Here are the six freak monuments and statues of Ohio

The late lamented King of Kings statue delighting a visitor. Image: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr/creative commons.

The Buckeye State: the home of many a famous white man and the state that made Trump president. Ohio is known for many things and has a rich bounty of cultural offerings for the rest of the United States.

The most underappreciated of all these offerings is the truly bizarre and diverse array of pointless, needless statues and monuments it has scattered across the state. From the Son of God to literally just fucking corn, here are some of its standout weirdos.

Field of Corn

Kicking off our list is Field of Corn, also known as Cornhenge, in Dublin, Ohio. Lying just outside the state’s capital, Cornhenge functions as the most redundant art installation on the face of this earth.

Image: Web2Jordan/Wikipedia Commons.

If you aren’t already aware, Ohio is effectively functions as a flat, heart-shaped cornfield. To fill an empty field with a series of statues of corn is the equivalent of finding a piece of land, building a carpark, then subsequently filling every space with an immovable stone car.

World’s Largest Gavel

You can’t get through a list of statues without coming across a “World’s Largest”, and Ohio’s statue roster is home to one of them: The World’s Largest Gavel. Not surprisingly this statue is located outside the Supreme Court of the state in Columbus, Ohio and stands at 30 feet long and 13 feet tall.

Image: Sam Howzit/Flickr/Creative commons.

A little research will show you how widely the statue is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, with glowing TripAdvisor reviews such as “great”, “cool landmark”, and “it’s a gavel”.

If you’re looking to see a worldwide number one, look no further than this justice-serving masterpiece.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Statue

In the capital of Ohio you’ll find a monument commemorating a man who is not from the state, has never lived in the state, nor has done anything of significance in the state.

That is, except for winning the 1970 Mr. World title at the Veterans Auditorium in Columbus. So in 2012, the Ohio government inexplicably decided to create and unveil a statue honouring The Austrian Oak’s feat from 42 years previous. (The photo is from its unveiling.)

Image: Aisupova/Wikimedia Commons.

This was all well in good until literally less than two years later when it was decided the Veterans Auditorium would be shut and brutally bulldozed, leaving Arnie to sit alone an a vacant lot for several months.

Now this statue – of a man who, remember, has absolutely no link to any part of the state of Ohio – has been relocated to a random part of downtown, to be revelled at in confusion.

Kings of Kings/Lux Mundi

If you’re going to visit southwestern Ohio without visiting the building-sized of Son of God, then have you really visited southwestern Ohio at all?

The true colossuses of freak Ohio monuments, these are the King of Kings and Lux Mundi statues in Monroe, Ohio, funded by and displayed in front of the Solid Rock chain megachurch.

 

Image: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr/creative commons.

In 2004, Solid Rock dropped a sweet $250,000 to build King of Kings (aka Touchdown Jesus, aka Big Butter Jesus), a massive bust of Jesus Christ outside of the church, built entirely out of the incredibly flammable Styrofoam and fibreglass. Six years later, the statue was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, down to itsnightmare-inducing metal skeleton:

A screenshot of the report on WCPO Cincinnati.

Rather than, you know, maybe scrapping the project entirely and donating that quarter of a million dollars to charity, the church decided to make a newer, stronger Jesus to watch over its pond. Now, today we have Lux Mundi, which has stood in King of King’s place since 2012.

Image: Traveler 100/Wikimedia commons.

Traders World Animal Statues

Also in Monroe, you can find the least holy statues in the entire state. Traders World, “the Midwest’s largest and most colorful market”, is a flea market, albeit one that generally functions as an abandoned field. It’s littered with statues, all of them incredibly detailed, realistic depictions of wild animals.

“Detailed animal statues,” I hear you ask, “What makes them so realistic?” The answer to that question is this: Each and every single statue at Traders World is fitted with an anatomically correct set of penis and testicles.

Image: Traders World.

What makes this site even more extraordinary is that you can find this gallery of ceramic horse penises directly next door to Lux Mundi and previously King of Kings. This glorious juxtaposition makes it a must-see.

Warm Glow Candle Factory

Right, full disclosure: this is not technically in Ohio. But anyone traveling from Ohio going west or to Ohio coming east will have come across this trailblazer in structural marketing.

Image courtesy of the Warm Glow Candle Factory Facebook page.

Behold: The Warm Glow Candle Factory, in Richmond, Indiana: home of some nice smelling wax and this massive fucking statue of a candle. It spins its USP as selling iconic “lumpy” candles, as can be seen in the statue replica. The statue’s colour has changed form year to year in a personal identity crisis of what colour beige fits it best.

Image courtesy of the Warm Glow Candle Factory Facebook page.

The beauty of the Warm Glow candle statue is that, as you’re saying goodbye to the Buckeye State, you can almost immediately say hello to the other freak monuments the rest of the Midwest has to offer. 

Sarah Manavis tweets as @SarahManavis.

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Urgently needed: Timely, more detailed standardized data on US evictions

Graffiti asking for rent forgiveness is seen on a wall on La Brea Ave amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Los Angeles, California. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week the Eviction Lab, a team of eviction and housing policy researchers at Princeton University, released a new dashboard that provides timely, city-level US eviction data for use in monitoring eviction spikes and other trends as Covid restrictions ease. 

In 2018, Eviction Lab released the first national database of evictions in the US. The nationwide data are granular, going down to the level of a few city blocks in some places, but lagged by several years, so their use is more geared toward understanding the scope of the problem across the US, rather than making timely decisions to help city residents now. 

Eviction Lab’s new Eviction Tracking System, however, provides weekly updates on evictions by city and compares them to baseline data from past years. The researchers hope that the timeliness of this new data will allow for quicker action in the event that the US begins to see a wave of evictions once Covid eviction moratoriums are phased out.

But, due to a lack of standardization in eviction filings across the US, the Eviction Tracking System is currently available for only 11 cities, leaving many more places facing a high risk of eviction spikes out of the loop.

Each city included in the Eviction Tracking System shows rolling weekly and monthly eviction filing counts. A percent change is calculated by comparing current eviction filings to baseline eviction filings for a quick look at whether a city might be experiencing an uptick.

Timely US eviction data for a handful of cities is now available from the Eviction Lab. (Courtesy Eviction Lab)

The tracking system also provides a more detailed report on each city’s Covid eviction moratorium efforts and more granular geographic and demographic information on the city’s evictions.

Click to the above image to see a city-level eviction map, in this case for Pittsburgh. (Courtesy Eviction Lab)

As part of their Covid Resource, the Eviction Lab together with Columbia Law School professor Emily Benfer also compiled a scorecard for each US state that ranks Covid-related tenant protection measures. A total of 15 of the 50 US states plus Washington DC received a score of zero because those states provided little if any protections.

CityMetric talked with Peter Hepburn, an assistant professor at Rutgers who just finished a two-year postdoc at the Eviction Lab, and Jeff Reichman, principal at the data science research firm January Advisors, about the struggles involved in collecting and analysing eviction data across the US.

Perhaps the most notable hurdle both researchers addressed is that there’s no standardized reporting of evictions across jurisdictions. Most evictions are reported to county-level governments, however what “reporting” means differs among and even within each county. 

In Texas, evictions go through the Justice of the Peace Courts. In Virginia they’re processed by General District Courts. Judges in Milwaukee are sealing more eviction case documents that come through their courtroom. In Austin, Pittsburgh and Richmond, eviction addresses aren’t available online but ZIP codes are. In Denver you have to pay about $7 to access a single eviction filing. In Alabama*, it’s $10 per eviction filing. 

Once the filings are acquired, the next barrier is normalizing them. While some jurisdictions share reporting systems, many have different fields and formats. Some are digital, but many are images of text or handwritten documents that require optical character recognition programs and natural language processors in order to translate them into data. That, or the filings would have to be processed by hand. 

“There's not enough interns in the world to do that work,” says Hepburn.


Aggregating data from all of these sources and normalizing them requires knowledge of the nuances in each jurisdiction. “It would be nice if, for every region, we were looking for the exact same things,” says Reichman. “Instead, depending on the vendor that they use, and depending on how the data is made available, it's a puzzle for each one.”

In December of 2019, US Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Rob Portman of Ohio introduced a bill that would set up state and local grants aimed at reducing low-income evictions. Included in the bill is a measure to enhance data collection. Hepburn is hopeful that the bill could one day mean an easier job for those trying to analyse eviction data.

That said, Hepburn and Reichman caution against the public release of granular eviction data. 

“In a lot of cases, what this gets used for is for tenant screening services,” says Hepburn. “There are companies that go and collect these data and make them available to landlords to try to check and see if their potential tenants have been previously evicted, or even just filed against for eviction, without any sort of judgement.”

According to research by Eviction Lab principal Matthew Desmond and Tracey Shollenberger, who is now vice president of science at Harvard’s Center for Policing Equity, residents who have been evicted or even just filed against for eviction often have a much harder time finding equal-quality housing in the future. That coupled with evidence that evictions affect minority populations at disproportionate rates can lead to widening racial and economic gaps in neighborhoods.

While opening up raw data on evictions to the public would not be the best option, making timely, granular data available to researchers and government officials can improve the system’s ability to respond to potential eviction crises.

Data on current and historical evictions can help city officials spot trends in who is getting evicted and who is doing the evicting. It can help inform new housing policy and reform old housing policies that may put more vulnerable citizens at undue risk.

Hepburn says that the Eviction Lab is currently working, in part with the ACLU, on research that shows the extent to which Black renters are disproportionately affected by the eviction crisis.

More broadly, says Hepburn, better data can help provide some oversight for a system which is largely unregulated.

“It's the Wild West, right? There's no right to representation. Defendants have no right to counsel. They're on their own here,” says Hepburn. “I mean, this is people losing their homes, and they're being processed in bulk very quickly by the system that has very little oversight, and that we know very little about.”

A 2018 report by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Taskforce on Eviction Prevention and Response found that of Philadelphia’s 22,500 eviction cases in 2016, tenants had legal representation in only 9% of them.

Included in Hepburn’s eviction data wishlist is an additional ask, something that is rarely included in any of the filings that the Eviction Lab and January Advisors have been poring over for years. He wants to know the relationship between money owed and monthly rent.

“At the individual level, if you were found to owe $1,500, was that on an apartment that's $1,500 a month? Or was it an apartment that's $500 a month? Because that makes a big difference in the story you're telling about the nature of the crisis, right? If you're letting somebody get three months behind that's different than evicting them immediately once they fall behind,” Hepburn says.

Now that the Eviction Tracking System has been out for a week, Hepburn says one of the next steps is to start reaching out to state and local governments to see if they can garner interest in the project. While he’s not ready to name any names just yet, he says that they’re already involved in talks with some interested parties.

*Correction: This story initially misidentified a jurisdiction that charges $10 to access an eviction filing. It is the state of Alabama, not the city of Atlanta. Also, at the time of publication, Peter Hepburn was an assistant professor at Rutgers, not an associate professor. 

Alexandra Kanik is a data reporter at CityMetric.