Former downtown mall is now an eventful lawn for all

As I walk through the grassy lawn of Columbus Commons, I can’t help but think of the Talking Heads song “Nothing But Flowers.”

“There was a shopping mall, now it’s all covered with flowers,” sings David Byrne in the ’80s hit. “Once there were parking lots, now it’s a peaceful oasis.”

In 1989, about the same year the song came out, the Columbus City Center opened in downtown Columbus. The shopping center offered more than a million square feet of merchandise in the heart of downtown.

The mall closed in 2009, and to the surprise of many it reverted to a huge public lawn in the center of the city, where food trucks now converge and friends gather to play kickball.

Columbus Commons is a 7-acre green space featuring gardens designed by Franklin Park Conservatory, an outdoor reading room sponsored by Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and a whimsical carousel carved by the artists at Mansfield’s Carousel Works.

Children can ride the carousel for free during Commons for Kids, a family-friendly event held Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. through Aug. 29. They also can romp on the lawn, play with a life-size chess set, make structures out of interlocking foam shapes and participate in organized crafts.

The park even has a state-of-the-art performance space called Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion. More than 200 programs are held there annually, including Picnic with the Pops and Shakespeare in the Park.

If all this play makes you hungry, get some pizza  at Mikey’s Late Night Slice or a creative cone at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – two Columbus originals that now have permanent shops at the park.

Columbus Commons is open daily from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Parking is available at nearby garages at 55 E. Rich St. and 191 S. Third St.

For a list of family-friendly events, visit

Stay tuned to the park’s events calendar at

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