 5th Broad Street bridge over the Scioto River, is completed and dedicated at a cost of $628,000. It is a 7-span concrete structure. It is dedicated to WWI veterans.

Alkire Road, on the city’s southwest side, begins construction despite heavy local resident protests. The cost of the 10.3 mile road is $270,844.

Monday, November 2, 1925
Columbus’ new traffic light system is turned on for the first time, and is considered to be the largest such system of any city in the nation at the time.

June 8, 1928
Columbus’ first taxi company, Green Cab Co., begins operations with 6 cars.

Friday, April 1, 1932
Removal of the East Broad parkway begins. In an ironic twist, the first tree removed, an American Elm, is replanted on the west Statehouse lawn as part of Arbor Day.

Saturday, April 2, 1932
George Washington Boulevard, in front of Central High School (now COSI), is dedicated with a ceremony and the planting of more than 150 cherry trees along the riverfront.

Saturday, January 4, 1941
Columbus installs 1,000 parking meters Downtown, the first in the city. The fee is 5 cents per hour 8am-6pm. The city would collect about 10,000 nickles a day from the meters over the next few days.

January, 1947
Senator Evert Addison proposes a bill, sponsored by the Ohio Redevelopment Commission, that would allow municipalities to condemn property and lease it to private companies to create off-street parking lots.

Columbus’ Green Cab Co. becomes United Transportation.

Friday, June 29, 1973
A proposal is made to turn Broad Street through Downtown into a landscaped boulevard. The proposal calls for construction of a 10-foot median strip down the center of Broad between I-71 and 315. The median would include about 70 trees with another 125 along new tree laws on the north and south sides, along with 6000 bushes. The plan also includes a pair of parks at the northeast and southeast corners of Cleveland Avenue and Broad, and on both sides of Broad just west of Veterans Memorial. The price tag for the proposal is $343,000.

It is determined that salt corrosion at the base of the Broad Street bridge makes it unsafe and in need of replacement.

Monday, January 28, 1991
Demolition of the 1921 Broad Street bridge begins.

June, 1992
The “Discovery Bridge”, the most recent Broad Street bridge iteration, is completed.

Bus Transportation

Sunday, July 1, 1973
COTA is officially given permission from the federal Urban Mass Transit Administration to begin taking over Columbus’ bus system operations from the old Columbus Transit Company, with the CTC being absorbed completely by November.

Wednesday, October 27, 1976
The COTA board of trustees approves a contract with Service Products Buildings Inc. to build 50 new bus shelters along several bus routes. The contract is for $131,035.

May, 2017
Columbus’ bus system is redesigned to abandon the long-standing spoke system out of Downtown.

June 1, 2018
COTA begins CPASS, a program for Downtown workers to get free bus ride passes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Insight2050, a public-private partnership, releases its Corridor Concepts report focusing on 5 city corridors for adding high-capacity transit service. The corridors are East Main between Downtown and Reynoldsburg, Cleveland Avenue from Downtown to Polaris Parkway, Downtown to Routes 33/16 at Post Road, Downtown to Rickenbacker along Parsons and Alum Creek Drive, and West Broad from Downtown to Norton Road.

Canal Transportation

Monday, April 30, 1827
Groundbreaking for the Columbus branch of the Ohio Canal occurs, attracting about 1,000 spectators. The groundbreaking is followed by a feast and large ball.

Tuesday, September 13, 1831
Water is let into the Columbus branch of the Ohio Canal for the first time.

Friday, September 23, 1831
The ‘Governor Brown’ becomes the first boat to arrive in Columbus from Circleville on its branch of the Ohio Canal.

September 1, 1859
The first steam-powered boat to arrive in Columbus via its branch of the Ohio Canal is the ‘Enterprise’.

Air Transportation

Monday, November 7, 1910
A plane piloted by Philip Parmalee becomes the world’s first commercial freight flight when it travels from Dayton to Columbus carrying $1,000 worth of silk for retailer Morehouse Martens. The plane lands at Driving Park, on Columbus’ south side after a 66-minute flight that ranged in elevation from 500 to 2,000 feet.

Parmalee with Orville Wright preparing to leave for Columbus.

July 8, 1929
Roughly 3,000 show up for the dedication of Port Columbus airport and the inauguration of transcontinental rail-air service, of which Columbus is the first stop on the Transcontinental Air Transport route.

Thursday, March 20, 1958
A $750,000 federal allocation is approved to help cover the cost of a $2 million, 6,000-foot-long runway at Port Columbus airport. The new runway is meant to double the plane-handling capacity of the terminal.

Tuesday, August 29, 1967
A Navy jet flying into Columbus from Florida makes an emergency landing at Port Columbus. The plane strikes the runway, bounces and then skids about 6,000 feet before erupting in flames. The two pilots eject on impact and one of them is seriously injured.

Tuesday, November 16, 1976
A helicopter crashes at Port Columbus airport after a student pilot loses control after the engine malfunctions at an altitude of about 150 feet.

Other Transportation and Infrastructure

July 4, 1842
A large crowd turns out to see Columbus’ first balloon flight. The flight, piloted by an ‘aeronaut’ from Cincinnati, flies from the Statehouse lawn to about 5 miles east of Newark at a reported altitude as high as 2 miles.

July 4, 1851
Columbus’ second balloon flight is made from Broad and 7th Street and travels about 6 miles.

The Ohio Stage Company ends its business when railroad travel begins to become dominant. It sells much of its equipment, horses and 50 coaches to an Iowa service.

Winter 1899-1900
The first bicycle path known in Franklin County is built on the west side of Cassady Avenue from Broad Street north to the rail yards south of 5th Avenue. It is constructed by the Rarig company for its employees to reach its plant more easily.

February 21, 2018
It is announced that the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) will spend up to $2.5 million on feasibility studies for the Hyperloop shuttle line between Columbus and Chicago.