Upper Arlington is an affluent suburban city in Franklin County, Ohio, United States, on the northwest side of the Columbus metropolitan area. The population was 33,686 at the 2000 census. It is bordered on the west by the Scioto River, on the north and east by Columbus, and on the south by Marble Cliff and Grandview Heights. The Olentangy River and the main campus of the Ohio State University are a short distance to the east of Upper Arlington. Downtown Columbus lies to the southeast, its skyline visible across the OSU farmland research facilities extending along Upper Arlington's eastern border.
The city is located on relatively high ground located between the Olentangy and Scioto rivers. Two ravines cut through the city. The Slate Run in the northwest corner flows into the Scioto River. Turkey Run is longer. It originates in the north then runs southwards until it makes an eastward bend around Reed Rd. Then, it flows eastwards through the OSU Golf Course. The run is used as a storm drain at points, has been dammed in the Ohio State course and runs through concrete pipes at two points. The soil is glacial till, like the rest of Columbus, and is suitable for agriculture, supporting a research farm operated by The Ohio State University.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.87 square miles (25.56 km2), of which, 9.84 square miles (25.49 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2) is water.
Upper Arlington was founded by the real estate developers Ben and King Thompson, who purchased most of the farmland that was to become Upper Arlington from James Miller in 1913. This land was directly adjacent to the Marble Cliff Quarry Co. They originally wanted to call it the "Country Club District" after the Country Club development in Kansas City, but by 1917, the community became known as "Upper Arlington", in reference to its southern neighbor of Arlington (now known as Marble Cliff). The Upper Arlington Company was incorporated that year and operated out of a field office built on the former Miller farm; that building is presently the Miller Park branch of the Upper Arlington Library (see no. 4 on the map).
The development proceeded according to the Garden City–inspired plan by landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr., which called for following the contours of the land to form curving streets, copiously lined with trees, rather than a gridded street layout. This development style gave the oldest district in Upper Arlington (at its southernmost end) its distinctively pleasant, park-like feel, though the lack of roadway predictability can lead to some frustrating driving experiences even for those familiar with the neighborhood. The area features numerous small green spaces.
One of the many historic homes in the Upper Arlington Historic DistrictIn 1916, the development was interrupted (and largely undone) when the National Guard used the area as a temporary training camp called Camp Willis, after Ohio's governor at the time, Frank B. Willis. Eight thousand servicemen were trained at Camp Willis and then dispatched against Pancho Villa on the Mexican border. The camp was dismantled by September 1916. Development resumed shortly afterwards, and on March 20, 1918, Upper Arlington incorporated as a village, with a population of 200 and James Miller, the original landowner, serving as the first mayor. The Mallway business district, which was constructed in the 1920s, was the first commercial district in Upper Arlington. Upper Arlington became a city on February 8, 1941, and annexed surrounding land as its population grew. Most annexation occurred in the late 1940s through 1960. The two largest annexations occurred in 1954 and 1955, by which the city more than doubled its surface area.