Norwood Park

Columbus, Ohio

There has been quite a bit of discussion on CoasterBuzz lately about this small amusement park that apparently once graced the West bank of the Alum Creek along East Main St. The park was long gone by the time I came along, but my limited investigation so far indicates that it was one of the last, if not the last, amusement parks to be lost from the Columbus area. I'm also finding that there is very little information available about this park.

I decided to pay a visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library. There, in an effort to get some results quickly, I headed straight for the Ohio section to see what I could find in the plat maps. The library has in its collection a limited number of real-estate atlases which show the city to an amazing level of detail...on the order of one inch to 200 feet. I started with the Baist's Real Estate Atlas ca. 1922. Here's what I found:

[1922 map]Well, that's the correct location, anyway. The area highlighted in green is all shown as owned by the City of Columbus. No sign of an amusement park there, but notice that there are two buildings on the property: an electric sub-station and a sewage pumping station. That sewage pumping station still exists today. It also appears to me that Harlow St. shown on the map (it is also identified on the map as "Holtzman Ave.") is at the present-day location of Alum Creek Drive. Initially I was suspicious of this, as there is a Holzman Ave. North of Main St., but it is located about a block to the West of Alum Creek Drive. But if you look closely at the map detail shown here, you can see that Harlow St/Holtzman Ave dead-ends into E. Main St. I didn't include the North side of Main in my original picture, but I think the Holzman St. offset exists on this map.

Another useful landmark is two lots South of the sewage pumping station. You can see that Payne St. runs east and west along the South edge of this map. It doesn't cross Alum Creek Drive anymore, but Payne St. still exists. Well, here: Have a look at a MapQuest map of the area in question. I'm pretty sure that when Alum Creek Drive was cut through there, the end of Holzman St. was chopped off so that Alum Creek Drive would end at the same spot where Holzman used to end. Holzman still exists, but it serves mostly as a service road.

My next find was a plat map dated approximately 1937. Not quite as useful, but again it shows the location of Norwood Park, though it does not identify the location as such. Again, the areas in question are highlighted in green.

[1937 map]

This map shows only the sewage pumping station, and again doesn't indicate the presence of an amusement park. It does, however, show the two electric street railway lines, one running along Main St., and another running parallel to Payne Ave. and crossing the Alum Creek on what appears to be its very own bridge.

Finally, I found a Sanborn Fire Protection Map. The map had been drawn in 1922, re-indexed in 1937, and had been pasted over with many updates over the years, with the most recent update having been added in 1961. This meant that all the other parks I looked up in it were pasted over (Olentangy Park was particularly frustrating because not only had the original map been pasted over, the new map was a slightly different scale and was offset at an angle, so looking through the paste-overs didn't give any indication of how the old structures matched the current ones). Luckily, Norwood Park did not close until about 1964, so it was still shown on this effectively-1961 map:

[1961 map]

Again, the property is located at the corner of E. Main St. and Holtzman Ave. Again, I've highlighted the park in green. It isn't clear whether the park grounds includes the triangular strip of land along the Alum Creek. It is clear that the park grounds extends only as far back as McAllister Ave., and that sewage pumping station is immediately South of the park. The map only shows permanent structures, so while CoasterBuzz correspondents have indicated that the park had a number of rides, those rides were probably portable, and therefore not shown on the map. The map does show what might be a rest-room building at the Northwest corner of the property, a Dodgem pavilion immeidately North of the sewage pump, a concession building, and two smaller, unidentified structures. The color of the structure on the map is supposed to show the type of construction, but I failed to make a note of what was what. The pink apparently indicates a brick structure, since that's what the existing building is made of.

Here's a closer view of the same map, this time showing only the Norwood Park area:

[1961 map detail]

Without the shading, it's easier to see how all of the structures were pasted into the map sometime between the time the original plate was drafted in 1922 and 1961 when the last recorded update to the map was made.

Reader Comments:

This page has generated an unusual amount of feedback, which is particularly interesting as I never promoted it at all. Columbus and Bexley residents are finding it anyway, and telling me of their experiences with Norwood Park:

Barbara Ayres

Victoria Althoff

Larry Barbera

Jennifer Bosveld, Pudding House Innovative Writers Center

David Hohmann, Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries

"Olentangy" Bill King

Denis Larrick

Lester Nafzger

Bill Scholer

On September 26, 2005, I received a brief email message from Amy (Norwood) Mohr, the great-granddaughter of the park owners. Her message:

I never got to know them, however it is nice to read how my ancestors touched you all.

Thank you, Amy, for stopping in to read our stories!

One further detail...

Several correspondents have referred to the site as "Norwoods" as well as "Norwood Park." As it turns out, the park is apparently named for its owner, Raymond A. Norwood. The Columbus Metropolitan Library has in its collection a photograph of the Norwood House at 2965 Parkside Rd., as published in the Hilltop Record on April 27, 1941. So technically I suppose it would be correct to refer to the place as "Norwood's Park." I haven't seen the photograph yet; the record came up in an online search of the Buildings and Historic Photographs database at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Stay tuned...

Research into Columbus area amusement parks is an ongoing project. Watch for updates as I learn more!

Last updated 08/05/2005

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