The Hilltop has a spirit of independence, inventiveness, and neighborhood pride. This historic neighborhood is an important urban resource that should be protected and sustained for future generations.
A COMMUNITY OF NEIGHBORHOODS
Throughout the years, the Hilltop has been defined by many different boundaries. Today the Greater Hilltop Area and its boundaries coincide with those of the City of Columbus Planning Area #15. Its boundaries are 1-70 on the North, the Railroad on the East, and 1-270 on the South and West.
YEARS OF TRANSITION
The first signs of a transformation on the Hilltop from a fanning community to an urban community occurred between 1885 and 1895; and until the flood of 1913, this transformation continued gradually.
Most of the Hilltop's older section were sold and platted in the 1890's and early 1900's.
Various services and prerequisites of urban life infrastructure, transportation, business establishments, and schools and churches were set into place, allowing the Hilltop community to adapt to the relatively sudden population increase that was to come.
In the 1910's and 1920's, the number of community facilities and organizations mushroomed, community pride flourished, and the Hilltop was regarded as one of the most desirable areas to live in the metropolitan area.
THE EARLY YEARS
The hill upon which the Hilltop is located was formed during the Glacial Period, and its height has proved to be a valuable asset. It has both saved the community from natural disasters, such as the horrific Great Flood of 1913, and makes it a highly visible, easily identifiable neighborhood.
The first people who inhabited the Hilltop area were mound-building Indian tribes. After the Revolutionary War in 1790, the first settler to arrive in the area was Lucas Sullivant, a deputy surveyor of land from Kentucky.
YEARS OF TRANSITION
The Hilltop's gradual transformation from a farming community to an urban community occurred between 1885 and 1895. Most of the Hilltop's older sections were sold and platted in the 1890's and early 1900's. The transformation quickly accelerated after the flood of 1913, since it was one of the only unaffected areas in the city.
During that transitional period, many services and prerequisites of urban life such as infrastructure, transportation, business growth, schools, and churches were established. Thankfully, these services and amenities allowed the Hilltop to more easily adapt to the sudden population increase that occurred after the flood.
In the 1910's and 20's, the number of community facilities and organizations greatly increased, causing a great deal of community pride. The Hilltop was soon considered to be one of the best neighborhoods in the entire metropolitan area.
GROWTH AND UNITY
The 1913 flood, the most devastating flood Columbus has ever seen, had a huge impact on the Hilltop's growth. Due to its elevation the Hilltop experienced no property damage, whereas many other parts of the city were completely destroyed--20,000 were left homeless. This caused a large number of people to move the Hilltop area in the wake of the flood, creating a remarkable boom in commercial and residential development in the following decade.
1920-1940 was a time of accelerated social and cultural activity on the Hilltop, especially during the Great Depression in the 1930's. Residents were struggling greatly, which made neighborhood unity essential. Many clubs, support groups, musical organizations, and new activities were created at this time.
Political life in Columbus during the 1940's, 50's and 60's was largely dominated by Hilltop residents. The Hilltop's most renowned political figure, M.E. "Jack" Sensenbrenner, first ran for Mayor of Columbus in 1953, and won. Two other mayors of the City of Columbus were also from the Hilltop. Floyd Green held that post from 1940 to 1943, and W. Ralston (Ross) Westlake served in that position from 1959 to 1963.
PROSPERITY, INFLUENCE AND CHANGE
During World War II, the Hilltop had to direct its resources to the War effort, which also took precedence over development, causing it to slow.
However, in the late 1940's and 50's, the growth the Hilltop once experienced returned stronger than ever before. Unfortunately, this growth didn't last through the 60's and 70's. Local shops were replaced with strip malls and large chain stores to accommodate cars more easily. In addition, an unfortunate consequence of the Hilltop's previous rapid population growth was that it created a less cohesive community, due to the influx of new residents with no community ties or roots. Thus, revitalization slowed and the Hilltop felt purposeless.
It was at the end of this period and in the early 80's that the Greater Hilltop Area Commission was established to provide a medium for residents to work together, to give the community a sense of direction, and to stimulate and support revitalization. This led to a new chapter in Hilltop's history.