Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Shops! Hotels! Bars and clubs! A FOOD COURT! A FRENCH MARKET! Tons of young adults hanging around on Friday and Saturday nights out for a night out on the far north outskirts of the city. Business people well dressed for a delicious French meal on their lunch hours. Welcome to the Continent..about 20 years ago. The Continent was developed in the then fast growing Sharon Woods/Worthington area around the Route 161 and I-71 interchange back in the mid 1970s. At the time, the area was growing rapidly being transformed from almost rural farmland and fields to a commercial strip of businesses and apartment community in what was then the northern boundary of the Columbus urban area. While I was both 1. too young to remember, and 2. didn't even live around here at the time, I am told that this was the place to be if you were young, wannabe hip, and had the misfortune of living in Columbus, Ohio from about the late 1970s to late 1980s. The Continent supposedly had one of the nation's first food courts (though the food court opened at Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall came along the same time) and is arguably one of the first combined mall/lifestyle centers in the eastern US. It was still pretty hopping as late as the mid 1990s when Easton, Polaris, Tuttle Mall, and the renewal of the center city started its precipitous decline. In 2000 I moved fairly close to the area and by then it was a ghost town with the area I lived in, becoming a crime infested junkyard of dilapidated apartments. A new Giant Eagle was built on what used to be a Harley Hotel which fronted the Continent on Rt. 161. The various units of bars and restaurants in the Continent have changed hands many times with new names almost every other month. Today, the Continent still exists, but is a shell of what once was. The hotels in the area are still doing well since it is so close to a major interchange. There are a few bars and restaurants as well as a few small shops in the strip just south of the actual Continent trying to make it there, as well as the movie theater now called "The Screens" though that has went through several ownership and name changes over the last decade. The "French Market" has been closed for years and the apartments are still occupied. The large neon sign, visible from I-71 from quite a long distance, I believe was recently refurbished, since I have noticed it to be much brighter the last few months. A few of the pictures in this set are not stricly IN the Continent, but in the area immediately surrounding it. It was raining heavy so there may be some water spots. All taken the night of 3/3. Thompson's Capri Lanes. A small, family owned bowling alley; the same family once owned Sequoia Lanes, which just housed a PBA tournament and is featured in my entry a few months ago. Typical old fashioned lanes, like going back to the 1960s. But it does have automatic scoring. I live in the area behind this center from 2000 to 2002 and the area is a wreck of a place. The bowling alley is still in good shape for it's age and is one of the best bargains around for bowling. I last bowled in a summer league here about 6 years ago. Got to see a Red Sox/Indians game from it.