Situated on the southern end of downtown Columbus, German Village is one of the most atmospheric neighborhoods in the Midwest. Originally built by German settlers in the mid-1800s, the lovingly restored brick houses, shops, streets and sidewalks are full of historic charm and modern swank. Once you get there with a short walk or drive from downtown, the CBUS circulator or CoGo Bike Share, you will want to explore the neighborhood on foot. Immediately west of German Village, primarily oriented along High and Front Streets, is the Brewery District. Originally built by the same German settlers, this was an industrial hub of the city’s historic beer scene, and is now full of lively entertainment and dining options like Arepazo Tapas and Wine, South American-inspired cuisine with brick walls and wooden tables.
German Village was settled in the early-to-mid-19th century by a large number of German immigrants, who at one time comprised as much as a third of the city’s entire population. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in December, 1974, becoming the list’s largest privately funded preservation district, and in 2007, was made a Preserve America Community by the White House. In November, 1980, its boundaries increased, and today it is one of the world’s premier historic restorations.
By 1830, massive German immigration to the city had occurred. The most influential German newspaper in 1843 was Der Westbote. Many would serve in the American Civil War, thus gaining the universal respect of the local citizens. By 1865, one-third of Columbus’s population was German and the community was flourishing. They built up the local neighborhood, including many businesses, such as Hessenauer Jewelers and Lazarus Department Stores, schools, and churches, such as the Ohio-historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church, built in 1865 and adorned with a 197-foot steeple in 1893. German-American George J. Karb became mayor of the city, twice, at the end of the 19th century and again in the early 20th century.
During the early 20th century, the south end saw newcomers from Eastern Europe aside from German immigrants, resulting in brother neighborhoods such as the Hungarian Village. The local schools the German immigrants constructed and managed were so superior that English-speaking residents of Columbus chose to attend them, such as one that once stood at Fulton Street east of S. Fourth Street. Concerned citizens managed to save its historic architecture from demolition in the 1960s by lobbying for a local commission, the German Village Commission, to have power over external changes made to buildings and by getting the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. As at 2009, the German Village Society has over 1,000 preservationists who maintain the historic quality of the buildings and neighborhood, and German Village is considered one of the most desirable areas to live in the city.
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