Upper Arlington’s “Garden City” Roots


The Upper Arlington Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2985, is an important example of the “Garden City” model of early 20th century suburban development. Based on English precedents, the “Garden City” movement promoted the ideals of rustic beauty, health and comfort in an era when urban areas were becoming increasingly industrialized and congested. Local entrepreneurs King and Ben Thompson purchased 840 acres of farmland northwest of Columbus from James T. Miller for the creation of their “Country Club District” in 1913. The Upper Arlington Company, incorporated in 1917, built its field office in the building now used as Miller Park Library. Noted landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr. designed the curvilinear streets, spacious lots with generous setbacks, and permanent open spaces that characterize the district. Residential, civic, and commercial designs in the romantic Period Revival architecture styles popular between 1915 and 1940 contribute to the charm and character of the area known as Old Arlington. 


This is a short blurb that is included on an Ohio History Marker sign posted in Upper Arlington. The sign indicates that the Upper Arlington Historic District aka “Old Arlington” is included on the National Register for Historic Places. The sign gives a very broad overview of the history of the area, but what I think is particularly important is that it talks about the influence of the “Garden City” landscape/urban planning movement on the development of all of Upper Arlington, but particularly in Old Arlington. One of the articles I read for the business section of my newspaper talks about the idea of creating walkable neighborhoods by rezoning sections of the suburbs to add amenities that these areas lack, like businesses or parks. Based on this sign, it seems as though the idea of the Garden City influenced the creators of Old Arlington in a way that the houses are already interspersed with small parks. It might be useful to go visit these parks for inspiration or to see if any would be a viable location for a bus stop for the circulator.