Columbia is a city in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is the county seat of Boone County and home to the University of Missouri. Founded in 1821, it is the principal city of the five-county Columbia metropolitan area. It is Missouri's fourth most-populous and fastest growing city, with an estimated 123,195 residents in 2019.
As a Midwestern college town, Columbia has a reputation for progressive politics, persuasive journalism, and public art. The tripartite establishment of Stephens College (1833), the University of Missouri (1839), and Columbia College (1851), which surround the city's Downtown to the east, south, and north, has made the city a center of learning. At its center is 8th Street, also known as the Avenue of the Columns, which connects Francis Quadrangle and Jesse Hall to the Boone County Courthouse and the City Hall. Originally an agricultural town, the cultivation of the mind is Columbia's chief economic concern today. The city also depends on healthcare, insurance, and technology businesses, but has never been a major center of manufacturing. Companies such as Shelter Insurance, Carfax, Veterans United Home Loans, and Slackers CDs and Games, were founded in the city. Cultural institutions include the State Historical Society of Missouri, the Museum of Art and Archaeology, and the annual True/False Film Festival and the Roots N Blues Festival.