Columbus Bicentennial: Happy Birthday, Goodale Park!

Photograph of the Goodale Park pond, taken by the Baker Art Gallery

Wednesday, July 18th marked the 151st anniversary of Columbus receiving our first park, donated by Lincoln Goodale in 1851. Goodale Park consists of 40 acres just north of downtown Columbus, in the area now referred to as the Short North or Victorian Village. It is one of the oldest parks in the country, and is familiar to Columbus residents as the home of the city’s annual Community Festival, as well as a summer outdoor movie series and Sunday concerts hosted in its gazebo.

Portrait of Lincoln Goodale, courtesy of the Worthington Historical Society via Ohio Memory

In addition to his philanthropic work, the donor and namesake of the park, Dr. Lincoln Goodale, was notable as Columbus’s first physician. Goodale (1782-1868) was born in Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Goodale, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Along with his wife and children, Nathan was one of the first settlers of Marietta, Ohio, in 1788. He later moved the Goodale family to Belpre, where his son studied medicine.

After his studies, Lincoln moved to Franklin County around 1805, living first in Franklinton and later in Columbus. During the War of 1812, Goodale volunteered as an assistant surgeon. His practice flourished after the war, and he also engaged in land speculation, and owned a store dealing in general merchandise and medical supplies. He was a Columbus fixture throughout the rest of his life, even serving as a pallbearer for Abraham Lincoln’s casket when it came to the Statehouse for public viewing. But one of his greatest legacies is the park and adjacent street which both bear his name.

Bird’s-eye view of Columbus, 1872

Goodale Park was donated as a dedicated city park, providing a tranquil green space for those who lived and worked in an increasingly industrial Columbus. Its original deed outlined the specifications for the park’s use and maintenance, ensuring that this section of the city would remain protected from development over the past century and a half. You can see an aerial perspective of the park in its early days in the upper left-hand corner of the above map, showing a less-developed Columbus back in 1872. Over the years, the park has been the site of revivals, temperance meetings, and countless festivals. What might surprise many readers is that Goodale even served as a mobilization center known as “Camp Jackson” during the Civil War, providing a campground for thousands of soldiers as they prepared to head off to fight!

We invite you to visit Ohio Memory to see more Goodale history, or visit the Friends of Goodale Park website for a detailed look at the park through the decades. And make sure to take a stroll around Goodale the next chance you get, following the same beautiful paths that Columbus residents have enjoyed for the last 151 years!

Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!


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