POVERTY IN COLUMBUS A look at five neighborhoods and how they vary

By: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

Columbus is made up of many distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality, successes and struggles. For those looking to learn more about the areas surrounding campus, The Lantern has taken a deeper look at the social, economic and demographic aspects of five neighborhoods as the city experiences a variety of changes.

North Linden. Downtown. Franklinton. University District. Clintonville.

Why these five neighborhoods?

This map is an analysis of race, income and poverty levels by census tract within Franklin County, according to 2012-16 U.S. Census data. The color red represents the black population and the color green represents the white population. The darker the census tract, the more predominant the race is.

Yellow circles represent the number of households below the poverty level. The larger the circle, the more households there are within that census tract living in poverty. The largest circle represents 1,000 to 2,000 residents who live below the poverty line, while the smallest circle represents 0 to 366 residents who live below the poverty line, per census tract.

North Linden, Clintonville, Franklinton, Downtown and University District were chosen because each represented one end of the poverty line spectrum — the neighborhood either displayed some of the lowest levels of poverty or some of the highest.


Most employment industries within North Linden typically fall into four categories: health care, food services, waste management and retail trade, according to census data.

The neighborhood has many auto shops, such as LJ's Auto Services. Auto repair is the most common occupation in the retail trade industry within North Linden.


A small pond sits along one end of the park and an abandoned school building on the other. Seven miles away, airplanes take off at John Glenn International Airport, flying overhead nearly every five minutes.

Located northeast of campus and Hudson Avenue, Linden Park is approximately 20 acres large and has athletic fields, a recreational facility and a playground.


A family. Trees. Birds. Music and dancing. An old abandoned building. The mural is located on Cleveland Avenue between Briarwood and Myrtle Avenue.

Linden: A food desert?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as an area where households are "unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."

“The garden just up the street is beautiful in the summertime. They give away all the vegetables and fruit to the community for free.” - Michelle, a North Linden resident

In January, the Kroger grocery store located at 3353 Cleveland Ave. closed its doors in Linden. The company promised to bus residents from the Linden location to the Morse Road location, a 30-minute ride one way.

A week later, "A Tale of Two Food Environments," a study by Michelle Kaiser, an assistant professor of social work at Ohio State, found that more than 32 percent of Franklin County residents are food insecure.

Assistant professor of social work and lead author of the study Michelle Kaiser. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

More than 25 percent of the 650 households surveyed in Linden said it "wasn't easy" to access fresh produce. The study found that areas in Linden and Franklinton experienced the highest rates of food insecurity, especially after the most accessible source of fresh fruits and vegetables closed down.


The average home value in North Linden is $46,900, according to real estate website Zillow. Currently, 187 houses within the 43211 postal code representing North Linden are listed as vacant on the Columbus and Franklin County Land Bank Center’s website.

Wired fencing is a common occurrence among homes in Linden.



Drive west of Interstate Highway 71 and the railroad tracks that divide the city into east and west Columbus and you'll find yourself in Clintonville.

Home value dramatically increases immediately after crossing the railroad tracks. The average value of a home in Clintonville is $230,900, according to Zillow, and no vacant properties were listed on the Columbus and Franklin County Land Bank Center’s website.


Artists of this mural intended it to be a “common gateway” between Clintonville and North Linden. Project leaders met with more than 200 residents to hear feedback regarding images that would be painted on the mural, and a public reception was held for residents who live on either side of it.

For Linden residents without a car, getting to the reception at Whetstone Library meant taking at least an hour-long bus ride — one way — with two or more transfers, making the likelihood of the Linden community’s representation at the reception slim.


The Whetstone Park of Roses contains more than 130 acres dedicated to recreation, environmental education and more. Events are held at the reservable shelter house, and the park has significantly more athletic fields than all of the other parks featured in this report. Whetstone Park is easily accessible by car, bicycle or bus, and has a gazebo, pond, library and community facility.

It’s hard not to stop and smell the roses when visiting Whetstone Park, especially since 11,000 roses grow on a 13-acre plot within the park.


Mangini, a school teacher in Clintonville, spent a warm Friday afternoon in late March relaxing on a yoga mat with her golden retriever, Charlie, outside her home.

“I’ve lived in Clintonville my whole life. It’s a very walkable community. That’s how we like it. We’re on the bus line, so we get downtown quickly. Our neighbors are wonderful, very helpful." - Mandy Mangini

Of the 3,122 residents in Mangini's census tract, 2,962 are white, 73 are black and none are Hispanic, according to 2016 U.S. Census data. The average income of a Clintonville resident is $103,311.60, and the unemployment rate is less than 5 percent.



“I think this is definitely an area for students,” Hanna Hwang, a third-year in business, said of the University District area north of the university. “I feel safe, and I like how close it is to campus.”

According to census data, the average income of a University District resident is $17,426 and the unemployment rate for the area is 12 percent.

But, the area isn't just home to Ohio State students. Many long-term residents have chosen to stay in University District because of its proximity to High Street where they have access to grocery stores, hospitals and entertainment.


Located at Tuttle Park, this Columbus mural features "Cowtown," Ohio State University, cows, football, Ohio Stadium, a woman on the Olentangy Bike Trail and Clintonville.


Named after sports writer George C. Tuttle, this 43-acre park is located just north of campus on W. Oakland Avenue. Featured are both wooded areas and grassy patches of open space while accommodating bicycle commuters with its location on the Olentangy River Bike Trail. Tuttle Park offers visitors port-a-potties, a recreation center, playground, a water fountain and several athletic fields.

Real Estate website, Zillow, did not calculate the median property value for the University District area, and the Columbus and Franklin County Land Bank did not list any vacant properties.


Downtown Columbus is not only the central business district of the city, but also is home to the Arena District, the Ohio Statehouse and the Scioto Mile.


The average home value downtown is $220,700. No vacant properties in the area were listed on the Columbus and Franklin County Land Bank Center’s website.

A majority of the residential properties downtown are apartments in mixed-use developments — buildings that typically house a combination of residential, business and retail spaces — such as High Point at the Columbus Commons.


Finding outdoor public art in downtown Columbus can be difficult — and deceptive. What appears to be art from a distance is actually an ad promoting the latest iPhone’s camera quality.

“It’s hard living downtown without a car, you know. There aren’t any grocery stores, and COTA doesn’t really take you anywhere. And nobody wants to carry armfuls of groceries onto the bus, it’s way too inconvenient.”

- K.G., a Downtown resident

K.G., a downtown resident with a physical disability, waited at a bus stop in Linden on his way to purchase a pair of work boots. He said while downtown is a nice place to live, he doesn’t have much to do.
“I’m disabled, so I’m subsidized, but I still work when I can. My buddy owns a Mexican food truck and he calls me in to help sometimes. The extra money helps me put food on the table.” - K.G.


The privately-owned, 6-acre park located in the center of downtown. Before its construction in 2010, the Columbus Commons was previously the site of a four-story mall connected to the Lazarus Building.

Although two urban redevelopment corporations currently own the Columbus Commons, the park itself is open to the public. You can pay to host an event on the lawn or make the trek downtown during the summer to the more than 200 free events hosted there.

Bathrooms are open 7am-11pm most days of the week. The lawn and adjacent gardens are thoroughly manicured. Even during inclement weather, the park is kept clean. COTA buses run on either side of the park.


Called "The Bottoms" by long-term residents, Franklinton is across the Scioto River directly west of downtown. Although the neighborhood is adjacent to downtown, available resources as well as the community itself are drastically different.


Like the rest of Franklinton, Dodge Park is surrounded by three highway systems — state Route 315, I-70 and I-71. Similar to the railroad that divides Linden from Clintonville, the highways and the Scioto River separate Franklinton from the rest of Columbus.

Within the nearly 16-acre park exists a recreation center, swimming pool, playground, a skate park and a few basketball courts, though there are no bus stops at the park.


The Gravity Project is a mixed-use development effort currently under construction on the corner of W. Broad Street and Anson Street. The structure claims to offer a multidimensional space with more than 50,000 square feet of “creative” office space. In the background lies the Columbus skyline, and another set of railroad tracks dividing the community between East and West Franklinton.

According to the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority website — a public agency that provides financial capital to incoming developers in Central Ohio — redevelopment in Franklinton has been a "top priority" for the community.

Census data shows that the average income of Franklinton residents is $21,602, and approximately 34 percent of residents are unemployed.


To the left, a family home. To the right, a boarded-up, abandoned building. According to Zillow, the average property value of a home in Franklinton is $59,600. In 2010, there were approximately 815 vacant properties in the area.


Franklinton is home to a growing number of artists, with emerging spaces such as The Columbus Idea Foundry providing an outlet for those wishing to create.

Created By
Ris Twigg

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