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Greater Hilltop Community Development Corp. Website



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The hill upon which the Hilltop community resides was formed during the Glacial Period,

and its height has not only saved the community from natural disaster on several occasions, but has made it a highly visible, readily identifiable community. Early accounts offer descriptions of thickly wooded land with a great variety of animal and plant life. Its' well drained fertile soil certainly contributed to its rapid and sustained growth as an agricultural foothold during the 19th Century.This sepia photo from the early 20's shows two workers standing next to the trolly car that ran on Broad and High streets

The first Hilltop inhabitants were mound-building Indian tribes. The first settler to arrive in the Hilltop area was Lucas Sullivant a surveyor. He acquired vast acreage of land as payment for his services. By 1888 his sons, William and Michael, inherited 1600 acres on the Hilltop and became the first residents.

The city of Columbus's rapid growth in the mid 19th century led to the establishment of Camp Chase and the construction of the largest structure in the nation under one roof, the Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital. This sprawling series of buildings dominated the Hilltop skyline. The hospital was demolished in the late 1980s, and the State Safety and Transportation Buildings now occupy the site. The sleek new building received a 1999 Project Achievement Award from the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA)


Among the early development to draw attention to the area was the construction of the National Road (Broad Street or Route 40). The road was built in the 1830's of timber and stone that was hauled from the quarries north of the State Hospital in Columbus Ohio. Two railroad lines traversed the Hilltop area by the 1860's. The railroads attracted machinist, conductors and other related labourers to settle on the Hilltop.

Camp Chase at 160 acres was the largest Civil War prisoner camp in the North. The first prisoners arrived in 1861 and the number of prisoners swelled to 9,000 in 1865. The camp was only operative for four years. By 1865 the property was offered for sale at public auction. In 1879 a war veterans’ cemetery was established on the camp grounds. Over 2000 soldiers are buried at the cemetery, north of Sullivant Avenue just west of Hague Avenue. The cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall the remains of the wall that formerly circled the prison encampment.

After the Civil war the farmland that comprised the bulk of the Hilltop were subdivided and platted starting in the late 1870's. Soon after streets were paved, The flood of 1930 ruined this and many other homes in the bottoms of Franklintonplots sold and homes constructed. By the early 1890's the communities growth warranted the construction of its own street car system. By the 1900's, 2,000 people called Hilltop home, and numerous businesses emerged along Broad Street.

The devastating flood of 1913 left nearly 20,000 homeless in Columbus. But most of the Hilltop property was unaffected. The Hilltop community offered housing and supplies to the flood victims in Franklinton, the lowlands community west of the Hilltop, and the oldest community in central Ohio. Following the flood disaster there was unprecedented growth on the highlands known as the Hilltop, with both commercial and residential development booming between 1913 and 1925.


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