On A Clear Day, Ride To The Rhodes Tower’s 40th Floor And Look Around You

At 629 feet tall, it towers over Columbus, earning its title as the tallest building in Ohio’s capital city. What’s more, it’s the state’s fifth tallest building, and one of the largest granite structures in the world.

The James A. Rhodes State Office Tower is named for Ohio’s longest-serving governor, who first held the office from 1963 to 1971 and again from 1975 to 1983. Since its completion in 1974, thousands of state employees have converged at the 41-story building to work in a variety of state offices, including the Ohio Supreme Court, until it moved to the Ohio Judicial Center in 2004.

The Rhodes Tower is also home to an enclosed observation deck offering the best view of downtown Columbus from every direction.  It’s open to the public during working hours on weekdays.

To discover this well-kept secret, go through the revolving doors at the entrance to 30 East Broad Street, check in with photo identification at the security desk in the building’s five-story-high lobby, and ascend to the 40th floor in the appropriately designated cars that are part of the tower’s 24-elevator system, which travel at a speed of approximately 1,000 feet per minute.

After your ear-popping journey, arrive on the floor where window-lined hallways offer views of the city from all directions. Poster-sized photographs of the view in each direction help visitors identify landmarks.

Looking west, admire how the Scioto River winds its way between the neighboring LeVeque Tower, COSI and the newly constructed National Veterans Memorial and Museum. In the distance, make out the Summit Chase condominiums in Grandview.

Pass the north-facing windows, which offer a glimpse of Downtown industry, such as Abbott Laboratories and Nationwide Insurance.

Inspect the building’s granite bricks; each one weighs 450 pounds. Then peer down into the Renaissance Hotel’s swimming pool before taking in the view stretching along East Broad Street.

Walk down the hallway and spot those southeastern Downtown landmarks where I’ve spent my working days.

And finally, take a bird’s-eye look at the Ohio Statehouse, the Columbus Commons and the view down South High Street.

Before returning to the elevator, stop in the east-facing hallway to appreciate a large mural local artist Mandi Caskey painted to depict the state’s official symbols, such as the white trillium flower, the cardinal, the buckeye tree, and the white-tailed deer.

Can you spot the Adena Pipe?

Once outside the Rhodes Tower, walk west on Broad Street. Just before reaching North High Street, you’ll come to the recently unveiled life-sized bronze newsboy statue commemorating the 110th anniversary of Charity Newsies.

On a cold day in 1907, three men saw a boy in tattered clothing selling newspapers at this very same corner. They sold passers-by his remaining papers and gave him enough money to buy new clothes. That charitable act began the organization that continues to raise funds to provide thousands of central Ohio children with new clothing, most notably by the white-coverall-clad volunteers who sell special-edition copies of The Columbus Dispatch on the second Saturday of December.

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