Once again. no Weinland Park here! – The High Five campaign for comfortable suburban shopping.

A number of readers have written your local blogger and asked, “where do I live?’ Weinland Park?, the Short North? and where are the boundaries of these areas. That’s actually a very good question and it really depends who you ask and where because many times they will be more than happy to tell you where you do live or more likely where you don’t.

Legend has it that the Short North moniker was made by the Columbus police but your local blogger hasn’t located any primary documentation for this claim. It seems to be an early claim for street credibility that’s now being backed away from as fast as possible.

According to James Howard Kunstler’s Home from Nowhere: Remaking our Everyday World the Short North is the area between the Ohio State Campus and downtown adjoining Victorian Village. So, in this 1996 account Victorian Village isn’t even in the Short North. High stakes: big time sports and downtown redevelopment by Timothy Jon Curry, Kent P. Schwirian, Rachael Woldoff also describes the Short North as the area east, but not including, Victorian Village.

According to Street Legends: Original Gangsters, Volume 1,( mandatory reading for anyone dabbling in Weinland Park), the Short, or Short North, in the late 1980s was the neighborhood adjacent to the Ohio State University campus with its northern boundary at 11th Avenue, specifically Kelly’s Market. The southern boundary was at First Avenue. Why the Short – because the street, actually avenues,  numbers run between 1 and 11. The intersection of North Fourth and Eighth Avenue was the nerve center of the Short North gang scene at the time. The area seems to encompass what is now Italian Village and Weinland Park but not the west side of High Street.

The Short North before lavender candles…..

The Short North Posse began around 1989 and was swept in 1994. Interestingly, the perceived motivation for the demise of the Short North Posse in these gang narratives was to make the neighborhood safe for gentrification by incarcerating young black men. The Posse only existing to protect the neighborhood from outside dealers and other forms of economic encroachment. Whether the gentrification/incarceration theme is an invented tradition or not is a matter of debate but it is still a recurring neighborhood theme. However,  “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crises, Decline, and Transformation in Post-War History” by Heather Ann Thompson in the December Journal of American History makes the land seizure/gentrification angle seem positively quaint. Thompson postulates that recent mass incarceration craze is payback time for the advances made in civil rights during the 1960s and notes that more young black men are in prison since the period after the Civil War.

while you were making macrame plant hangers….

The Short North Posse, and the Short North, was made even more famous by its association with Vickie Stringer, their supplier who turned federal informant. While in prison Stringer pioneered the street lit genre by writing the autobiographical  Let That Be the Reason, also on the WP dabbler reading list, which made the SNP and the intersection of North Fourth and Eighth Avenue even more famous. All while Kent Rigsby was just getting started on his Short North vision. Let’s look at the other Short North.

Welcome to the Short North-located in Weinland Park

The Short North Foundation and the Short North Business Association mark their boundary line at Smith Place unless its newly developed on High Street which now includes the Short North Kroger, no longer located in Weinland Park but the arch is in Weinland Park but it’s called the Short North. Next, the Short North Arts District connecting with the South Campus Gateway, also located in Weinland Park which is not in the Short North. Got that?

The other Short North Posse keeping it real

The other Short North is in the same general location but with different people. It’s mainly about shopping and dining out according the Short North Business Association website. Which is fine because who doesn’t like shopping and eating. However the narrative of the site is interesting. Tellingly, there are very few persons of color, actually two, both who appear to be performers and not shoppers, on the entire website. Nor does it appear that anyone in the Short North makes less than six figures a year or is over 45 years of age.  Imagine a slightly chubby Beverly Hills 43201. A visit to the actual location must be a shocker for some of our country cousins after the website lures them in, gently tempered by the fact that there’s a Family Dollar in the Short North.

Too dicey to be advertised as the Short North

Word on the street has it that when representatives from Weinland Park asked the Short North Foundation about the possibility of replicating the historic Short North signs at our own expense they blanched (i.e. turned whiter) because they felt that formally incorporating Weinland Park into their Short North would lower their property values. In fact the Short North Foundation board pointed out that not all entrances into their Short North have signs because of this property value factor.  The reader will note that intersection of Summit and Fifth with its local businesses, people growing their own food, and even African American residents does not have a sign. The fine line between diversity and property value? Or just too edgy and distinctive for the Short North?

Local gang sign

Who gets an Historic Short North sign and why? Well, it seems that the Short North Foundation and the Short North Posse have much more in common than meets the eye. Both serve to protect their turf and economic interests broken down along lines of race and class. Each group protects its territory against infiltration and brand dilution a.k.a. punks.  The Historic Short North signs are only in areas that are largely affluent and white. The settings cry for Whole Foods coupons to be pasted on them or to be in close proximity to geo-cached scones.  The Short North appellation is slightly edgier as evidenced by the Short North Business Association and its territory-there is a White Castle. But as businesses that cater mainly to the white, affluent shopper friendly demographic move north the name moves with it. Consequently, Weinland Park never actually improves; it just gets smaller.

Dennison Place-geographically in South Campus, racially and economically in the Short North, they get a sign.

King Avenue (West Seventh Avenue) near High Street – the Peach District dissed again!

The real Weinland Park? – Low income tax credit home sites on Sixth Street – Can the sign be changed to Short North Homes?

So where do you live?  Depends on the competing narratives of the Short North; arts district (without much art) or urban neighborhood? Can you have both in the same place?  But much of it seems to be perception. Even the gang blogs admit the Short North Posse was cleaned out years ago so much of the Short North Foundations property value fears are baseless, if based on that. And seriously, there are probably more artists in Weinland Park than the Short North Arts District. Not to mention our neighborhood helped invent a whole genre of literature. So can you have a diverse, mixed income neighborhood full of the creative class, urban enthusiasts, and regular old folks living together in relative harmony next to one that’s gentrified and work together? Not so far.

So where you live still depends who you ask about it, the color of your skin, and weight of your wallet, not so much where you are. Or better yet don’t ask anyone and just pick one because in many ways both versions of the Short North are ancient history. Gangs and art are both disappearing rapidly, shopping isn’t edgy anymore and it’s just a matter of time before the signs read “Grandview East”.

Update: Because of these recent events all hopes in Weinland Park of the proposed trade of the D & J for the Exile Bar have been dashed.