Near North Side: Still recovering from decades of population and housing unit loss

Near North Side: Still recovering from decades of population and housing unit loss

Our close-in urban neighborhoods were built to accommodate many thousands more residents than currently live there. Of many examples, the neighborhoods of Italian Village—formerly known as part of the Near North Side—have not recovered from the decades of devastating population loss that began in the 1960s.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we show how the three census tracts making up this geography have a population of 8,535 (Year 2020). In 1950, when employment, retail, and dozens of other service businesses dotted the neighborhood—there were nearly 13,000 residents. As the adage goes, retail follows rooftops. Now with a lower population density and an economy based partially around tourism, the neighborhoods have a drastically different identity than in past decades.

The table below shows population figures for the two census tracts that make up Weinland Park (16 and 17 combined) and the one tract that roughly approximates Italian Village (22). The neighborhood boundaries do not align exactly with the census tracts, in part because the neighborhood identities didn’t exist when tract lines were drawn.

Like other Columbus neighborhoods, the “village” name was a tactic employed by neighborhood promoters to draw attention to deteriorating urban areas while capitalizing on the folksy appeal of the “village” moniker.

Weinland ParkWeinland ParkItalian
YearPopulationHousing UnitsPopulationHousing Units
19407726n/a4233 n/a
Notes: Housing units includes occupied and vacant units.
Some years have high vacancy rates. Some years show households when housing units were not counted.

The following graphs demonstrate the steep decline and recent upswing in population in both Weinland Park and Italian Village. For Weinland Park, the population low point came in 2010—after significant demolition and large-scale redevelopment plans were underway. In Italian Village, the population bottomed-out in 2000. Still, both neighborhoods have just a fraction of the residents they used to support.

The story for housing units (which includes vacant units for most years) is a bit more stable. The most notable data points arrive between 2015 and 2020, when the number of housing units grew significantly in both neighborhoods—but especially in Italian Village. This can be attributed to the redevelopment projects at the former Jeffrey Manufacturing site and Columbus Coated Fabrics, as well as reliable residential infill throughout both neighborhoods.

The physical infrastructure and built environments of Columbus’ urban neighborhoods were constructed to house many thousands more people than currently live here.

N4MN Columbus supports housing policy reform that will increase residential density at all price points to give more diverse people the opportunity to call our historic and walkable neighborhoods home.

Download the statistics used in this post