Experiments conducted quantify the macroscopic hydrodynamic characteristics of various scale 2-D bubble columns, which include dispersed and coalesced bubble regimes characterized by two flow conditions (4- and 3-region flow) with coherent flow structures. Hydrodynamic behavior is analyzed based on flow visualization and a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system. Columns operated in the 4-region flow condition comprise descending, vortical, fast bubble and central plume regions. The fast bubble flow region moves in a wavelike manner, and thus the flow in the vicinity of this region is characterized macroscopically in terms of wave properties. In columns greater than 20 cm in width, the transition from the dispersed bubble flow regime to the 4- and then to 3-region flow in the coalesced bubble regime occurs progressively with gas velocities at 1 and 3 cm/s, respectively. The demarcation of flow regimes is directly related to measurable coherent flow structures. The instantaneous and time-averaged liquid velocity and holdup profiles provided by the PIV system are presented in light of the macroscopic flow structure in various 2-D bubble columns. Numerical simulations demonstrate that the volume of fluid method can provide the time-dependent behavior of dispersed bubbling flows and account for the coupling effects of pressure field and the liquid velocity on the bubble motion. Comparison of computational results with PIV results for two different bubble injector arrangements is satisfactory.