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Franklin County is a county located in the central portion of the U.S. state of Ohio. As of 2019 census estimates, the population was 1,316,756, making it the most populous county in Ohio. Its county seat is Columbus, the state capital and most populous city in Ohio. The county was established on April 30, 1803, less than two months after Ohio became a state, and was named after Benjamin Franklin. Franklin County originally extended all the way north to Lake Erie before Ohio subdivided further into more counties.

Franklin County is included in the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Franklin County, particularly Columbus, has been a centerpiece for presidential and congressional politics, most notably the 2000 presidential election, the 2004 presidential election, and the 2006 midterm elections. Franklin County is home to one of the largest universities in the United States, The Ohio State University, which as of fall 2017 has an enrollment of 59,837 students on its main Columbus campus.

On March 30, 1803, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Franklin County. The county originally was part of Ross County. Residents named the county in honor of Benjamin Franklin. In 1816, Franklin County's Columbus became Ohio's state capital. Surveyors laid out the city in 1812, and officials incorporated it in 1816. Columbus was not Ohio's original capital, but the state legislature chose to move the state government there after its location for a short time at Chillicothe and at Zanesville. Columbus was chosen as the site for the new capital because of its central location within the state and access by way of major transportation routes (primarily rivers) at that time. The legislature chose it as Ohio's capital over a number of other competitors, including Franklinton, Dublin, Worthington, and Delaware.

On May 5, 1802 a group of prospective settlers founded the Scioto Company at the home of Rev. Eber B. Clark in Granby, Connecticut for the purpose of forming a settlement between the Muskingum River and Great Miami River in the Ohio Country. James Kilbourne was elected president and Josiah Topping secretary (McCormick 1998:7). On August 30, 1802 James Kilbourne and Nathaniel Little arrived at Colonel Thomas Worthington's home in Chillicothe, Ohio. They tentatively reserved land along the Scioto River on the Pickaway Plains for their new settlement (McCormick 1998:17).

On October 5, 1802, the Scioto Company met in Granby, Connecticut and decided not to purchase the lands along the Scioto River on the Pickaway Plains, but rather to buy land 30 miles (48 km) farther north from Dr. Jonas Stanbery and his partner, an American Revolutionary War general, Jonathan Dayton. Sixteen thousand acres (65 km?) were purchased along the Whetstone River (now known as the Olentangy River) at $1.50 per acre (McCormick 1998:19-27). This land was part of the United States Military District surveyed by Israel Ludlow in 1797 and divided into townships 5 miles (8.0 km) square.

Before the state legislature's decision in 1812, Columbus did not exist. The city was designed from the first as the state's capital, preparing itself for its role in Ohio's political, economic, and social life. In the years between first ground-breaking and the actual movement of the capital in 1816, Columbus and Franklin County grew significantly. By 1813, workers had built a penitentiary, and by the following year, residents had established the first church, school, and newspaper in Columbus. Workers completed the Ohio Statehouse in 1861. Columbus and Franklin County grew quickly in population, with the city having 700 people by 1815. Columbus officially became the county seat in 1824. By 1834, the population of Columbus was 4,000 people, officially elevating it to "city" status.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 544 square miles (1,410 km2), of which 532 square miles (1,380 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.1%) is water. The county is located in the Till Plains and the Appalachian Plateau land regions.

The county is drained by the Olentangy River and the Scioto River. Major creeks in the county include Big Darby Creek, Big Walnut Creek, and Alum Creek. There are two large reservoirs in the county, Hoover Reservoir and Griggs Reservoir.

Adjacent counties
Delaware County (north)
Fairfield County (southeast)
Licking County (east)
Madison County (west)
Pickaway County (south)
Union County (northwest)
Major highways
I-73 (future)
US 23
US 33
US 40
US 62
SR 3
SR 16
SR 104
SR 161
SR 257
SR 315
SR 317
SR 605
SR 665
SR 745
Historical population
Census Pop. %
1810 3,486
1820 10,292 195.2%
1830 14,741 43.2%
1840 25,049 69.9%
1850 42,909 71.3%
1860 50,361 17.4%
1870 63,019 25.1%
1880 86,797 37.7%
1890 124,087 43.0%
1900 164,460 32.5%
1910 221,567 34.7%
1920 283,951 28.2%
1930 361,055 27.2%
1940 388,712 7.7%
1950 503,410 29.5%
1960 682,962 35.7%
1970 833,249 22.0%
1980 869,132 4.3%
1990 961,437 10.6%
2000 1,068,978 11.2%
2010 1,163,414 8.8%
Est. 2019 1,316,756 13.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019
2010 census
As of the 2010 census, there were 1,163,414 people, 477,235 households, and 278,030 families living in the county. The population density was 2,186.1 inhabitants per square mile (844.1/km2). There were 527,186 housing units at an average density of 990.6 per square mile (382.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 69.2% white, 21.2% black or African American, 3.9% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 2.3% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 4.8% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 24.2% were German, 14.4% were Irish, 9.1% were English, 5.5% were Italian, and 5.0% were American.

Of the 477,235 households, 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 41.7% were non-families, and 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.05. The median age was 33.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,087 and the median income for a family was $62,372. Males had a median income of $45,920 versus $37,685 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,909. About 12.1% of families and 17.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.0% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.

For most of the 20th century, Franklin County was Republican leaning. Since the 1996 presidential election though, Franklin County has trended solidly Democratic. Columbus and most of its northern and western suburbs lean Democratic, while the more blue-collar southern section of the county leans Republican. In Congress, it is represented by Joyce Beatty (3rd), Troy Balderson (12th), and Steve Stivers (15th).

Presidential elections results
See also: Franklin County Government Center and Ohio county government

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Map of Franklin County with municipal and township labels
Franklin County is currently made up of 16 cities, 10 villages, and 17 townships.

Canal Winchester
Columbus (county seat)
Grandview Heights
Grove City
New Albany
Upper Arlington
Marble Cliff
Minerva Park
Montgomery ("paper" township coextensive with the city of Columbus)

Defunct Townships
Marion (completely annexed by the city of Columbus)
Census-designated places
Blacklick Estates
Huber Ridge
Lake Darby
Lincoln Village
Other unincorporated communities
New Rome
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