Welcome to German Village, a National Register Historic District nestled just south of downtown Columbus, OH. Between the mid-19th century and the early 20th century, German immigrants flocked to this neck of Columbus, eventually becoming one third of Columbus’ population by 1865. While exploring GV over the weekend, I uncovered an area full of history, architecture, and of course, beer, sausages and fudge.
German immigrants flocked to Columbus to work in its bakeries, breweries (29 have existed in the area over the years), and meat packing houses. In 1890, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team played its very first game not far from today’s Schiller Park. The early 20th century was hard for German-Americans in GV, however. Anti-German sentiment became rife during the war and Prohibition shut down the breweries where many of the village’s inhabitants worked. German schools were closed, and German books were burned.
In the picture above, you can see Mohawk Street, most likely named to honor the natives of the Mohawk Valley, New York, where German settlers had resided peacefully with Native Americans for many years. Mohawk Street is home to a former speakeasy and is the former site of railroad tracks that were used for scrap metal in WWII. The road is easy to spot due to the lines of yellow bricks which separate traffic on the street.
In the 1960s, the village underwent a sort of revival by those who wished to preserve the area’s heritage. Now the area draws visitors from all over to sample the charm of its brick cottages, all-brick roads and sidewalks, quaint antique shops, and delicious German food. An annual Oktoberfest celebration perpetuates the area’s heritage today. Notable GV sites include the very first Max & Erma’s restaurant on South Third, Schmidt’s Sausage and Fudge Haus on Kossuth (famous for the “Bahama Mama” sausage and giant Bavarian cream puffs), the Book Loft, Franklin Art Glass Studios, and Katzinger’s Deli.
So if you happen to find yourself in Ohio, don’t miss out on this historic neck of the woods. Visit German Village and you will walk in the footsteps of 19th century immigrants, all while enjoying some really amazing food!