From the beautiful green spaces to the miles of walking paths, the Scioto Mile has enjoyed tremendous popularity since it began life as part of a downtown Columbus rehabilitation project almost 10 years ago.
Along with this project came new art for the city to enjoy: the Scioto Deer.
In 2014, songwriter and artist Terry Allen was commissioned to create art to bring new life to the Scioto Mile. Later that year, Allen delivered what is now called the Scioto Lounge and created an attraction that residents of Columbus have enjoyed ever since.
The Scioto Lounge is home to three bronze deer sculptures, known as the Scioto Deer, which were placed in different locations around the Scioto Mile. Two of the statues sit behind the COSI building while the third, arguably the best-known, leans intently over the rail of the Rich Street bridge as if watching the city.
Get to know the artist
Terry Allen grew up in Lubbock, Texas before moving to Los Angeles, California to attend Chouinard Art Institute. After graduating from the institute, he would go on to receive many fellowships and awards throughout his career. This includes a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant given to those who demonstrate exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability for the arts.
Since their installation, the deer have become quite the talking point for many, especially when it comes to each statue’s human-like positioning. Aside from the watchful deer on the bridge, the other two statues are doing similar – lounging – activities. One sits at the top of the steps in Genoa Park, watching people go by, and has a beautiful view of the city skyline. The third statue, the only doe in the series, relaxes in the grass, leaning back and taking in the beautiful city of Columbus.
It all begins with the word “Scioto,” which, in a local Native American language, means “deer” or “hairy deer.” Long before Columbus was a bustling city, there was a large deer population in the area – so large, in fact, that deer hair would sometimes pollute the Downtown part of the Scioto River.
Deer themselves are more related to the city’s culture than some may realize, making them the perfect subjects for Allen’s sculptures. The humanization of the statues not only create a relaxing environment for people to enjoy, but also draw them to want to be around the deer. You can pose with them for a photo, allow your kids to play with them or just sit and take in the beautiful views of Columbus.