Grandview Heights Moment in Time

Wayne Carlson
Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society
Ben and King Thompson, the brothers who were responsible for planning Upper Arlington, needed property to develop a road between downtown Columbus and their development. They purchased more than 300 acres and developed a subdivision along the planned road, the Northwest Boulevard subdivision.

In 1916, brothers King and Ben Thompson, who eventually were responsible for the early planning of what would become Upper Arlington, established the Northwest Boulevard Co. to realize a dream of developing the community, which they had envisioned to be similar to one they had visited in Kansas City.

The plan of development was to be executed on the Miller farm north of Fifth Avenue due to the land’s location, attractiveness and environment. The Miller farm was close to Columbus’ city center (“within three and one-half miles, in a straight line, from the business center of Columbus”) and was on high ground – an aspect especially important in the context of the Great Flood of 1913 that severely affected central Ohio.

The city streetcar service, then just reaching the southern end of the planned development, and other public services also were considered. They realized they needed an artery from downtown to the northwest area in order to enhance the accessibility of their new development by automobile, and Northwest Boulevard was envisioned. The brothers purchased land through their development company that would allow them to build the thoroughfare. 

The plats of their Northwest Boulevard subdivision were filed in 1916 and 1917 and included properties carved out of the 345-acre Thomas farm in Grandview Heights.

The new subdivision comprised a significant portion of what is now Grandview Heights east of Grandview Avenue, between Goodale and Third Street. The road, Northwest Boulevard, would be designed to traverse their subdivision and enter the heart of their new planned community. 

This photograph, captioned as "The Skyline of Good Old Columbus Town, Taken from the Knolls of The Northwest Boulevard," appeared on the inside cover of the October 1918 Norwester magazine. It was part of an advertisement for residential lots for sale by the Thompsons’ company.

Ben was president of the company, and King was secretary. One major role of the company (besides developing the subdivision and the Thomas farm) was to be a liaison with the Franklin County commissioners. The advertisement boasted that "as the crow flies, the Ohio Statehouse was less than two miles away from the development.”

This historical narrative from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society was provided by Wayne Carlson.