Discovering the Colorful History of Columbus

Commemorating Columbus' Sesquicentennial 1856 - 2006
By Artist / Designer David Reiser


The mural reveals important moments in the city's development by "peeling through" eight of the numerous layers of time from the present to the past. An aspect of the mural is the transition of color through the piece. It was intentional to use black and white as the most recent history, then to sepia tones and the addition of more color for further back in time.

A. Founding

The city's history began with its founding on May 28, 1856. That layer shows 3 of the 13 founders coming to Columbus. Those depicted are, from left, Jacob Louis, Vincent Kummer, and John Browner.

B. Pawnee Indians

Intentionally positioned over one of the oxen is a bison from a previous layer in time to show what was here before the founders arrived by representing the Pawnee Indian tribes in the area with bison and teepees.

C. William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) 

Another layer is a portrait of William F. Cody, more commonly known as Buffalo Bill, because the first exhibition of the world famous Wild West show, organized with Frank and Luther North, was held in Columbus.

D. Power

Also included is a layer to note the construction of the Loup River Public Power House in the 1930's.

E. Railroad

Below both the Loup and Buffalo Bill layers is the late model "General" locomotive layer depicting the importance the railroad has had in the city's growth and development.

F. Industry

The layer on the left side of the mural includes the Behlen Manufacturing water tower and a modern train. The water tower helps symbolize industrial growth and the modern train shows something old being replaced by something new.

G. Agriculture

The contrast is not only exemplified through the trains or the bison and ox, but also with grain silos in the agricultural layer of the painting. The grain silos are juxtaposed with the teepees, to show the teepees that once dotted the plains have been replaced with the silos.

H. Columbus Arch

The Columbus Arch tops the entire composition because it is a primary and recognizable symbol of the city. There were 2 archways that welcomed visitors to Columbus traveling Highway 30 (also known as the Lincoln Highway) in the 1940's and 1950's, one located near the intersection of 23rd Street and 23rd Avenue and the other at the north end of the viaduct near the intersection of 13th Street and 33rd Avenue

I. Peeling Back Time

A self portrait of the artist "peeling back" the layers of time.