It became a small farming community after a local farmer named John Hilliard set up a railroad station in 1886. The town grew around the stop, which became known as Hilliard's Station. If fact, most of the town's residents called the town Hilliards (with a pronounced "s" on the end) until the 1950s, when city council decided to inform everybody that the town's name was actually Hilliard. This can still be seen today, as old maps of central Ohio sometimes call the town Hilliards.
The Hilliard City School District is a school district that encompasses the city of Hilliard itself; a portion within Columbus that is about the same size as that within Hilliard; as well as parts of the city of Dublin, neighboring townships within Franklin County, and a portion of Union County. There are thirteen elementary schools (Alton Darby, Avery, Beacon, Britton, Brown, Darby Creek, Hilliard Crossing, Hilliard Horizon, Hoffman Trails, JW Reason, Norwich, Ridgewood, and Scioto Darby), two sixth-grade schools (Station and Tharp), three middle schools (Heritage, Memorial, and Weaver), and two high schools (Darby and Davidson) in the Hilliard City School District. The high school sports teams are named the Panthers and Wildcats, respectively. As of 2006, a third high school, to be named Hilliard Bradley High School, is being built. In addition, a fourteenth elementary school, to be named Washington Elementary School, will be the first Hilliard school located in Dublin. It also has a Catholic school, St. Brendans.
For recreation, Hilliard has two pools (West and East), a Municipal Center/Senior Center next to the West pool, YMCA, and many public baseball fields and tennis courts.