Let me let you in on a little secret. I love (LOVE) NPR. I mean, I can't get enough. If this makes me a super geek, so be it. I would be lost with out National Public Radio.
This morning I was listening to 89.7 WOSU and I heard the most fascinating story about Naghten Street, the very street on which Opera Columbus sits! My favorite part of the story was learning that the street was once called Irish Broadway. How cool is that?!?! Picture it: lots of green, sparkly costumes, gold tap shoes, top hats... I digress. So, thanks to our friends at WOSU (and information from the historical marking on the street) here's a wee bit o' Columbus Irish history for you in honor of St. Patrick's Day:
Thousands of Irish immigrants came to Columbus to seek personal and religious freedom. With the "Great Hunger" in Ireland and the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal and the National Road, immigration to Columbus increased in the mid nineteenth century. They initially settled in the north side of the city in the swamp flats, where inexpensive land was available and work could be had on the railroads. Settlement spread to Franklinton, on Naghten Street, later known as "Irish Broadway"- part of which is now Nationwide Boulevard, and to nearby Flytown. The immigrants became domestic workers, civil servants, entrepreneurs, and served the city in police and fire departments. Others were leaders in government, law, medicine, and education. Their legacy continues today in the Irish-American population of Columbus, Ohio.
These are only a representative few of the Irish individuals and groups who were prominent in the formation of Columbus. IRISH IN COLUMBUS BEFORE OHIO STATEHOOD Lucas Sullivant, Founder of Franklinton in 1797 John Brickell, Early settler IRISH IN COLUMBUS DURING EARLY STATEHOOD Thomas Kirker, Ohio's 2nd governor, acting 1807-08 term John Kerr, 2nd Mayor of Columbus Alfred Kelley, Father of Ohio Canals, Ohio and Erie Canal Developer, and Legislator IRISH IN COLUMBUS AFTER THE GREAT HUNGER (1845) Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, St. Francis Hospital Dominican Sisters, St. Mary of the Springs, St. Mary of the Springs Academy William "Billy" Naghten, Columbus City Council President Patrick Egan, Franklin County Coroner for ten terms Jeremiah O'Shaughnessy, Superintendent, Division of Water, Columbus, Ohio.