Creating Columbus: 1896-1918

200 Arts and Cultural Moments that Shaped the City’s History

By
From the February 2, 2012 edition

1896

Teresa Marzetti starts cooking

The young Italian immigrant opens Marzetti’s near Ohio State. It moves to Gay Street, then to 16 E. Broad St. Customers increasingly clamor for her homemade slaw and salad dressings, which become the company’s focus.

1896

Southern Theatre opens

The performance space debuts Sept. 21 as part of a hotel-and-theater complex along East Main Street. Designed for touring theater, the Southern also accommodates silent films, vaudeville, country bands and community events.

1897

Ringside Cafe opens

The small restaurant and pub pops up at 19 N. Pearl St. It survives by serving cold beer and burgers named after boxers.

1897

Columbus gets a proper train station

Union Station, a Daniel Burnham design, opens at the north end of Downtown. The complex survives until Oct. 22, 1976, when a group wishing to build a convention center on the site begins to demolish its stately arcade. Local preservationists call the event the “Friday Night Massacre.” Passenger train service in Columbus ends Sept. 30, 1979.

1899

Dusenbury brothers take over Olentangy Park

William and Joseph Dusenbury buy roughly 100 acres of quiet picnic land near West Kelso Road and North High Street. The brothers add rollercoasters, a Japanese garden, bowling alleys and a large swimming pool. The legendary amusement park survives until 1937.

1901

William Sydney Porter becomes O. Henry

Porter serves three years in the Ohio Penitentiary for embezzlement charges and writes at least 14 short stories. After his release in 1901, Porter travels to New York and becomes an internationally renowned writer.

1902

School of Commerce founded

A YMCA sponsorship funds a new institution aimed at educating students in financial fields. In 1923, the school — which we now know as Franklin University — holds its first formal commencement with a graduating class of 24.

1904

Alice Schille leaves France

After her European study, the Columbus-born painter returns home and begins teaching at the Art School. Schille, who gains international recognition for her watercolors, teaches there for nearly 40 years.

1905

Columbus Driving Park hosts world’s first 24-hour race

Located on the city’s South Side, the facility had gained fame as a horse course before allowing auto races. Roughly 18 years before the first endurance race at Le Mans, three drivers compete in a full-day race on Driving Park’s dirt track.

1908

Howard Thurston makes a woman disappear

The Columbus-born magician amazes audiences at the High Street Theater with “The Wonder Show of the Universe.” Often besting primary rival Harry Houdini throughout his career, Thurston’s named history’s top magician in the November 1994 issue of conjuring magazine Genii.

1909

Local graduates form the Columbus Art Students League

Forty students from the Columbus Art School begin to organize artists whose work is geared toward “mutual and public benefit.” The group later becomes the Ohio Art League.

1909

Anti-Saloon League relocates to Westerville

The headquarters of the American Issue Publishing Company move to the area north of Columbus. From there, the propaganda arm of the temperance league prints and distributes 40 tons of anti-alcohol material every month.

1910

Columbus Recreation & Parks Department founded

The Young Ladies Playground Association persuades city officials to set up a department in charge of urban natural resources. The new department starts with a $6,000 operating budget.

1912

Phillip’s Coney Island serves first hot dog

Greek immigrant Phillip Manus makes his way from New York City to Columbus and sets up a shop that specializes in hot dogs. (Nathan’s Famous doesn’t open on Coney Island until 1916.)

1912

Automobiles fuel up at first filling station

On June 1, amid protests from neighbors, H.S. Hollingsworth opens what is believed to be the city’s first gas station. It’s located in a sheet-metal shack at Oak and Young streets.

Circa 1914-1918

The Columbus Evening Dispatch broadcasts news from its roof

To keep readers abreast of war-time events, the newspaper wires a typewriter to electric lights that display news from the top of its building. It’s an early version of the news ticker.

1915

Anna Pavlova performs “The Dying Swan”

A principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes, Pavlova performs her trademark solo work Jan. 13 at the Southern Theatre. She’s considered one of history’s finest classical ballerinas.

1917

“The Star-Spangled Banner” plays before baseball game at Neil Park

A patriotic pre-game show ends with the song, and a tradition begins. Eventually the national anthem is blared before every major sporting event.

1917

City of Columbus gives women right to vote

Three years before women’s suffrage is granted nationally by the 19th Amendment, Columbus officials change municipal charters to allow women to vote in local elections.

1918

Anti-German sentiments infiltrate Columbus

American involvement in World War I causes widespread distrust of Germans, many of whom live south of Downtown. German books are burned. Schiller Street is renamed Whittier Street, and Schiller Park is known for a time as Washington Park.

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