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Welcome to our town, Athens, Ohio.

We have assembled a snapshot of our community information to get you acquainted with Athens, Ohio.


Athens is a college town, with a university based population of over 25,000, of which most are university students.  The total permanent population of the city of Athens is just over 6,100.

As of the census of 2000, there were 21,342 people, 6,271 households, and 1,906 families residing in the city.  In the city the population was spread out with 6.7% under the age of 18 to 24, 13.7% from 25 to 44, 8.0% from 45 to 64, and 4.9% who were 65 years or older.  The median age was 22 years.  For every 100 females there were 88.2 males.  For every 100 females age 18 or over, there were 86.9 males.

The first permanent European settlers arrived in Athens in 1797.  In 1800, the townsite was first surveyed and plotted, but was not incorporated as a village until 1811.  In the meantime, Ohio became a state in 1803, and Ohio University was chartered in 1804 becoming the first institution of higher learning in the Northwest Territory.  Previously part of Washington County, Ohio, Athens County was formed in 1805.

The earliest industry in the area was salt production, followed by iron production and coal extraction.  Today, the largest employer in the county is Ohio University.

In 1843, the Hocking Canal opened, enabling shipping from the Ohio River up the Hocking River, which passes through Athens, to Nelsonville, Ohio, and points beyond.  However, the canal was closed during cold winters when it froze over.  The first railroad reached Athens in 1857.  In the 1800's, an interurban line opened between Athens and Nelsonville and operated for some years.

The Athens State Hospital, opened in 1874.  This located on high ground to the south of town and to the south of the Hocking River, and in the late 1800's was the town's largest employer.  The state hospital was eventually decommissioned and the property was deed to Ohio University and is now known as The Ridges.

Starting in 1969, the Hocking River was partly relocated and partly channelized for a stretch of several miles around the town, moving the river hundreds of feet to the south so that the flood plain, formerly south of the river, was now north of the river and since has been extensively developed.

Ohio University is the largest employer in Athens County.  Coal was once a huge source of employment in the county, but is now a very minor source.  One of the more interesting manufacturing companies that once existed in Athens was Midget Motors Corporation, makers of the small automobile, the King Midget.  Recent development of the East State Street corridor has brought significant restaurant, shopping, and motel choices to the community.  Athens is known for its local food economy, featuring a significant amount of organic produce, sold largely through a year-round farmers' market held on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Athens is located in the unglaciated Alleghany Plateau.  The county extends west from the Ohio River.  Athens is located mostly on and around a south-jutting ridge bordered by a loop in the Hocking River.  The underlying geology is mostly sandstone and shale.

The city receives all its water supply from wells in unconsolidated aquifers, and is reputed to be one of the largest cities in the United States to do so.

Strouds Run State Park is located just outside the city, bordering the city line.  The park features 2606 acres of wooded hills, including many bluffs and rock shelters, centered around a man made lake.

The City of Athens has recently established a preserve project, currently including some 345 acres, to save land from development adjacent to the state park.  The preserve includes an 85 acre old growth forest known as "Hawk Woods."

Athens is served by several news publications:

Ohio University's telecommunication center provides public television and radio:

  • FM Public Radio: WOUB-FM, Athens 91.3 FM (
  • AM Public Radio: WOUB-AM, 1340 AM (Athens only)
  • Internet Radio: ACRN (All Campus Radio Network)
  • Public Television: WOUB-TV, broadcast channel 20
  • Public Television: WOUB-DT, broadcast digital channel 27

Private broadcast media include:

  • WXTQ-FM and WATH-AM (Athens)
  • WSEO-FM and WAIS-AM (Nelsonville)
  • WEAK-LPFM, 106.7 "Union Station" (Athens Oldies)