Columbus, with an estimated population of 730,657 residents, is the largest city in the state of Ohio. Founded in 1812, it sits at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, which have long been an area of concentrations of populations beginning with mound-building societies, whose structures of burial and ceremonial mounds still exist today and are preserved and identified throughout the city. Early settlers to the area also encountered decedents of these cultures to include the Shawnee, Wayandot, and Mingo nations. Because of its location, Columbus soon became a thriving center for commerce and became the state capitol in 1816.
With a diverse economy based on technology, education, insurance, and health-care, Money Magazine identified it as the 8th best large city to live. Columbus is also known as the "Arch City" due to many wooden and metal arches that spanned High Street at the turn of the twentieth century. These were used as supports for gas and then electric lights and later used to provide electric power to the streetcar system. The original arches were torn down but replaced in 2002 as part of a historical restoration movement for the city. Columbus is also home to Ohio State University, and Columbus State Community College, as well as numerous other smaller colleges and schools.
Continued economic prosperity for the area is fueled in part by a concentrated presence of corporate headquarters and regional offices for some of the largest national insurance and banking companies like Nationwide, State Farm, Safe Auto, Motorists and Grange Insurance, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Huntington Bancshares, Inc. Other major players in the economic community include McGarw-Hill, Sterling Commerce, Mettler Toledo, Limited Brands, and Abercrombie Brands (parent company for Abercrombie and Fitch and Ruehl 925).
Notable architecture in the city includes several world-class buildings, including the Greek-Revival State Capitol, the art-deco Ohio Judicial Center and the Peter Eisenman-designed Wexner Center, Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Rhodes State Office Tower, LeVeque Tower, and One Nationwide Plaza. Other attractions in the area include an exact scale replica of the Santa Maria, The Columbus Museum of Art, The Wexner Center for the Arts, the Franklin Park Conservatory, COSI, (formerly the Center of Science and Industry), and the Ohio Historical Society. Columbus is also home to the famous Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where Jack Hanna is its director emeritus. The city also boasts the distinction of "Great Garden City" by Organic Gardening Magazine because of over 60 community gardens and farmers markets. Famous public parks and botanical gardens can be enjoyed throughout the Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District. These include Inniswood Metro Gardens, Highbanks Metro Park, Big Darby Creek, The Chadwick Arboretum and Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park.
Columbus is the home of many famous performing arts institutions, including Opera Columbus, BalletMet, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCo), Shadowbox Cabaret and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Numerous large concert venues in the area highlight the city's love of music and performing arts, including Nationwide Arena, Value City Arena, Germain Amphitheatre, Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and the Newport Music Hall. Annual festivities in Columbus include the Ohio State Fair, the Columbus Arts Festival the annual Oktoberfest, The Hilltop Bean Dinner, and Festival Latino. Columbus is also known as a popular convention destination with the presence of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, designed by the famous architect Peter Eisenman.