What Was Columbus Like In The 1950s? This Old Footage From Reader’s Digest Will Give You A Glimpse

I’ve been going for a lot of walks lately, but one of my favorites has to be taking a walk down memory lane.

Oh, man. That was a joke even my dad would be ashamed of. But nonetheless, it’s true. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all feeling a little bit nostalgic right now. So until we can safely gather together and create new memories, I thought we could take a peek back at life in Columbus throughout the years.

Today, we’re taking a deep dive into one of the most interesting vintage Columbus videos I’ve ever seen. This particular video was put together by Reader’s Digest. The popular magazine was visiting Columbus in the late 1950s to conduct market research on the effective use of advertising.

They chose Columbus due to its reputation as a test city, and the video frequently calls our town “Columbus, Test City, USA”. Overall, the video is an interesting glimpse into the lives of white, middle to upper-class Columbus residents during the middle of the 20th century.

The video starts with some grainy footage of the Columbus skyline, which to be honest, doesn’t look all that different.

Right off the bat, Reader’s Digest is ready to talk about the test market here in Columbus.

Throughout the video, various Columbus residents are interviewed and given an opportunity to plug Reader’s Digest.

Interview subjects ranged from your average Columbus resident to company CEOs and Police Captains.

For me personally, the most eye-popping moment came at the end when Reader’s Digest analyzed their readership, proudly announcing that poorer neighborhoods on the southeast side of the city had lower subscription rates than high-end neighborhoods like Upper Arlington and Bexley.

The video is an interesting glimpse into the life of some Columbus residents and into the world of advertising in general during the 1950s and 1960s in America.

I’m sure you can’t wait to take a look for yourself, so you can watch the full video below.


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