I’ve been in the area for nearly a year now. Technically I live in a small township within the Columbus Sprawl. The area is in some ways dead center in the middle of Columbus. I’m within about 5 to maybe 8 miles from the literal heart of downtown. I’m currently 1 person in a city of nearly 800,000 people. Yet, this city feels smaller and so much worse off than any of the cities I had called home.
To be fair, Fort Myers was the least populated area I have ever lived in at just over 500,000 people and during Snowbird season the population swelled into 600,000’s. Fort Myers is and would be considered rural in many ways. It is a town that disappears and reappears along the interstate. Every ramp off seem to hold the best signs of life, but it was a city that could be said was built around the roads. Interstate 75, US 41, and those roads that served to connect one to the other. Fort Myers was just a blip and for being a cultural wasteland relegated to those who desired to be “Gators…” Yet, Fort Myers was a city still very alive and growing.
Columbus however, is rotting.
It is not the most polite statement. The thing is it is growing and being reclaimed all the same. The area I am in is definitely a poorer area. Hell, it is the ghetto. Not far from here is an area known as Little Mogadishu (it is a insult by many within the white, Christian uprights that are holdouts of an older time.) And about 3 miles from here is the start of the Campus area as well as the rise of another township within the sprawl that is quite beautiful.
Yet throughout, the signs of a city built too rapidly are everywhere. Entire shopping centres are deserted. Stores are boarded up and their windows are darkened with dust. Even the nicer areas like Westerville where I work, feel a little run down or suffering from a lack of foresight. Quite a few different businesses are owned and operated out of regular houses. Some of these houses are exquisite and decrepit with neglect. Compared to Florida, Ohio is hideous.
I hate to sound fond of a place where every facade was constructed to mime a world that isn’t there. Florida is steel, drywall, and lumber expanding wherever the asphalt lies. Cement is the fastest growing crop in the state (going by how much water is dumped upon it versus grass.) For all that cement, steel, and lumber there is an equal amount of spray foam going into art deco facings. Stucco-esque paintings on every wall, which seemed designed to shred anyone pressed against it. But Florida is evolving and changing. No centre sits empty for long. Someone will come along and knock it down for even just a parking lot if need be.
In Ohio the rule seems to stand, leave it. Let it be. So the city falls into disrepair and malignancy. They are still building and growing here. There are beautiful malls, little buildings, hotels, apartments, and restaurants. These things are just assembled seemingly at random, and as time progresses the older sites stand like ruins against a city that forgot them.
My Aunt seems to be the type of individual that best exemplifies the city’s feelings towards this. Her house was built in the 50’s, by my Grandfather. It may have even been built before then. Every plug in the place is out of date. The electrical can’t be trusted, and my Aunt will go so far to unplug her toaster… Yet despite her not being able to trust the electrical she refuses to have it looked at and addressed. The issue has fallen beyond the scope of just upgrading it. It should be replaced, but that would take too much effort. So it shall just be left until there is no choice but to raze it.
Sorry, I would love to make a happy post, but this is something that is eating at me, and frankly… It serves to just upset me further because prices are absurdly unbalanced here. However, that is a rant for another time.
For now, I would like to say, Though progress for the sake of progress is rarely a good idea, resisting progression is just as bad of a concept. On that, Im gonna try to pass out and hope my arm doesnt keep me up at this point. At least it is healing.