In 1963 the Ohio State Legislature approved the construction of a 1200 space parking garage to be connected to the Ohio Statehouse. This wasn't to be any ordinary parking garage, but one hidden beneath the earth to ensure that Ohio's Capitol Building and its grounds were kept pristine for the people of Ohio.
Construction on the underground garage began on June 21, 1963 when 40 feet of dirt was dug up to build the three-level structure. Various Statehouse statues were moved, packed and stored during construction until they were placed back into position after the project. This included the massive McKinley Memorial located at the center of Capitol Square.
Not actually constructed beneath the Statehouse, but rather beneath the lawns and plazas of Capitol Square, excavation was no closer than 40 feet to the Statehouse to eliminate possible weakening of walls. The U-shaped garage measures 650 foot along High Street and 342 feet along both Broad and State Streets.
The plan to build the parking garage did not come without some controversy. Many citizens joined together to protest the digging up of existing trees on Capitol Square. The public uproar was quieted with the pledge that the shady landscape would be replaced. Any tree not affected was retained and protected during construction, and several new trees and landscaping were added to what is actually the roof of the garage.
With a final price tag of $6.6 million, 514 days passed from the ground breaking to opening day.
When the parking garage finally opened in November, 1964, a total of 630 cars entered on the first day, and parking rates were 25 cents for the first 30 minutes and 40 cents for an hour.
Today, the Ohio Statehouse underground parking garage continues to serve the needs of state government and visitors throughout Ohio and around the globe, while the grounds above continue to serve as a gathering place for all Ohioans.
August 22, 2012