Columbia is a city in 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 and fastest growing city, with an estimated 121,717 residents in 2017.
As a Midwestern college town, the city has a reputation for progressive politics, persuasive journalism, and public art. The tripartite establishment of Stephens College, the University of Missouri, and Columbia College, which surround the city's central business district to the east, south, and north, has made Columbia a center of learning. 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. Companies such as Shelter Insurance, Carfax, and Slackers CDs and Games, were founded in the city.