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The Path Less Traveled

History teaches us that openness to change can yield remarkable results.

Three months ago, I moved back to Columbus, Ohio after about two years living in Florida. If you’ve never visited Columbus, you should – here’s why. If you’re like most visitors I’ve met, you’ll be surprised at what you find. Columbus is a fascinating mashup of cultures, experiences, and people from many different walks of life, with seemingly room for all.

I discovered that this didn’t happen by coincidence.

There’s a PBS documentary series I’ve enjoyed called “Columbus Neighborhoods”, which profiles the history of various ethnic neighborhoods throughout the city and how each of these left its unique fingerprint on our culture. One recent episode, “Columbus Migration” presented an interesting fact – that at its inception, Columbus was one of the more diverse metropolitan areas in the Midwest. The city was unique, in that new Americans and ethnic minorities were more evenly distributed throughout the city.

This isn’t to suggest that discrimination didn’t exist; African-Americans and others definitely faced prejudice and were often restricted to certain areas of the city by neighborhood housing covenants through the 1960s. There were also thriving ethnic enclaves such as German Village in South Columbus and King-Lincoln Bronzeville in East Columbus, many of which evolved as a result of these restrictions. Nonetheless, Columbus avoided some of the difficulties faced by many Rust Belt cities when urban manufacturing declined. The reason for this is that Columbus had a much more diversified economy, a direct result of the opportunities people of different backgrounds found here to build a better life.

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