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WOSU-TV's Columbus Neighborhoods Series Profiles Bexley

WOSU-TV presents the tenth installment of the Columbus Neighborhoods series. This latest documentary profiles the city of Bexley. FROM THE DOCUMENTARY: Even ideal communities face challenges. Despite the fact that the city limits and the population have remained unchanged for decades, change is inevitable. The newest Columbus Neighborhoods documentary traces the history of Bexley from its beginnings up to the present day. WOSU's Brent Davis wrote the script and co-produced the program. He says there are a number of misconceptions about this enclave east of downtown Columbus. “I think people outside of Bexley have some misconceptions about Bexley,” Davis says. “I think they think everybody there is rich, I think they think everybody there is white, and they often think that most people there are Jewish. And it turns out that none of those things are true. Bexley is more diverse than people think. The community is about 20 percent to 25 percent Jewish and there is more economic diversity than many people think in Bexley.” Bexley was incorporated as a village in 1908. Several years later, Davis says, the population exploded. “The period of the most rapid growth in Bexley came in the 1920s when the population quadrupled. That was a time of prosperity - the automobile was taking over. And Bexley is an automobile suburb, it's one of the first and the automobile was fundamental in Bexley's design and layout,” Davis says. Maybe so, but the attractiveness of Main Street today has people abandoning their cars for leisurely strolls. FROM THE DOCUMENTARY: “…on a Sunday afternoon people are walking through central Bexley to enjoy something that hasn't changed, the beautiful mature trees. So plentiful that the entire city has been designated an arboretum. It's the only town that can make such a claim. “There are so many mature and lovely trees and they are all over,” Davis says. “And it's one of the outstanding and notable features of Bexley. Particularly in the fall and spring.” Academics play an important part in the life of the city. Capital University occupies a large campus along Main Street. Scholarship excels in the city's school system and several private academies. FROM THE DOCUMENTARY: “When school's in session, Bexley's in the classroom. Either as students or working at institutions that are among Bexley's largest employers: the city school system, Capital, Columbus School for Girls, and St. Charles Academy. About a quarter of the city's population is Jewish; descendants of earlier residents who moved from Columbus to Bexley starting in the 1920s. “The Jewish community which was centered around the area where Nationwide Children’s Hospital is now, as that community prospered and those people moved up and out, it was a group migration because they wanted to be close to shops and stores that catered to them, kosher stores, that sort of thing and also synagogues and temples,” Davis says. The documentary profiles notable residents including sculptor Alfred Tibor. “Alfred Tibor was a Holocaust survivor. He made his way after a while to the United States and is quite noted for sculptures around the world, he has many sculptures in Bexley and Columbus. Many of them incorporate themes that come from his Holocaust experiences,” Davis says. The documentary also highlights some of Bexley's notable attractions. Among the most well-known is the Drexel Theater. “They found out that on a given night only about 20 percent of the audience is from Bexley. So people are coming from beyond Bexley for the experience of seeing a movie in that old-style theater; that theater that dates back to the Depression,” Davis says. FROM THE DOCUMENTARY: As Bexley looks to the future there’s a recognition that a city that may not have been very diverse is becoming more so. The qualities that distinguish Bexley: its schools, its location, its small-town sensibilities, will continue to draw people to the city. We heard from WOSU’s Brent Davis who wrote and co-produced the Columbus Neighborhoods: Bexley documentary.