Hilltop Employment in the 1970s

In the mid-1970s, the City of Columbus embarked on a sequential planning effort to create information profiles and recommendations for all sections of the city. One section was the Greater Hilltop, categorized as area #15.

1980 aerial view of the Hilltop area, showing the Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital where ODOT and other state office currently stand, just west of I-70 and north of Broad Street.

The Hilltop Information Profile included a wealth of information about existing conditions in the neighborhood in the mid-1970s. One of the most interesting is the list of the top five employers in the Hilltop. The list evokes memories of a time when living-wage blue collar employment was accessible and sufficient to provide a high quality of life for individuals and families of diverse backgrounds.

Major Hilltop Employers in 1976

  1. Fisher Body, Division of GMC — 200 Georgesville Road

  2. Borden Chemical Company — 1625 W. Mound Street

  3. Midland-Ross Corporation — 4200 Surface Road

  4. Columbus State Hospital — 1960 W. Broad Street

  5. Columbus State Institute — 1601 W. Broad Street

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1. The Fisher Body, Division of GMC was opened in 1946 by General Motors. The Ternstedt plant employed about 5,500 at its peak. Originally a plant for the Fisher Body division, it was transferred to Delphi Automotive Systems in 1999. By the early 1990s, the 1.7 million-square-foot GM facility employed only 2,000 people and in fall 2005, Delphi declared bankruptcy. The maker of door-latch parts employed just over 400 by 2007 when it closed.

Columbus Plastic Products building at 1625 West Mound Street right after the structure was built in the early 1940s. The company operated here until 1966 when Borden took over the building. Later it was occupied by the United Way (1985) and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank (1995).

2. In the 1950s, the Borden Company moved into the printing ink, fertilizer, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics business. By 1968, Borden’s international chemical and petroleum divisions had grown so large that Borden created the Borden Inc. International division to manage them. Borden Chemical produced industrial resins, adhesives and related chemical products that provide sticking and bonding power and other performance enhancements for many applications. In 2004, Borden was purchased by Apollo Management for $649 million. At that time, Borden, based in Columbus, had 2,400 employees and 48 plants in nine countries. Part of Borden also became Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Inc., a global chemistry company still based in Columbus.

3. The Midland-Ross Corporation was an American steel, aerospace products, electronics, and automobile components manufacturer which existed from 1894 to 1986. In January 1963, Midland-Ross acquired the J. Leukart Machine Company of Columbus, Ohio, manufacturer of precision machining equipment. It was headquartered in Cleveland.

4. The Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital offered treatment and care for mentally ill patients. Patients were admitted by the Probate Court, or upon voluntary application, if suitable accommodations were available. The hospital acted as a training center for psychiatric residents, social workers, and nurses. Fees were determined by the Bureau of Support. The hospital was financed by State taxes and administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health. Demolished in 1991, it was located at 1960 West Broad Street, where state office buildings for the Ohio Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety are located today.

5. The Columbus State Institute provided diagnosis, treatment, care and training for mentally retarded* children and adults who were committed as mentally retarded by a probate court. It served the 31 counties in central and northwestern Ohio. The institute was financed by State taxes and administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections. It was located at 1601 West Broad Street, where the Columbus Developmental Center is located today.

*language quoted from the source material

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