Located just north of downtown Columbus area and stretching south to the University District and Ohio State University, the Short North is one of the city’s most well-known neighborhoods. The convention center and the Nationwide Arena district are within walking distance to the south. During its monthly “Gallery Hop” and other neighborhood and downtown events, the Short North sees a significant influx of pedestrians.
The Short North is most commonly described as hip, vibrant, and unique. Coffee shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants may be found among the many art galleries and specialty stores in the area. Traditional stores along High Street, and ancient apartment buildings, row houses, and newer condominium developments fill the adjacent blocks. All of these structures are made of brick and were constructed at some point in the early 20th century. To recreate the look of the early 20th-century arches that formerly lined High Street in the Short North, the city built 17 new ones out of metal and strung lights down the street. Numerous gay- and lesbian-friendly establishments, including the annual Columbus Gay Pride Parade, can be found in this region.
The term “Short North” originated in the slang of the local police force during a time of economic and physical decline, when the area was perceived as being “just short” of the north end of the central business district by suburban commuters. The Short North has evolved from its squatter’s beginnings in the 1980s to become an area known for its diversity and artistic, bohemian vibe, which has led to a steady increase in land values and local rents. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, wealthy Columbus residents followed the economic boom outward, into the suburbs, leading to the neighborhood’s long-term decline and the emergence of latent, street-level crime and gang violence.
In the 1980s, the neighborhood’s renaissance really got going when galleries opened up and business took off. “It was one of those districts that artists want to go into because of the possibilities there,” said PM gallery owner and art historian Maria Gallowy, who is also proud of the gallery’s history as the oldest in the Short North. In 1984, two galleries in the Short North region, PM Gallery and Art Reach, began unveiling new shows on the first Saturday of every month to promote each other’s businesses and bring the neighborhood closer together. This haphazard arrangement eventually morphed into the Gallery Hop, which is held regularly on the first Saturday of each month. Nowadays, during the Gallery Hop, most shops stay open late, the streets get crowded, and the sidewalks host a variety of street entertainers.