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The Village of Upper Arlington
Upper Arlington was founded by brothers King and Ben Thompson, who purchased the original 840 acres from James Miller in 1913. Inspired by the Country Club development in Kansas City, King Thompson envisioned an idealistic residential community for Columbus. Conveniently located close to the City of Columbus, two streetcars provided easy access to the city, one running to the intersection of Fifth and Arlington avenues and the other ending at Fishinger Road, just north of Griggs Dam. The site also enjoyed westerly winds, shielding residents from the fumes of Columbus’ factories.
Originally, King Thompson planned to call the area the Country Club District, however, by 1917, the community had taken on a different name. Marble Cliff, located immediately to the south, was named Arlington at that time, leading to the term Upper Arlington, which soon gained in popularity and inevitably stuck.
The Upper Arlington Company, formed by Thompson, soon began development using the Pitkin Plan. Pitkin was a prominent architect in New York state, who developed a plan that encouraged the development of curving streets featuring an abundance of trees, rather than following the grid-like patterns used in Columbus. The Pitkin Plan is what gives the historic district of Upper Arlington its distinct appearance.
Development was temporarily halted in 1916 when 8,000 National Guard troops used the site as a training camp, destroying much of the initial work of the Upper Arlington Company. Work soon resumed, however, and the village of Upper Arlington was incorporated in March 1918, with a population of 20. James Miller served as the village’s first mayor.
Adjustments were made to the Pitkin Plan to make way for the Mallway business district in the 1920s. Offices for professionals and retail businesses were built along Arlington Avenue during this period.
The population of Upper Arlington reached 3,059 by 1939. Following World War II, many returning servicemen and their families made the suburban areas of Columbus their homes, including Upper Arlington. By 1950, Upper Arlington had more than 9,000 residents. Steady growth in the coming years raised the population level to 38,000 by 1970, the City’s peak. In 2000, the U.S. Census population estimate was 33,686.
Over the years, as the population grew, Upper Arlington annexed surrounding land to reach its current boundaries of 9.67 square miles.
The village became a city in 1941 and was chartered in 1956 with the council/manager form of government that exists today.
Lovingly compiled by 29 volunteer authors for the Upper Arlington Historical Society, “A History of Upper Arlington” provides a comprehensive overview of the development of this fine community. Copies are available for $10, from the Parks & Recreation Department, 3600 Tremont Road.
Upper Arlington Historical Society
1901 Arlington Avenue
Upper Arlington, Ohio 43212