1755 E Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43203 view on map
Location: Central Columbus
Located just east of downtown Columbus, Franklin Park is the place for year round fun in Central Ohio. The 100 acre shared park is a popular destination for community events and provides a tranquil and beautiful site for a wedding ceremony. The park is also home to the Franklin Park Conservatory, which is a cherished gem of the city and is run by Joint Recreational District/Conservatory. During the winter months visitors come to the park to view the snow-capped trees, and to warm up inside the lush environments of the conservatory.
In 1852, an eight acre county fairground – The Franklin County Agricultural Society Grounds, opened on what was to become Franklin Park. Fairs were held here for 30 years as the grounds were expanded to 100 acres. Urbanization of surrounding lands forced the County to abandon the land in 1884 and establish new fairgrounds at a more remote site. The Ohio General Assembly passed a resolution in 1885 that permitted use of the land as a public park to be administered by the City of Columbus.
In 1894, the City of Columbus commissioned a local architect, J.M. Freese, to design a facility to be built in the park similar to a mammoth glass palace featured at the 1883 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Chicago “glass palace” was inspired by London’s Crystal Palace built in 1850. In 1895 the Franklin Park Conservatory was built (Nat. registry of Historic Places 1974). The Conservatory housed zoo animals for many years until 1925 when the zoo changed its location to the O’Shaughnessy Reservoir. Ameriflora, an international horticultural exhibition was held in the park in 1992 as part of the Columbus Quincentennial; the exhibition cost $95 million to produce and attracted 5.5 million visitors. Some features from Ameriflora still remain in the park, including the lake with a fountain and waterfalls, floral gardens and a sculpture near the conservatory, walkways, and conservatory expansions. After Ameriflora, a Joint Recreational Conservatory District formed – 27.96 acres within the park to contain the Conservatory and the surrounding gardens. In 2009, a vast community garden area in the SE corner of the park opened that will allow food and gardening classes for all ages.