Columbus was founded specifically for the purpose of being the state capital in 1812, and was selected primarily due to its location - near the center of the state. But a lack of transportation options restricted access to town. For nearly 20 years, the people and economy struggled to survive.
Originally reached by buffalo and "Indian" trails, the tiny town was open to travel by foot, on horseback, and finally by an infrequent stagecoach. Then, in 1830 a feeder canal opened to link Columbus with the Ohio-Erie Canal. The National Road soon followed in 1833, and Central Ohio boomed. The railroads arrived in 1850, and the thriving community never looked back.
Transportation became the engine of development for the city. Columbus became the "Buggy Capital of the World," manufacturing more carriages than any other community in America. Manufacturers of automobiles, railroad cars, streetcars and airplanes all have called Columbus home.
Two-lane and four-lane roads were built, and eventually highways crisscrossed the region. The federal interstate highway system bisected Columbus in the mid-1950s, and provided economic development opportunities for distribution and warehouse projects across Central Ohio.
Today, Columbus is a major transportation and distribution hub for the United States. Nearly 2/3 of the entire population of the nation can be reached within one day from Columbus. The city's transportation history truly laid the foundation for its growth.
Visible from North Bank Park are examples of transportation modes that built this city. State Route 315 loosely follows the historic "Scioto Trail", a buffalo and "Indian" trail. The Broad Street Bridge to the southeast is part of the National Road, and the original track alignments for the first railroads still exist on either side of the park. Much of the Arena District, across Spring and Long Streets, is built on the site of the Columbus Buggy Company, providing increased pedestrian and vehicular access to the park.