In DepthAuthor James Thurber said of his birthplace, “Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen and in which almost everything has.”

Yet Columbus is a city that almost wasn't. When Ohio gained statehood in 1803, it hadn't yet chosen a permanent capital. Political maneuvering almost landed the state government in Zanesville and Chillicothe. In 1812, however, the residents of Franklinton, a county seat in the heart of Ohio along the Scioto River, tempted the state with 1,200 acres of land and a commitment to spend $50,000 to construct a capitol building and a penitentiary. Within a matter of days the general assembly accepted the offer, and Columbus was born on the opposite bank of the river.

The Civil War initiated a wave of unprecedented growth; the population soared and manufacturing and government became the city's primary industries.

The opening in 1873 of Ohio Agriculture and Mechanical College, later renamed The Ohio State University, spawned a new outlook for the city. Education was thrust to the forefront, and the intellectual atmosphere helped contribute to the forerunner of the computer, the development of the xerography process and numerous advancements in the medical treatment of the physically impaired.

Today the phrase “state of the art” is synonymous with Columbus, which ranks with Silicon Valley as a center for scientific and technological information. Ohio's capital built its solid reputation over several decades; it was one of the first cities in the country to offer citywide cable television and introduced such technology as the 24-hour banking machine, interactive cable television and the electronic newspaper. Thousands of high-tech companies, including Battelle Memorial Institute, Mettler-Toledo International and Vertiv, now call Columbus home.

Besides its well-deserved reputation in the high-tech world, the city houses the headquarters of several Fortune 1000 companies, including Aflac, Big Lots, Express, L Brands and Nationwide Insurance. Columbus also is known for retail banking, insurance and real estate, and has emerged as a leading convention city.

Modern-day Columbus continually earns top accolades from highly regarded sources. In 2013 Forbes magazine ranked Columbus as a Top Place for Business and in 2011 as one of the Top 15 Most Affordable Cities to Live; CIO Magazine named it one of the Top 7 Cities for Finding IT Jobs; and Bloomberg Businessweek awarded it the title of Economically Strongest Metro.

The state of the city's visual arts deserves equally high praise. Ohio's capital offers an assortment of art-centered attractions, including the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and the Columbus Museum of Art. The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens cleverly displays thousands of otherworldly glass pieces by artist Dale Chihuly in artfully presented gardens. And the Topiary Park in Old Deaf School Park interprets the 1884 oil painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat with larger-than-life topiary bushes snipped into the shapes of Parisians at leisure near the Seine River.

In addition, colorful murals clothe many of the city's brick walls. A majority of these are in the thriving SoHo-like Short North Arts District, a once-blighted area now filled with independently owned boutiques, many local places to eat and pubs that owes its present-day popularity to citywide revitalization projects begun in the 1980s.

The same efforts resulted in the urban renewal of downtown's Arena District, transformed from its former neglected state to an area brimming with restaurants, shops and nightspots as well as Nationwide Arena, home to the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.

The city's proud residents have lovingly preserved a host of 19th-century homes in Victorian Village and German Village. More examples of Columbus's exquisite architecture include the Greek Revival Ohio Statehouse along with an array of churches, office buildings and homes in Art Deco, Gothic, Italianate and Queen Anne styles.

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Columbus, OH

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.

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Hilton Columbus/Polaris

8700 Lyra Dr. Columbus, OH 43240

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Sponsored Listing

Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Columbus Easton Area

4048 Morse Rd. Columbus, OH 43230

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Members save 5% or more and earn Honors points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Hampton Inn & Suites New Albany Columbus

5220 Forest Dr. New Albany, OH 43054

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Members save 5% to 15% and earn 10% bonus Best Western Rewards® points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Best Western Port Columbus

1450 Airpointe Dr. Columbus, OH 43219

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Travel Information

City Population

787,033

Elevation

777 ft.

Sales Tax

Columbus has a sales tax of 7.5 percent and a lodging tax of 10 percent. There is an 11 percent concession fee on rental cars picked up at Port Columbus International Airport.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(614) 645-4545

Fire (non-emergency)

(614) 221-3132

Time and Temperature

(614) 281-8211

Hospitals

Doctors Hospital, (614) 544-1000; Grant Medical Center, (614) 566-9000; Mount Carmel Medical Center (Mount Carmel West Hospital), (614) 234-5000; The Ohio State University Hospital East, (614) 257-3000; The Ohio State University Medical Center, (614) 293-8300; Riverside Methodist Hospital, (614) 566-5000.

Visitor Information

277 W. Nationwide Blvd. Suite 125 Columbus, OH 43215. Phone:(614)221-6623 or (800)354-2657

Air Travel

Port Columbus International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (614) 239-1084 or (800) 654-3080.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc., (614) 228-2266 or (800) 231-2222, 111 E. Town St. between S. 3rd and S. 4th streets, serves Columbus.

Taxis

Yellow Cab, (614) 444-4444, is the largest cab company. Fixed fares are $3 base rate, $4.50 for the first mile, 45c for each additional 2/9 mile and $2.25 for each mile outside Franklin County. A $3 surcharge is added for fares originating at the airport.

Public Transportation

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) provides bus transportation throughout the city and suburbs Mon.-Fri. 5:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 8-7. The basic fare is $2, express fare is $2.75 and transfers are free. Multiday passes and reduced rates for children and senior citizens are available. Passengers must have exact change.

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