Upper Arlington, Streetcar Suburb


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Upper Arlington, Streetcar Suburb

  1. 1. Upper Arlington, OhioThe picturesque vision of Ben and King Thompson
  2. 2. BACKGROUND Columbus is seated in the center of Ohio. Since this was an ideal location to establish a capital, plans for a state Capitol building were developed in 1812. The building was erected at the corner of Broad and High Streets, which today is considered to be the center of town. In 1863, Columbus’ first horse-drawn streetcar ran along High Street. After the Civil War, Columbus buggy production was a significant business in the city. Additionally, streetcar lines became an integral form of transportation Google map image throughout the city. Electric streetcars appeared in 1888 and, because of their speed and cleanliness, this became the preferred mode of streetcar travel. In 1910, strife hit Columbus when a streetcar strike threatened to disable the city. Desiring higher wages and union recognition, the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees (AASERE) held a strike against the Columbus Railway and Light Company. The strike lasted for ten weeks, beginning at the end of April 1910. Twenty-four streetcars were destroyed and unrest necessitated intervention from the National Guard. Although peace was restored in July, the strike lasted into October of the same year.from Columbus Metropolitan Library digital collection Upper Arlington, Ohio 1
  3. 3. 1872 birds-eye view of Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio State Capitol sits in the middle of the city, east of the Scioto River.from Columbus Metropolitan Library digital collection Upper Arlington, Ohio 2
  4. 4. “Permit to Walk” from The Columbus Walking Clubfrom Columbus Metropolitan Library digital collection Upper Arlington, Ohio 3
  5. 5. Originally named the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University was established in 1870. The university is located to the east of Upper Arlington. Despite the adjacency of the university to Upper Arlington, no streetcar directly connected the two areas. Instead, a rider destined for The Ohio State University from Upper Arlington would have had to travel south and east to Columbus, and then transfer lines to head north. Free rides available during strikeColumbus Metropolitan Library digital collection Streetcar damaged during 1910 strikeColumbus Metropolitan Library digital collection Section of 1927 streetcar map showing Upper Arlington and Ohio State University Aerial photo of Ohio State circa 1911 Upper Arlington, Ohio 4
  6. 6. BEGINNINGS Upper Arlington—initially designated the Country Club District—was the vision of two brothers—Ben and King Thompson. The Thompsons had experience with real estate development in other areas around the city and envisioned a high- class residential area, similar to the Country Club development that was growing in Kansas City. The Thompsons knew, from previous experience, that they would need a large area of land in order for their endeavor to be successful. After finding land that was suitable for their dream, in 1913, they secured and purchased over 800 acres of farmland from James Miller. King G. Thompsonfrom “The History of Upper Arlington” For several reasons, the Miller land was a splendid location for a new residential area. In common real estate parlance of today, the most important need met was, “location, location, location.” The farmland was located upriver and on higher ground, and was in close proximity to both Columbus and The Ohio State University. This adjacency provided access to established services of those two areas, including transportation to and from downtown. Streetcar service extended to the southern edge of what was to be the Country Club District. Further, this area was located west of the city and therefore did not have factory pollution blowing toward it. The air of this residential area would be, “pure and free from contaminations usual in cities.” Ben Thompsonfrom “The History of Upper Arlington” Upper Arlington, Ohio 5
  7. 7. Landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr. developed the plan for the Country Club District. Pitkin envisioned the development as apicturesque plan that made use of the natural curving landscape, similar to that designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and CalvertVaux at Riverside, Illinois. Like Riverside, the curving street plan of the Country Club District created parks at intersections. Thiscan be seen at Triangle Park, formed at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and Cambridge Boulevard. As a landscapearchitect, Pitkin was concerned with the use of the natural terrain and landscape features for the siting of homes. In an articlepublished in a 1920 issue of “Architecture” he addresses the importance of teaming architect with landscape architect in thedesign and siting of residences. Original Pitkin plan for Upper Arlington from early edition of the “Nortwester” Upper Arlington, Ohio 6
  8. 8. The first six homes in the Country Club District were completed in 1915. Five of these homes were located along the first streets of the development, either one street east or one street west of the Arlington Avenue streetcar stop. The street to the east—Cambridge Avenue—was given a stone entryway to signify entrance into the development. Designed in historical styles, the homes were set back from the street (no less than sixty feet) on the deep lots. This allowed for significant interstitial space, which gave a sense of privacy to the residents. Additionally, this large space, along 1634 Cambridge Boulevard Owned by Edward Amos, insurance Manager. with the tree-lined buffer between street and lot, created a park-like setting in UA Archives the midst of the residential area. An early visualization of the plan shows tree- lined streets and sidewalks. Without transportation sources or homes in the image, this vision gave the idea of an idyllic park to potential residents. The imagery of a quiet, park setting was in contrast to many residential areas in Columbus, where homes sat at the front of lots, close to the street. Additionally, downtown plans sat homes close to each other, perhaps increasing a sense of community, but missing the element of familial privacy. 1740 Roxbury Road Owned by H.W. Carmack, District Manager forcoffee manufacturing company. During the CampWillis months, the family needed a military pass to enter. Upper Arlington, Ohio 7 UA Archives
  9. 9. 1918 advertising imagery for the new Country Club District. Upper Arlington, Ohio 8
  10. 10. Triangle Park UA Archives First house finished in Upper Arlington at 1722 Bedford Road from “The History of Upper Arlington”1921 Sanborn Map showing Triangle Park (previously known as Bedford Park) and thefirst home finished in Upper Arlington. Upper Arlington, Ohio 9
  11. 11. Street section at Cambridge Boulevard. Homes are set back from the street, with a 21’ interstitial space. Lot width allows comfortable distancebetween homes; each lot is like an individual park. Upper Arlington, Ohio 10
  12. 12. 1920s home in downtown Columbus, with short setback1921 Sanborn Map of residential area in downtown Columbus. Dwellings didnot have the spacious setbacks found in Upper Arlington. Upper Arlington, Ohio 11
  13. 13. Entrance to Upper Arlington at Cambridge Boulevard in 1915 UA Archives Entrance to Upper Arlington at Cambridge Boulevard in 1918 UA ArchivesUpper Arlington, Ohio 12
  14. 14. An appropriate neighbor of the Country Club District, the Scioto Country Club opened in 1916. However, that same year, growth ofthe district was stalled when the National Guard began to use the land. Called Camp Willis, the area was used as training grounds for8,000 servicemen. When the camp was removed later in the year, residential development began again. In 1918, now known asUpper Arlington, the development was incorporated into a village.Upper Arlington had restrictive covenants that disallowed blacks (other than servants) to live in the area. Additionally, Jewishindividuals were not permitted to purchase homes there. A circa 1919 advertisement asserted that Upper Arlington was the “largestrestricted residential district of Columbus.” The same advertisement boasts of the incorporation, free schools, the best plans forparks and development, and “better auto and street car facilities than any other.” Section of brochure c.1917 Advertisement c.1919 from “The History of Upper Arlington” from “The History of Upper Arlington” Upper Arlington, Ohio 13
  15. 15. PROGRESS In the 1920s, the park-like setting took on characteristics of a village when the Pitkin plan was altered to allow for “the mallway.” The Mall provided an essential area for businesses. Also in the 1920s, apartments, which were not previously allowed, were built and the streetcar line was extended into Upper Arlington. While the specific stops are unknown, the path of the1927 aerial photo of mallway and school streetcar went past the business mallway and turned on a nearby street that From “The History of Upper Arlington” held several apartment buildings. Not far from here, a group of smaller homes were built in the early 1920s as well. This decade was a period of rapid growth for Upper Arlington. Of course, growth slowed, almost to a halt, after the stock market crash of 1929. The streetcar (Arlington line) that served Upper Arlington discontinued service in 1936.Apartment house near mallway in 1927from “Images of American: Upper Arlington” Shops at Arlington Avenue c.1935 from “Images of American: Upper Arlington Upper Arlington, Ohio 14
  16. 16. Miller Park streetcar stop UA Archives Aerial view of Miller Park in 1939 (post-streetcar). from “The History of Upper Arlington”Plan of Upper Arlington along the streetcar line. The Miller Park stopwas at the eastern corner of the park (open diamond shaped space inthe middle of the plan). To the north is the mallway, withshopping, businesses, school, and pool. Upper Arlington, Ohio 15
  17. 17. Early growth in Upper Arlington, which became a city in 1941, can be seen through the development of public services. Education, for example, was seen as an amenity of high importance to the Thompson brothers. In 1917, King Thompson opened a school in a basement playroom of his home. As enrollment grew, buildings designed for the purposes of use as schools were constructed. The first of these was made out of wood leftover from Camp Willis. Finally, in 1924, a permanent school building was constructed next to the Mall. Originally housing all students, the building was later used as Upper Arlington High School. Currently, the 1924 building (and additions) Upper Arlington High School c.1930s serves as a Middle School. from “History of Upper Arlington” Next to the school was the first public pool, the Devon Road pool, which opened in 1928. This was a valued amenity to many Upper Arlington children. With such a central location, children of Upper Arlington were able to go to the school, pool, or shops without walking far. As in many cities across the United States, there was significant growth in Upper Arlington after World War II. Between 1939 and 1950, the population tripled. Similar to the general housing trend of the post-war era, homes inDevon Road pool – first public pool c. 1929 these new areas were constructed on streets that were laid out in a grid. from “The History of Upper Arlington” Additionally, similar to those found in areas such as Levittown, New York, Upper Arlington, Ohio 16
  18. 18. they were designed as smaller “Cape Cod” single-story homes. Later, in the 1960s, new homes in Upper Arlington were again built as larger residences on picturesque lots. The difference however, almost fifty years after the inception of the development, was that the home design did not retain elements of historicism, but instead took on more modern styles. Growth of Upper Arlington was always carefully considered. Now ten square miles in size, annexation opportunities were thoroughly evaluated withStreet grid in Upper Arlington, area developed post-WWII from Google Maps regard to the cost that would be incurred in ensuring streets and utilities were up to Upper Arlington standards. In the 1970s, it was decided that the city would not expand beyond current size. This high level of standards for the city is one factor that continues to make Upper Arlington a desirable neighborhood. As is written on the Upper Arlington website today, Over the decades, the community has often been a leader in setting the standard for quality of life expectations. The City boasts an extensive and well-used network of community parks with a rich variety of active and passive recreational opportunities. Community gatherings and celebrations are the standard not the exception here, including a resident-driven 2314 Woodstock – post-WWII era UA home from Google Maps Fourth of July parade and festival, the regions premier one-day arts festival, summer concerts and more. Upper Arlington, Ohio 17
  19. 19. Long gone are the days of the streetcars, now replaced by buses and automobiles, but Upper Arlington has retained much of its original charm. The homes built in the 1900s have had additions, and trees have grown large and beautiful. The parks and public areas have been enhanced and are popular destinations for residents. New shopping areas have opened and old ones maintain their charm. Upper Arlington may have grown beyond the vision of Ben and King Thompson, but their plan was effective for providing a picturesque, attractive place for living. Upper Arlington cartoon c.1941 from “The History of Upper Arlington”Upper Arlington, Ohio 18