North Bank Park
North Bank Park is the site of the old pumphouse for the Ohio State Penitentiary. The park was dedicated on July 16, 2005. Funding for the park came from the State of Ohio and the City of Columbus, with the land being donated by AEP. The park is also home to North Bank Park Pavilion, a contemporary event venue that offers stunning views of downtown Columbus.
- 28.07 Acres
- North Bank Park Pavilion: North Bank Pavilion offers breathtaking views and a contemporary design that makes this a one-of-a-kind facility to host the most exceptional events. Learn More.
- North Bank Fountain: The park features an interactive spray fountain.
- Major Events in History: The park, which sits just southeast of the spot where the Scioto and Olentangy rivers converge, is steeped in the city’s heritage. Check out more about the history below.
Location and Info
Evolution of Transportation
Much of the development of Columbus’ early means of transportation was pushed forward by William “Wild Billy” Neil, who owned several stagecoach lines and controlled almost all passenger traffic into the area. Neil Avenue, which runs north from North Bank Park, is named for Neil, and it was previously a private drive to his farm (which became the main campus of The Ohio State University).
Neil also played a major role in bringing the Xenia and Columbus Railroad – the city’s first – to Columbus in 1850. More railroads were built to connect Columbus to other major cities in the following decades, and the steel bridge that replaced the original wooden bridge is still visible from North Bank Park; it’s the first railroad bridge you can see to the east. And it’s not the only piece of Columbus’ transportation history that can be seen from the park, other highlights include:
- State Route 315 loosely follows the path of the Scioto Trail, a buffalo trail followed by Native Americans.
- The Broad Street Bridge, to the southeast, is part of the National Road.
- The site of the former Columbus Buggy Company is part of the Arena District.
The Ohio Penitentiary
The Ohio Pen was situated across from North Bank Park, at the corner of Neil Avenue and Spring Street. It sat there for more than 167 years, opening in 1834 and closing in 1974 following extensive damage during a riot in 1968. The pen was knocked down in 1997 to make way for the Arena District project. Famous inmates included Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, The Gift of the Magi author O. Henry (born William Sydney Porter), and the inspiration for The Fugitive TV show Dr. Sam Shepherd.
The stone veneer used on the North Bank Park walls is made with actual stones from the Ohio Penitentiary.