10 Interesting Historical Facts About Upper Arlington, Ohio

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The city of Upper Arlington is home to us here at First Community Village and we love exploring all that the city has to offer and learning about its origins.

Read on to find out some of the key insights and historical facts about our favorite city in central Ohio. 

  • How Upper Arlington Got Its Name
    The founding brothers of the town, King and Ben Thompson, purchased the land that is now Upper Arlington from James T. Miller in 1913. The Thompson brothers referred to the area as the Country Club District as they envisioned an idealistic residential community for Columbus.
    • In 1917, the community became known as Upper Arlington because of its location directly north of a small village named “Arlington.” This town later changed its name to Marble Cliff.
    • Upper Arlington is now home to approximately 34,000 residents who reside within 9.67 square miles.
  • “Garden City” Inspired Development 
    After Upper Arlington came to be, the development proceeded according to the plans of landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr. Pitkin had a vision to develop the town inspired by the “Garden City” movement.
    • This movement called for developing around the organic forms of curving streets and surrounding agriculture and residences, opposed to a gridded street layout.
    • The pleasant, park-like, and historic feel created a lot of green space for residents to enjoy, which they do to this day.
  • Camp Willis Training Camp
    Development of our city was temporarily stopped in 1916 when 8,000 National Guard troops used the location as a military training camp.
    • The troops were preparing to defend the United States and protect the United States/Mexico border from the attacks of Pancho Villa’s Mexican troops.
    • Camp Willis was located where Jones Middle School now resides.
  • The Norwester Magazine
    The Norwester was published monthly from 1917 through 1922 and told the stories of early suburban life in Upper Arlington and Grandview Heights. The community published the magazine as a part of their effort to be “the finest residence district and most cordial community in Ohio.”
    • The magazine served as the first local newspaper that focused on the northwest suburbs of Columbus and its rich history and culture.
    • In addition, the magazine and its photographs were the first to be digitized by the Upper Arlington Public Library in their archives program.
  • The Norwester Yearbook 
    A local favorite is this yearbook that has been published annually by the Upper Arlington City School District since 1923. Recently, the Upper Arlington Public Library joined forces with the city schools and the area alumni association to launch the collection on a digital platform.
    • The exciting collection is searchable by keyword to find friends and family. In addition, the digital version of the yearbook highlights involvement of students as well as faculty.
    • The yearbook collection is an important resource for Upper Arlington High School’s Alumni and helps to maintain a rich tradition in our city’s history.
  • The Wall of Honor
    Since 1990, Upper Arlington has honored residents who have made a significant impact in the city by selecting them for the Wall of Honor. Those who have been honored include:
    • Woody Hayes
    • Stefanie Spielman
    • Dr. Arthur G. James

    The ceremony is held every May at the Municipal Services Center where all are welcome. The City of Upper Arlington and the Upper Arlington Historical Society recently welcomed John Austin Dunkel to the Wall of Honor. Dunkel, a former attorney, set the stage for Upper Arlington to establish its own library system.

  • Scioto Country Club 
    In 1916, Scioto Country Club opened in the heart of Upper Arlington, and its course has been celebrated as a significant achievement in golf course architecture.

    In fact, one of America’s greatest golfers, Jack Nicklaus, learned the game by taking his first lessons at the club. The Scioto Country Club is considered one of the top 100 golf courses in the world and has hosted the following championships:
    • U.S. Open
    • PGA Championship
    • Ryder Cup
    • U.S. Senior Open Championship
    • U.S. Amateur Championship

  • What Is the “Golden Bear”?
    The Golden Bear stands as a symbol of rich history in Upper Arlington. The bear is a result of a hunting expedition of three men: Denver Simmons, Dick Von Maur, and Jimmy Crum.
    • Captured in Kodiak, Alaska, the bear was then sent to be shaved and stuffed. However, in 1956, Mr. Crum donated the bear to Upper Arlington High School as a show of his allegiance to the town.
    • The bear is symbolic of keeping a close eye on social and athletic endeavors of the students and residents of Upper Arlington.
    • The fierce bear also represents the pride of Upper Arlington and holds memories for many.

  • Upper Arlington Archives
    The UA Archives, part of the Upper Arlington Public Library, chronicles the history of the region. Examples of materials in the collection include historical images and letters that date as far back as 1918.
    • The UA Archives initiative was selected as one of only 56 worldwide participants to join the Commons of Flickr. These archives are accompanied by the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New York Public Library.
    • Flickr launched the collection in 2010 describing it as “a fine slice of early 20th century heartland Americana.”

  • Oral Histories
    Upper Arlington is fortunate to have oral histories from earlier residents who shared their fondest memories of the community. The UA Archives has announced that these oral histories will soon be available on their website.

Be a Part of Upper Arlington’s History

Upper Arlington is a great place to enjoy the retirement you have always dreamed of. Reach out to us today for more information about being a part of our community.