The mid-1960s marked another change for the University District. The Baby Boom started arriving. College kids, aged 18-22, flooded into the area in numbers that dwarfed the post-war influx of students. Ohio State Main Campus enrollment surged to nearly 50,000 students.

As the students poured in, families moved out of the noisy, crowded neighborhood.

Houses were snapped up by rental companies. Absentee landlords divided and subdivided and crowded as many kids as possible in the old houses, while performing as little maintenance as they could get away with.

Many magnificent old houses were torn down and replaced with cheap, ugly, high density apartment buildings.

The campus neighborhoods became the most densely populated area in the state of Ohio. Density approached that in New York City or Boston.

Crime exploded. The campus neighborhoods teemed with naive and incautious suburban and small-town kids with wallets and purses full of their parents' money. This proved an irresistible lure for criminals from the increasingly hardscrabble neighborhoods to the east and south. Burglaries and robberies became commonplace.

The shocking 1962 murder of Mary Andrews, the brutal slaying of William Sproat and Mary Petry in 1970, and a 500% increase in the number of rapes convinced area residents that the district was no longer safe for families, the elderly, or children.


Ohio State University, Main Campus enrollment, 1940-2000

Source: Ohio State University Registrar, Student Enrollment Reporting and Research Services

Advertisements for Indianola Shopping Center merchants of the 1960s and 1970s.

In May 1970, students rioted in opposition to the Vietnam War and battled state police and the Ohio National Guard. The university area became a war zone. Students threw bricks and bottles and the authorities answered with clubs, knee-knocker bullets, and tear gas. Windows were smashed and stores looted. The university was briefly closed.

Afterwards, the city largely wrote the area off as a student slum.

The mall reflected the neighborhood's changes. Students--not young families--were now the mall's principal costumers. By the late 1970s, the mall’s original stores were gone. Contractor and repair service offices, rental offices, carry-outs, pizza shops, sandwich shops, bars, a thrift store, and even a few social service agencies filled the mall.

Indianola Shopping Center merchants, 1978
Quick Pick Grocery
Talita's Taco House
Mid-America Sporting Goods
Salvation Army Thrift Store
Coffee System of Ohio
A-ACRO Appliance
Lynn Drug
Mary Jane Restaurant
Schisler Realty
D&M Super Sub
UniSys Pharmacy
Classic Real Estate