The Arch City
In the 19th Century, a city’s nickname was not only well-defined but it was widely known and used. If someone mentioned “the Twin Cities,” it was understood that they meant Minneapolis and St. Paul. Mentioning “the Big Apple” was clearly a reference to New York City. It was more in fashion then that it is now but, in those days, Columbus was well known as “The Arch City.”
Most of the locals in Columbus are used to the street-spanning metal arches that line the Short North, West Broad, and a few other locations around the city. Even today with the skyline growing higher and higher above the streets, these arches are quite a sight to see when they’re all lit up at night. It gives a very unique atmosphere to the bustling streets and sidewalks of neighborhoods like ours in the Short North.
The history of these arches is just as fascinating. After the Civil War, Ohio had more Union Army veterans than any other state in the Union and they all belonged to the big veteran organization, the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1888, this organization decided to host their annual encampment in Columbus which meant more than 250,000 people flocked to the city, which then only boasted a population of about 90,000 people. That would be like 3 million people coming to Columbus today with the intention of staying a few days.
To support this influx of visitors who camped in big tent cities near the downtown, Columbus erected these massive wooden arches over the streets to hang gas lamps. The entire army marched down the streets of Columbus that year, all 90,000 passing beneath these glowing arches. It was an iconic moment for Columbus and the nation as a whole and left an afterglow on the spirit of the city.
Later, as electric streetcars became more popular for transportation, the Columbus Railway, Power, and Light Company turned these arches toward the purpose of supporting the electric wires that powered these streetcars. It transformed Columbus into the City of Arches and it carries the Arch City nickname into today.
Our vision for opening the Arch City Tavern was to create a place as iconic and memorable to the experience of Columbus as the arches that line the Short North. So far we’re one of the most popular tourist destinations in Columbus and the locals love us just as much. We must have captured the spirit of the arches just right.