A 1914 Walk Up High Street
In January, 1914, a series of photos were taken along High Street, Columbus, Ohio that provide an excellent view of both streetcar operations and daily street activity. The pictures were taken from Town Street on South High to Goodale Street just north of Columbus' Union Depot. This stretch constituted the commercial heart of Columbus and was the busiest section of Columbus' street railway system. In addition to the South High/North High line, streetcar routes radiated east and west off High Street heading to the new suburbs. There were also tracks for interurbans, from the west, crossing High Street at Town Street and an unused interurban track crossing High at Gay Street that would be abandoned in 1918. The new interurban station built at Third and Rich Streets in 1912 made that track unnecessary.
Columbus Railway and Light Company (CR&L Co.) had gone through much growth since the switch from horse cars to electric streetcars. In the start of electric service they had pieced together a hodge-podge fleet of four wheel and eight wheel street cars from multiple car builders. Some of the four wheel cars used old horsecars as trailers to increase passenger capacity. The CR&L Co. even built streetcar bodies in their own shops on Kelton Avenue equipping them with commercial trucks and electrical equipment in an attempt to keep up with demand for streetcar service. After the turn of the century as business continued to grow they settled on larger double truck cars with large end platforms for quick loading and unloading. The cars were mostly built by the Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The 500 and 600 series cars you will see in the pictures were all Kuhlman cars.
Click on the photos to enlarge.
Town and South High Streets - Photo #1
The walk up High Street starts at Town and South High Streets. The camera is looking North. The Ohio National Bank's imposing building is on the immediate left. It was built in 1911. Across the street on the northwest corner is the Lazarus department store. The Higgy Company next to Lazarus is having their January clearance sale which helps to date the photo. Another help with picture dating is the 1913 license plate on an automobile in one of the other photos in the series. Car #649, closest to the camera, is a High Street car headed for Union Station.
An interurban from Springfield can be seen on Town Street heading for the new Interurban Station at Third and Rich Streets.
State and South High Streets - Photo #2
One block north of photo #1 is the State Capital at State and High. The camera is pointing north with State Street going off the picture toward the right and Broad Street crossing in the distance.
The Street car coming toward the camera is #657 a High Street car from Union Station. Behind #657 is #495 from Marble Cliff and Grandview Heights on the northwest side of Columbus.
At the far corner can be seen a street cleaner's push cart with brooms used to clean up after the horses which were still common in 1914. Parked at the curve on the left front is an electric car which 92 years later we are still trying to bring back as we are the streetcars.
Broad and High Streets - Photo #3
The camera is pointed north toward Broad and High Streets the heart of Columbus. The State Capital grounds are visible in the lower right. The Deshler owned building on the left would soon be torn down to make way for the new Deshler Hotel.
CR&L Co. car #616, closest to the camera, has come from Franklin Park on the Oak Street line. Behind it are #613, a southbound car, and next to that #484 a Livingston Avenue car.
There is a good view of the new street lights (added in 1911) that replaced the light arches over High Street. Columbus is no longer the "Arch City" in 1914. The street lights along with the new cast iron line poles for the trolley wire support give Columbus a nice clean modern pre-World War I look that would last into the 1940s.
The banner over High Street is advertising the Ohio State Poultry Show being held at the Peruna Coliseum across from the interurban station at Rich and Third Streets. The event is being held the week of January 26, 1914.
Gay and North High Streets - Photo #4
It's 11:45am on a mild January day and the lunch hour crowd has hit the streets. The sidewalks are crowded as far as you can see. Unfortunately the distance is very hazy probably the norm in the first half of the twentieth century with the heavy use of coal especially in railroad steam engines. Union Station served by five steam roads is only four blocks away.
For streetcar aficionados this picture is of particular interest as it shows the possible use of multiple unit (MU) streetcar operation in Columbus. MU'ing involved electrically connecting two or more streetcars and operating them with one motorman. The northbound car closest to the camera, #531 has a cable by its head light that looks like a typical MU cable. In addition the two southbound cars headed by #604 has a car behind it close enough that they could be coupled together in MU operation. There is evidence that CR&L Co. often was having trouble meeting their capacity needs. Later in 1914 they would receive their experimental double decked trolley #1000 as an attempt to increase passenger carrying capacity.
Car #531 came from the West Broad Street line which served the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad (T&OC) Station and Green Lawn Cemetery. The southbound #604 is a High Street car headed for Beck Street.
An interurban track on Gay Street is visible crossing High Street. It was part of the old interurban loop through the center of Columbus, but may no longer be used since the introduction of the new Interurban Station at Rich and Third Streets in 1912.
Long and North High Streets - Photo #5
In this view you can see the Long Street line branching to the right (east). An Oak Street car, #637, is loading a standing room only crowd. The CR&L Co.'s streetcars were designed with ample standing room, both end platforms could hold 10-12 standees. The center of the passenger compartment also had room for standees between the two bench seats which ran the length of the car facing the center of the car. In the distance can be seen a streetcar turning southbound onto High Street at Spring Street.
At the corner of Long and High is the Union Department Store. Further up High Street at Spring Street is the Chittenden Hotel.
All the automobiles in view are rag top with some of them having their tops down even though it is January. The men and women are formally dressed unlike a street scene in the twenty-first century.
Spring and North High Streets - Photo #6
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is playing at the Lyceum Theatre located just past the Chittenden Hotel. The Chittenden Hotel was built in 1895 and closed in 1972.
The streetcar turning onto Spring Street is a Parsons Avenue - Pennsylvania Avenue car. It will travel west to Front Street, north on Front Street, continue on Park Street, west on Goodale Street, north on Harrison Avenue, jog onto First Avenue for one block and then north on Pennsylvania Avenue to Fifth Avenue. Car #654, closest to the camera, has come from Capital University on Main Street and is heading to the Neil Avenue Line.
In the distance is a streetcar turning east onto Chestnut Street. Looking further up High Street, through the haze, you can make out the hump where High Street goes over the Union Station tracks.
Goodale and North High Streets - Photo #7
The last stop on the walk up High Street is just north of Union Station at Goodale and High Streets. The 1876 Railway YMCA is on the corner. It provided a place for train crews to stay while waiting for their next assignment which will return them to their home base. Car #601 has come from the Schiller Park line.
It is three o'clock in the afternoon and you can see three streetcars in one two-block stretch. Business was very good for the CR&L Co. in 1914. It was also incredibly important for the growth of the city.
The tracks turning left (west) onto Goodale Street are used by the Neil Avenue cars that will terminate at the south end of the University campus.
This walk up High Street has been 1.2 miles in length and taken us past the 1914 commercial heart of Columbus. A majority of streetcar lines in Columbus traversed at least part of this section of High Street.
All photos from the AJC/DAK collections.