Streetscape and Friendship Way

Friendship WayThe Streetscape project was started more than ten years ago in an effort to improve the appearance of downtown Columbus. In addition to new street lights and landscaping, brick sidewalks run for five blocks along Washington, the main street.

The "Adopt-A-Brick" program gave residents the opportunity to have their names and messages inscribed on the bricks for a fee. Over $125,000 were raised to help pay for the improvements and to set up a maintenance fund for the area.

The project also added new trees and colorful banners to the downtown, but the bricks are what interest children the most. There are more than 5,000 bricks inscribed with family names, birthdates and other occasions that people wanted to remember in this way, and kids have fun trying to find their families' special bricks.

Friendship Way is a natural extension of the Streetscape project. Located in the heart of downtown, this sidewalk runs between two buildings from the main street to a city parking lot. Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong and other officials joined those in our sister city, Miyoshi, Japan, to work together on the project.

Bricks from walkwayThe walk is paved with bricks bearing the names of mostly Japanese families and companies, and a large tablet inscribed in English and Japanese identifies the walkway. It says, "The bricks that form this walkway are a gift of Friendship from Mayor Michio Tsukamoto and the citizens of Miyoshi Japan."

People who live in Columbus enjoy getting together, and the opening of Friendship Way was a perfect occasion to have a community party. Mayor Armstrong and Mayor Tsukamoto dedicated the walkway on August 5, 1998. Refreshments were served, schoolchildren displayed artwork and performed, and Garrett Uyeno played koto and shamisen (Japanese harp and banjo, respectively).

Close up of neon lightingA special part of Friendship way is the neon sculpture, a gift from the people of Miyoshi. Kids love the way the brightly-colored shapes come to life in the evening. The lights give the walkway a very different appearance from others around the city, and it's just another feature that makes Columbus so unique.

Cork Marcheschi of San Francisco, California created the neon sculpture, and William A. Johnson of Seattle, Washington was the project designer and landscape architect of Friendship Way.

About Neon

A Frenchman named Georges Claude made the first neon sign around 1910, and in the early 1920s the technology was brought to America. Old signs are usually made with neon or argon gas in a vacuum tube. The gas is activated by electricity, causing the lights to glow. Today it's possible to make dozens of colors by combining different gases. Krypton, xenon and helium are just a few that are used. When neon signs were first introduced, people were fascinated by their beautiful colors. Plastic signs came into favor in the 1960s, so neon lost popularity. In recent years, craftspeople have used neon to create wonderful works of art, and the lights are in demand once again.

Dedication plaque

Looking west on

Friendship Way

Neon lights of

Friendship Way

Looking east at

the neon installation

Friendship Way

to the east

Neon close up

Neon close up

Bricks from walkway

Bricks from walkway

© 2001 Marilyn J. Brackney, All Rights Reserved

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