Columbus residents today know the South Commons as home to the Civic Center and Golden Park, but they might not realize that the city was once surrounded by a public greenbelt. This exhibition utilizes maps, artifacts, and images to examine the former Commons areas set aside by Columbus’ founders as public green spaces. The South Commons has been home to ball fields, race tracks, and other recreational pursuits since the city’s early years, but similar spaces also existed on the north and east sides of the city.
After the Civil War, those areas came to house the first City Hospital, the first residences and schools available to freedmen, and the industrial area that included Goldens’ Foundry and facilities for the Central of Georgia Railway, among others. Though the use of these common spaces changed, their purposes continued to benefit the public, whether providing healthcare, connecting Columbus to the rest of the country through rail travel, or offering formal education to African Americans. Even today, many of these areas mirror their historic goals, bringing residents and visitors together in search of common ground.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website