In the early 18th century, the region in which Columbus is now found was populated primarily by Native Americans and by Europeans intending to capitalize on the fur trade. However, in the middle of that century, it came to be a central point in world affairs when a conflict between British and French forces over control of the area provided a key catalyst for the Seven Years' War. This war was fought between most of the time's great powers and erupted over multiple continents. The region passed to the British after that war, and then to the United States after the American Revolution. Even after these wars, the ground on which Columbus now stands was frequently the site of turmoil and fighting.
In 1812, Columbus was founded and declared the state capital in a single, joint decision. Named after the world-famous explorer Christopher Columbus, the site was chosen due to its position near the very centre of Ohio and to its accessibility by transportation routes (most significantly, rivers). The town quickly grew to live up to its role as state capital, being officially designated as a city on March 3, 1834.
Columbus continues to play a key role in Ohio's economic, political, and cultural life. During the 20th century, the city grew to become the largest in the state, and it diversified and modernized its economy. The Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the entire US, is located in Columbus. In addition, the city is home to a variety of renowned museums and performing arts centers, and to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which was ranked as the best zoo in the country both by USA Travel Guide in 2009 and by USA TODAY Travel in 2012.
- Number 1 on Forbes' "2012 Best Cities for Working Mothers".
- Number 8 on U.S. News & World Report's 2013 list of "10 Best Cities to Find Jobs".
- Number 13 on newgeography's 2013 list of "Best Cities for Job Growth".
- Number 19 on vocativ.com's 2013 list of "The 35 Best U.S. Cities For People 35 and Under".
- Number 20 on Businessweek.com's 2012 list of "America's 50 Best Cities".
Major Industries and Employers
Columbus is home to four Fortune 500 companies: Big Lots, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, L Brands, and American Electric Power. In addition, the head office of White Castle is located in the city, and Wendy's and Cardinal Health both have their head offices in the Columbus metropolitan area.
Other major sources of employment are hospitals; schools, including the Ohio State University; the Battelle Memorial Institute, a science and technology research and development company with its head office in the city; the local, state, and federal governments; and financial services, including JP Morgan Chase.
According to the City of Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the largest employer in the city is government, followed by professional and business services. Other sectors represented in its diverse economy include defense, tech, aviation, manufacturing, and retail.
In 2012, Columbus' population was estimated at 809,798, of which 45,536 were veterans and 83,345 were born overseas. The median age is 31.5, and the proportion of the population aged between 20 and 29 is 20.6%.
Of residents aged 25 or older, 88.2% have graduated high school and 32.9% have attained at least a bachelor's degree. On both of these points, Columbus is slightly ahead of the nation as a whole (the national rates are 85.7% and 28.5%, respectively).
The homeownership rate is 47.8% and the mean commute to work for residents aged 16 or over is 21.2 minutes. The mean per capita yearly income is $24,075. Columbus' unemployment rate is significantly below that of the nation; 5.1% for the city, as compared to 6.7% for the US. However, 22.0% of Columbus residents live below the poverty level.
The city's mean per capita income and the poverty level are both somewhat low. However, Columbus boasts a high educational attainment rate and a low unemployment rate, and has a strong, diversified economy. It appears to be particularly well suited to working mothers and to young people seeking jobs.