Creating Columbus: 1974-1985

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

By
From the February 2, 2012 edition

1974

“The Nite Owl” perches on WBNS

Fritz Peerenboom begins hosting live late-night movie programs. The velvet-voiced star with the trademark glasses ad-libs comments and soon interacts with films through hilariously primitive effects.

1975

Olde Towne East hosts a flea market

An informal street sale soon grows into the Hot Times Community Music & Arts Festival — a signature event of the neighborhood and one of the city’s largest independent cultural celebrations.

1975

Tony Monaco gets a call from Jimmy Smith

On his 16th birthday, the young Columbus organist gets an encouraging phone call from jazz legend Jimmy Smith, who becomes his mentor and friend. Four years later, Smith invites Monaco to play at his club in California.

1975

Crews finish final segment of I-270

The Outerbelt is buckled Aug. 20 near Gahanna. The project increases mobility among suburbs but also saps attention and energy from the urban core. Its entire length is about 55 miles.

1976

U.S. government announces tax break to restore historic buildings

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program gives commercial and residential builders a 20-percent tax break for rehab projects. Between 1980 and 1987, incentives prompt $40 million worth of rehabilitation in Columbus. Short North developer Sanborn “Sandy” Wood later says of the program: “If it were not for the substantial boost that preservation tax incentives provide, I would be unable to complete many of my projects.”

1976

Golfers tee off in first Memorial Tournament

The venerable tourney begins two years to the day after Jack Nicklaus opened Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin. Roger Maltbie beats Hale Irwin in a playoff to win the first title and $40,000.

1977

Clippers game offers hot dogs for 10 cents apiece

On May 23, early in the Columbus Clippers’ inaugural season, 3,751 fans are offered baseball’s trademark treat for a dime. The promotion, later christened Dime-a-Dog Night, becomes an institution.

1978

Myke Rock goes Nowhere Fest

Rock and his punk band Screaming Urge organize a shindig to provide a venue for alternative music. He’s frustrated by a lack of clubs and bars that support live, local music. Willie Phoenix, Greenhorn, Gaunt and others rock out over the years.

1978

Wayne Soulant helms Ballet Metropolitan

Coming to Columbus from the Norwegian National Ballet, Soulant transforms the ballet into a major arts institution with an increased budget and headquarters at 78 Jefferson Ave.

1979

Elvis Costello gets into brawl at Holiday Inn

The 24-year-old British rock star makes racist comments that cause Bonnie Bramlett, a backup singer for Stephen Stills, to slap him across the face. Crews for both musicians go at it until a bartender breaks up the melee.

1980

The Columbus Dispatch publishes country’s first online newspaper

The paper tests the new CompuServe dial-up service by beaming news to home computers at 300 words per minute. Users pay $5 per hour for the service, billed in one-minute increments.

1981

Gay men protest discrimination

A march for gay rights occurred in Columbus in 1973, but the movement gains considerably more steam eight years later, when several gay men disgusted with unfair treatment walk in protest down High Street. The annual Pride parade and Stonewall Columbus are founded this year.

1981

Red, White & Boom explodes

About 30,000 people gather along a Downtown stretch of the Scioto River to watch the city’s new fireworks display. As it grows in size and reputation, the event starts to draw as many as 500,000 viewers each year.

1982

Jeff Smith draws cartoons for “The Lantern”

The Ohio State student publishes a comic strip called “Thorn.” These clever tales morph into the “Bone” series, which wins numerous awards and makes Smith a living legend in his field.

1982

Wood Companies founded

Sanborn “Sandy” Wood fixes up several Victorian Village houses en route to opening his real-estate development company. Wood’s renovation projects in the Short North — the 600 block of North High Street and a school on West First Avenue, for example — play an integral role in the neighborhood’s transformation.

1983

Great Plains release debut EP

Powered by the creative energy of Ron House and Matt and Mark Wyatt, the band develops into a major influence on Midwestern indie rock upon releasing “The Mark, Don & Mel E.P.” House continues to impact regional sounds through outfits like Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and Psandwich.

1983

Mike Harden joins staff of The Columbus Dispatch

Through insightful commentary and fictional alter-ego Aunt Gracie, Harden becomes a favorite writer and treasured community member. Regular columns appear until his death on Oct. 13, 2010.

1983

Downtown Alive! debuts

The premiere issue of a new alt weekly appears Nov. 20. It eventually morphs into the fine periodical you’re now holding.

1984

Short North hosts first Gallery Hop

A handful of shops and art dealers around Lincoln Street decide to try something new to attract customers. On the first Saturday in October, they synchronize exhibit openings, stay open late and have a party. The city’s most beloved arts tradition is born.

1985

Ray Hanley takes the reins at GCAC

Outspoken, tenacious and controversial, Hanley soon makes an indelible mark as president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

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