Columbia is a city in the U.S. state of Missouri and the county seat of Boone County. Founded in 1821, it is home to the University of Missouri and is the principal city of the Columbia Metropolitan Area. It is Missouri's fourth most-populous city, with an estimated population of 120,612 in 2016. As a midwestern college town, the city has a reputation for progressive politics, public art, and powerful journalism. The tripartite establishment of Stephens College (1833), the University of Missouri (1839), and Columbia College (1851) has ever since made the city a center of education, culture, and athletic competition; these three schools surround the city's central business district to the east, south, and north. At the center of Downtown 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. Never a major center of manufacturing, the city also depends on healthcare, insurance, and technology businesses. Several companies, such as Shelter Insurance, Carfax, 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. The Missouri Tigers, the state's only major college athletic program, play football at Faurot Field and basketball at Mizzou Arena as members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
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