The 51 Neighborhoods of Cincinnati
West Price Hill
East Price Hill
Sedamsville is a tiny neighborhood of about 680 on the near west side of Cincinnati, right on the Ohio River. As with many of the west side neighborhoods on the river, Sedamsville used to be home to many manufacturing and industrial companies.
in the 30’s The Great Depression hit the country hard, including Sedamsville. the neighborhood began to lose many of the companies located there. then to make things even worse, in 1937 the Ohio River had one of the worst recorded floods ever. over one million people across the midwest were displaced and left homeless due to the damage it caused. back then, Cincinnati practically didn’t have any of flood protection it has today, and being that Sedamsville sits right on the river the neighborhood was hit hard. many people in Sedamsville lost everything to the flood, to the point where many families and companies left because it didn’t make financial sense to even attempt to rebuild.
after the flood, Cincinnati worked to try and make sure a flood of the magnitude seen in 1937 never negatively affected the city like it did again. one of the solutions to address the destruction seen on the west side was to raise and widen River Road (now U.S. Route 50) through Sedamsville to better protect the community. The Columbia Parkway project had been completed a few years beforehand and west siders wanted a similar thoroughfare they could use. another plan was to build a flood wall, a plan that wouldn’t require raising and widening the road. residents of Sedamsville organized and fought for River Road to be raised and widened, with many residents taking the position that they wouldn’t accept any solution other than this plan. the city eventually agreed to raise and widen River Road and the outcome was horrible for Sedamsville. in order to widen River Road, tons of businesses and homes had to be acquired and destroyed by the city. through this project, Sedamsville lost almost all of its business district and around 100 families were displaced from the neighborhood.
today, Sedamsville is quiet and quaint but hasn’t returned to its glory days of being a bustling and lively neighborhood. i love it though, and you should check it out!
Lower Price Hill
Lower Price Hill is a small, historically neglected neighborhood with a history of using activism and protest to get its needs met. the neighborhood consisted of mostly German and Irish residents until the 40’s, when things shifted and people from Appalachian Kentucky and Tennessee migrated to the neighborhood. Eventually the neighborhood became an Appalachian enclave. With the population shift, something happened around the 60’s/70’s where Lower Price Hill started to decline. It didn’t receive the attention it needed from the city so unemployment and poverty skyrocketed, petty crime went up, education levels for the neighborhood were bottoming out and a large number of students were dropping out of high school before graduating.
Lower Price Hill has always had a tight community full of active and involved residents, so people there definitely took notice to the lack of attention the neighborhood was receiving and decided to do something about. when the neighborhood’s dropout rate began to skyrocket, community members protested the lack of attention the school board was giving to the issue and worked to get the city to help address the lack of educational resources in the neighborhood.
during the 70’s, Cincinnati Public Schools faced a big budget shortfall. to address the deficit, the board decided to consolidate schools and ship students to other neighborhood schools. specifically, Oyler School in Lower Price Hill was one of the schools affected by this decision, and many of its students were going to be transferred to schools in the West End instead. students and community members were upset, because they felt the needs of smaller communities like Lower Price Hill weren’t being taken seriously and Oyler School was being unnecessarily closed. community members organized, protested, and put so much pressure on the Board of Education that they decided not to close Oyler School and make the students go elsewhere. these are only a few examples of Lower Price Hill fighting to be taken seriously by the city.
today, Lower Price Hill is a wonderful neighborhood that is finally beginning to revitalize, and Oyler School continues to serve the community to this day
Mount Airy is a really special neighborhood on the northwest tip of Cincinnati. bordered by neighborhoods including College Hill, Spring Grove Village, Northside and Westwood, Mount Airy is a diverse neighborhood of over 7000 people.
from a numbers standpoint, no Cincinnati neighborhood has declined more than Mount Airy has. over the past 40 years the number of families in the neighborhood who live under the poverty line has steadily increased, unemployment has more than doubled, and the household income has fallen. over the years it went from being a desirable suburban-like place like Rosewood to more of a pass-through neighborhood. Colerain Avenue (U.S. Route 27) is almost like an expressway that cuts through the neighborhood, carrying cars through the neighborhood to northern suburbs.
lots of poor decisions and lack of attention and investment from the city as an overall hurt the neighborhood over the years, as its main business district event went from being a popular shopping location among west siders to one filled with empty storefronts and revolving stores. it amazes me how much of a divide there is in Cincinnati and how often i’ve used the phrase “lack of attention and investment from the city” to describe certain neighborhoods i’ve visited so far. i’m going to process this a bit more when i visit Hyde Park soon.
i can’t talk about Mount Airy without looking at the Mount Airy Forest, a huge 1471-acre park in the middle of the neighborhood. one of the first urban reforestation projects in the country, the land now occupied by the forest used to suffer from poor soil composition and severe erosion due to bad agricultural practices. the land became so eroded that farms and homes in the area were known for sliding and shifting positions. the area was restored into a park during the 30’s and has tons of historical markers.
Mount Airy is a great neighborhood. like other neighborhoods such as South Cumminsville, North Fairmount, and Lower Price Hill, there are plenty of people here who are dedicated to improving the neighborhood and helping outsiders like you and I see how great of a place it was, still is, and will be in the future.
if you want to go back in time, Roselawn is the perfect place for you. Roselawn is a neighborhood of over 6,400 people located on Cincinnati’s far north side. bounded by other neighborhoods like Bond Hill, Carthage, and Hartwell, Roselawn has a unique history in that unlike its neighbors, it didn’t really experience growth until after WW2. before the 20’s, it was a neighborhood of few homes and few people. After WW2, people began moving in and the demand for homes in the neighborhood increased in part to its friendly residential environment.
in many ways Roselawn feels like an old, inner-ring suburb and not a neighborhood of a vibrant city. in the 50’s and 60’s when the urban cores of cities were declining nationwide, many suburbs started to see big commercial growth in terms of shopping centers and business offices. interestingly enough, Roselawn also experienced this commercial growth. during the 50’s, several big car-oriented shopping centers were built in the neighborhood including the Swifton Shopping Center, the first major shopping mall in the Cincinnati area. Roselawn experienced office growth as well – as urban cores experienced the decentralization of businesses and offices in their downtowns, P&G even built a 12 story office building in the middle of Roselawn’s business district called Hillcrest Tower, which is what the picture is of.
i said earlier that Roselawn would be the perfect place to visit if you wanted to go back in time because in many ways it still has remnants and reminders of suburbanization. like many older inner-ring suburbs, over the years Roselawn declined from the shopping and commercial sector it used to be. the Swifton Shopping Center eventually died because it couldn’t compete with newer malls like Kenwood and Tri-County. other shopping centers in the neighborhood declined as well. eventually companies started moving their offices in Roselawn back to downtown and to newer suburbs. today Roselawn is a cool neighborhood with a rich and important history, and i’m looking forward to indirectly learning even more about it when i explore Bond Hill directly to its south.
Hartwell is a quiet and the northernmost Cincinnati neighborhood. a mostly middle-class community, it started out as land named after a Vice President of a railroad company that had a station in the area. to entice people to move there, Mr. Hartwell promised to give anyone who bought a plot of land free railroad tickets. eventually Hartwell became a desirable suburb and annexed by Cincinnati in 1876.
with a lot of the neighborhoods i’ve visited so far, i’ve gotten to learn about their histories and how many of them were affected by interstate construction. being that Hartwell sits right at the I-75 and State Route 126 interchange, the neighborhood is no stranger to this.
I-75 is a very old highway, in fact one of the oldest american highways. the first portion of it was built during WW2 in 1941 in Lockland for an aircraft manufacturer to use. eventually, the state wanted to extend I-75 southward to Paddock Road and connect it north to Butler County. extending the highway southward required cutting through already existing suburbs and Cincinnati neighborhoods. without much delay, the expressway was extended to run directly along Hartwell’s eastern boundaries, effectively cutting the neighborhood off from other communities like Roselawn and Arlington Heights.
in the early 60’s when the Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway (State Route 126) was being planned, the connection with I-75 was originally designed to be a major cloverleaf interchange (typical midwestern interchange with four loops) and would have destroyed around 50 homes in Hartwell along with a community center. by working together and pressuring the county, the community was able to get the interchange design changed to one that would have less of a negative impact. State Route 126 even cuts around the southern portion of Hartwell a tiny bit to avoid the neighborhood.
one of my favorite things about Hartwell is its street grid. Hartwell wanted to copy the winding, arching streets featured in the village of Glendale (a nearby suburb), and ended up creating something that looks like a stick figure person. the “head” of the figure has two churches in it, a methodist church and a presbyterian church.
South Fairmount is another neighborhood along the Mill Creek that has been in decline and ignored for a really long time. crazily enough, it’s currently going through a massive revitalization the likes of which have not been seen in this city before, and it’s all thanks to…raw sewage.
let me explain. for a long time, South Fairmount has been a pass-through neighborhood. the Western Hills Viaduct is the gateway to Cincinnati’s west side and it feeds into Queen City Avenue, a wide, ugly street that garners tons of traffic and divides South Fairmount in half. lots of west siders from places like Westwood and suburbs like Bridgetown and Cheviot use Queen City Avenue and the viaduct to get to the east side of Cincinnati.
Cincinnati also has a big sewage problem. currently with Cincinnati’s sewage system, storm water and sewage flow in the same pipes. this means when it rains hard, the sewage pipes in South Fairmount tend to overflow raw sewage into the Mill Creek and the Ohio River. to address this long standing issue, Cincinnati is spending $3 billion to overhaul its sewage system. since the sewage pipes in South Fairmount are a part of the sewage problem, the neighborhood is involved in the overhaul
in South Fairmount, in order to address the raw sewage issue the city is currently building a 1.5-mile-long park with an urban waterway along Queen City Avenue to carry rainwater. it will be called the Lick Run Greenway and the plans for it are absolutely beautiful. to make this happen the city demolished almost all of South Fairmount’s blighted business district, which is why there are so many construction barrels along Queen City Avenue right now. this long blighted and empty area in the middle of the neighborhood will soon be a really cool greenspace where people from all corners of the west side and even the city can come to hang out and enjoy South Fairmount. not every Cincinnati neighborhood will be as lucky as South Fairmount, but it’s exciting to see new life being breathed into this long forgotten neighborhood.
The Villages of Roll Hill
The Villages at Roll Hill is the second neighborhood I’ve visited that I had never been to prior to taking this picture. directly west of South Cumminsville, almost all of the housing in this neighborhood is subsidized.
The Villages at Roll Hill was originally called Hamilton Gardens. shortly after it was built in 1962, it was renamed to its longtime name, Fay Apartments. It was meant to be housing for Cincinnatians displaced by urban renewal projects. In reality, the housing was never enough for the amount of people who needed new homes.
this is a topic for another day, but to be frank, public and subsidized housing in the United States has always sucked. after WW2, tons of people were coming back to the country, families were starting, and people needed homes. the government decided to start building public and affordable housing projects to address the looming housing crisis. unfortunately, these projects were really only meant for white families and were segregated from the start. this caused a huge housing crisis for people of color, as it became even harder for them to find housing. eventually as many white families started to move to the suburbs around the 60’s, people of color were able to start moving into these projects. however, the quality of life of the people of color who lived in housing projects weren’t as important, and many of these projects fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. The Villages at Roll Hill has a similar story. Once it was built and people moved in, it stopped receiving the attention and care it needed. it quickly fell into decline, and for a long time was one of the most crime ridden places to live in Cincinnati.
after being owned by the federal government and then the city of Cincinnati, Fay Apartments was eventually bought by a private company in 1985. In the early 2000’s, the owners started working on a redevelopment plan to improve the community. After $36 million in renovations, Fay Apartments was reborn as The Villages at Roll Hill. today, it’s a pleasant and welcoming neighborhood. Crime is down, people enjoy living there, and it is a rare example of subsidized housing done right in the United States.
in a lot of ways, North Fairmount is similar to South Fairmount - it was once industrial, it has heavily declined, almost half of the community lives below the poverty line, and it feels like the neighborhood is ignored by the city.
in a lot of ways North Fairmount feels remote because there aren’t many major roads that go through it. no interstates have been retrofitted to go through it and it sits along the Mill Creek, making it harder to reach from other areas.
with a lot of communities like North Fairmount, even though the poverty level may be high and the neighborhood hasn’t seen investment from the city in years, the community is really strong and the people there are invested in each other. one of the coolest ways this is evident is in St. Leo the Great Parish, a church that has become a haven and refuge to immigrants from places like Guatemala, Iraq, Burundi, and really just anywhere. the church supports immigrants and refugees by offering support groups, providing resources, having multilingual health workers available, and even having church services in multiple languages so more people can be reached.
what St. Leo does is awesome and should be replicated across the city. however, an unfortunate side effect of being an uninvested neighborhood is that many of the families the church servers live outside the neighborhood because there isn’t really anywhere to live inside it. most of North Fairmount’s existing housing stock was built before 1940, and even the empty, available homes would require tons of money and resources to make them livable again. this means the neighborhood will slowly slide into a housing crisis unless things start to change. residents there are trying to address this by buying up dilapidated homes and taking ownership of empty lots themselves to fix them up. i hope things start to get better for the neighborhood soon
South Cumminsville is a tiny neighborhood with a tight community directly south of Northside. before I-74 was built, Northside and South Cumminsville were one giant, thriving neighborhood called Cumminsville. once the highway was built, the Cumminsville was divided so strongly it became two separate identities.
South Cumminsville is also the first neighborhood in this project that i had never stepped foot in before i took this picture. with a lot of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods along the Mill Creek, South Cumminsville used to be very industrial and populated with workers from nearby factories. with the eventual deindustrialization of the midwest, many of those jobs moved elsewhere. South Cumminsville was hit hard and continues to feel the effects. even today, the median income in the neighborhood is $18,000, about half of the median income of Cincinnati overall.
today, Cincinnati’s poverty rate is 27.7% and most of South Cumminsville’s residents live in poverty. however, the community there is devoted to pulling the entire neighborhood out of poverty and eradicating it for good. the community works with a lot of local groups to educate residents on things like home ownership and community building skills, while organizing events like literary workshops and job trainings. evidence of the work South Cumminsville is trying to accomplish can be seen in statistics like home-ownership - more than half of the neighborhood’s residents own the homes they live in. there’s also a really close-knit community found here. many of the neighborhood’s homes have been passed down from generation to generation, with entire families still living on the same street today.
South Cumminsville is often labeled as a “forgotten” neighborhood, and that can be true in Cincinnati. as neighborhoods like OTR and Northside revitalize, many neighborhoods like South Cumminsville that are mostly non-white have seen decades roll with very little attention from city hall. there’s a similar story like this with some of the other neighborhoods i’m going to visit, but i think it’s cool that South Cumminsville decided to do something about its problems rather than wait around for help any longer.
Columbia-Tusculum is a really cute and affluent neighborhood on the far east side of Cincinnati. it’s also the oldest neighborhood. so old in fact, it predates Cincinnati by a month (i know, sounds weird). eventually Columbia-Tusculum was annexed by the city and officially became a part of Cincinnati.
one of the more interesting things about Columbia-Tusculum to me is Columbia Parkway (U.S. Route 50), a busy street that cuts around the neighborhood which was actually a New Deal project. back in the early 20th century, Columbia Parkway (Columbia Avenue back then) was nothing but an old dirt road with modest houses on either side and didn’t really go anywhere. in 1907, Cincinnati developed a plan that identified building Columbia Parkway up into a scenic parkway and extending it into the eastern suburbs so people could get downtown easier. the plan basically sat around until the 30’s when Roosevelt initiated the New Deal program during The Great Depression to bring jobs to people who were out of work. along with infrastructure improvements to the city and public housing projects in the West End, the Columbia Parkway plan was also selected as a New Deal project and implemented to the beast it is today.
Columbia-Tusculum itself is cool. it’s mostly residential (with tons of beautiful homes), but Alms Park in the southern tip of the neighborhood is nice and there are a few bars and restaurants there too.
CUF! poor CUF! CUF is like the moody middle child with identity problems of Cincinnati. modern day CUF consists of four different small areas- Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview, and The Heights (which is basically all of the University of Cincinnati). all four of these mini neighborhoods surround and include the University of Cincinnati, and because they all have such a similar culture the entire area is considered one neighborhood and called CUF. the identity problem is that literally no one calls CUF, well, CUF! for some odd reason, the neighborhood of CUF has always been referred to as part of Clifton, another distinct neighborhood directly north of CUF. this really bums CUF out. it’s gotten to the point where just this past summer, the CUF neighborhood council started holding meetings to try and come up with a new official neighborhood name in the hopes that a cooler name than CUF would help better distinguish the neighborhood from Clifton.
anyways, i got to live in CUF for a few months during a summer internship and it’s a great place. i love the views of downtown from Fairview Park and Bellevue Park. it’s a good neighborhood. give it a chance, but remember not to call it Clifton!
the East End is a very interesting neighborhood! it stretches horizontally along the Ohio River from downtown to Lunken Airport. it used to be a big manufacturing neighborhood, and remnants of the old manufacturing facilities can still be seen there today. since the neighborhood is pretty much entirely on the river, almost all of the neighborhood is in a flood plain.
like most rivers, the Ohio River has a history of flooding. many of the smaller towns along the river are impacted more by flooding than Cincinnati is due to lack of resources, but even the East End itself gets hit hard. the Ohio River has flooded 105 times since 1858, and with that comes a lot of property damage, homes being lost, and even lives being lost. when the river flooded earlier this year, i remember driving around the East End hoping to get pictures of the flood and seeing entire streets, parks, and homes submerged in river water. i can’t imagine how frightening it must be to wake up and realize most, if not all of your possessions have been lost due to flooding.
Lunken Airport is an airport located in the eastern outskirts of the East End. before CVG even existed, Lunken Airport was the de facto airport of Cincinnati. it was small but heavily used, and it was always thought to eventually become the major airport of the Cincinnati region. unfortunately, that all changed with the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937 where flood waters spilled over the levee and submerged the entirety of Lunken. the flooding potential of Lunken, combined with the hills that surrounded it and the heavy fog the area suffers from kept Lunken from reaching its potential and allowed CVG to grow and become the hub it is today.
pictured here is Riverview East Academy, a school in the East End that was built on stilts due to the amount of flooding the neighborhood faces
Oakley is a cute neighborhood on the east side, directly west of Madisonville. named because of the oak trees originally in the area, Oakley was a working class community around the turn of the 20th century. most people in the neighborhood worked at the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company (eventually renamed to Cincinnati Milacron), an industrial company with a big factory in the neighborhood that helped produce war vehicles and weapons during the world wars and eventually pivoted to become the country’s largest manufacturer of machine tools.
as with most, if not all of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, Oakley started to decline around the 60’s. lots of people and jobs moved to the suburbs. the neighborhood wasn’t really invested in. eventually Oakley began to receive investment and attention from the city and the neighborhood began to grow in popularity, eventually becoming what it is today - one of the most popular places to live in Cincinnati.
Milacron’s giant factory in Oakley eventually became unused and city leaders worked to develop a plan in the early 00’s for what to do with the area. a plan emerged to knock the factory down and create a pedestrian friendly space with a village-like shopping area, transit access, offices, dense housing, and even a Jungle Jim’s. unfortunately much of this plan was scrapped and instead, Oakley Station was built on the space. it’s a big shopping area full of big box stores that is constantly congested and a pain to navigate. the development feels like something you would find in a suburb, and i personally think it was a huge missed opportunity to build something like that in the middle of an urban neighborhood.
today, Oakley consists mostly of young professionals and young families. with Oakley’s resurgence around the turn of the 21st century and increase in popularity it has become one of the most expensive areas to live in Cincinnati, an interesting turn from its working class history
the first time I really started to become familiar with Walnut Hills was early last year. Kroger had just announced they were going to close the supermarket on East McMillan Street. by closing this grocery store, Walnut Hills would be joining other neighborhoods like Bond Hill and Evanston as Cincinnati’s latest food desert. residents of Walnut Hills were (rightfully) upset. many older, car-less Cincinnatians live in Walnut Hills and didn’t know how they would deal with having to travel outside their neighborhood for groceries. it’s no secret that Cincinnati has a ton of food deserts, mostly in neighborhoods that are majority black and with a lower than average total household income.
Walnut Hills didn’t want to be another food desert statistic, though. once their Kroger closed, they went straight to work. residents started out by raising more than $16,000 towards a new grocery store to serve the community. the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation worked to get a farmers market in the former Kroger parking lot a few times per week as a temporary solution. armed with an $100,000 grant, the foundation decided to work towards building a brand new grocery store right in the center of Walnut Hills called the Peebles Corner Grocery. the new grocery store will open in 2019 and feature things residents have prioritized as important like fresh produce from community gardens, goods from local bakers, and meat and dairy from local farms. the grocery store will also have a mobile produce truck so groceries can be delivered to residents who can’t physically get to the store. Kroger pulling out of the neighborhood was a big loss for everyone there, but through working together Walnut Hills will be getting something even better than they had before!
an unfortunate common theme with a lot of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods (and really neighborhoods in cities across America) is the loss many of them experienced with interstate construction in the 60’s and 70’s. Madisonville is no exception.
i love Madisonville! it’s on the eastern edge of Cincinnati. it’s quirky, slightly weird (in a good way), and seemingly slept on by a lot of people. it’s also a neighborhood that integrated earlier than a lot of other Cincinnati neighborhoods. it has a sizeable black population and arts community.
on the western edge of Madisonville, there used to be a smaller neighborhood called Dunbar. Dunbar was one of the first all-black neighborhoods in Cincinnati, built by the families of former slaves. it was a beautiful tight knit community that was eventually razed during the late 60’s in order to build the Red Bank Expressway that connects to I-71. this was a common experience with majority black communities during the 60’s due to segregation and redlining, but fortunately many of the former Dunbar residents were able to find homes in other parts of Madisonville and remain in the neighborhood.
Madisonville has been in decline for a bit, but it’s finally beginning to receive reinvestment and attention from the city. i love the neighborhood and i’m excited for its future.
Camp Washington is a cool neighborhood on the edge of the west side. it’s a neighborhood that used to be and still is very industrial, but some of the old factories are being converted into lofts. a hidden gem of Cincinnati is here, the Cincinnati Sign Museum.
back in the day, Camp Washington had so many meat packing and industrial factories that the neighborhood alone made up for a quarter of Cincinnati’s total earnings tax. Camp Washington also had a modest rail yard. as time went on (and with the construction of I-75 during the 60’s), many of the industrial companies left and the rail yard continued to take up more space in the neighborhood and grow. today only a few industries remain in Camp Washington, and the rail yard in the neighborhood is one of the largest in the nation.
Central Business District
the cool thing about cities is that the state of their downtown tend to reflect the state of the entire city as a whole. cincinnati hasn’t always been the city it is today. as with most cities during the mid to late 20th century, Cincinnati lost a ton of its population as people opted to move to the suburbs. as cities were hemorrhaging residents many of them fell into decline, and in turn their downtowns suffered as well.
downtown Cincinnati is no exception to this. around the 50’s, the city decided to jam a highway through it (Fort Washington Way), effectively cutting downtown in half. during the 70’s, leaders had the idea of building a skywalk encompassing downtown so pedestrians didn’t have to walk on the street and cars could reign king. this led to a really unwelcoming and unaccommodating environment. downtown became a neighborhood people didn’t enjoy spending time in and was pretty much dead outside of normal working hours and Bengals/Reds games.
the downtown of old has changed though. the skywalk was quickly realized to be a bad idea and was mostly removed in the late 90’s. the city began to reinvest in downtown and the riverfront in the early 2000’s. today there’s a movement of people moving back to urban cores and cities regaining some of the population they lost during suburbanization. with The Banks being developed, the streetcar, and the new parks along the riverfront, people and companies are moving back to downtown Cincinnati.
for OTR, i wanted to be really intentional with where i took a picture. instead of going towards the revitalized area with the bars and restaurants I chose to go to the Mohawk area of OTR where i live and take a picture of this unused concert hall, north of Liberty Avenue.
I’ve been learning about OTR’s complicated history with gentrification for a while now. lots of people like the way OTR is now - the bars, the restaurants, the incredibly nice but expensive apartments. there are others who don’t like what happened to it - usually older, non-transplant residents, some of whom used to live in OTR but had to move because it became unaffordable for them.
ever since I’ve moved to Cincinnati, i’ve always heard from people who frequent OTR that you should “never go north of Liberty.” that area (known as Mohawk) hasn’t been “revitalized” yet and because of that it’s considered to be dangerous. there’s this weird sense of division in OTR, where the people who live in the southern part stay only in that area and wait with baited breath for Mohawk to hurry up and gentrify. The people in Mohawk are nice though. I’ve gotten to meet a few of my neighbors during the two months i’ve lived here and they’re great. they’re normal, friendly people. there’s this really cool sense of community here that i think is lacking in south OTR and other areas of the city. lots of the people with their pre-conceived notions who go out of their way to avoid this area will never see that. i don’t think many of my neighbors would be able to afford staying where they are if Mohawk revitalizes like everyone hopes it does, though.
back in the day (like late 19th century) when Cincinnati wasn’t the behemoth it is today and OTR was considered to be the outskirts of town, Mount Auburn was the very first Cincinnati suburb. a lot of wealthy people moved there to take advantage of the hills and unobstructed views of downtown. Mount Auburn was eventually annexed by Cincinnati, but has always been somewhat affluent.
something interesting happened during the 50’s-60’s where the wealthy residents of the neighborhood started moving to the suburbs, and in turn people who wouldn’t have been able to live there before were now able to get into the neighborhood. the neighborhood began to heavily integrate, eventually becoming mostly black.
as was common during the mid to late 20th century, suburbs were heavily invested in while cities were basically left to rot. in turn, neighborhoods like Mount Auburn weren’t invested in by the city, and it fell into decline for a while. however with the recent resurgence of people moving back into cities and the revitalization of Cincinnati’s urban core, Mount Auburn is starting to get back to its roots. lots of the abandoned buildings that used to be occupied by affluent families are starting to get fixed up. empty lots that used to hold homes are starting to get replaced with condos starting at $600,000. it’ll be interesting to see how things in Mount Auburn will play out
Corryville is a neat neighborhood directly east of the University of Cincinnati. similar to CUF, it holds a lot of UC students who live off campus but it has a better defined identity than CUF and doesn’t get referred to as Clifton nearly as much.
Corryville has a cute business district on Vine Street with a lot of unique shops and restaurants. one of my favorite places there is Bogart’s, a music venue. i didn’t learn about this until recently, but Bogart’s has a pretty interesting history. it was originally named the Nordland Plaza Nickelodeon when it opened in 1905 as a vaudeville theater. it remained as a vaudeville theater for the next 50 years until 1955 when it shut down due to vaudeville losing popularity in the entertainment space. in 1960 it reopened as a German theater, and was eventually renamed to Inner Circle while becoming a restaurant with live entertainment. around the 70’s, Inner Circle was renamed to Bogart’s, and the building was remodeled and expanded. it also started to feature more musical acts and comedians. in the late 90’s it was bought out by Live Nation and eventually became the music venue we all know today.
i love driving on East McMillan Street through Corryville and passing the homes in this picture because i think they’re beautiful and they remind me of the victorian homes in San Francisco
East Walnut Hills
Northside is personally one of my favorite neighborhoods. originally called Cumminsville, it’s a really cool neighborhood with a large arts and LGBTQ+ community. it has a ton of independent stores and businesses, to the point where it reminds me a lot of High Street in Columbus (before Ohio State knocked everything down to put in bland stores). unfortunately the area is starting to gentrify. i hope Northside can balance revitalization without displacing existing communities, because they’re what makes the neighborhood unique and one of the gems of the city
to me, Mount Adams feels a lot like the San Francisco of Cincinnati: insanely beautiful and hilly but expensive and not really accessible to the rest of the city. it’s going through some identity issues too - with the revitalization of neighborhoods like OTR over the past decade, Mount Adams no longer is the go to spot like it was in the 90’s
i’ve passed through Sayler Park on my way to Indiana before but i had never intentionally visited until i took this picture. it’s the westernmost Cincinnati neighborhood and i was struck by how cool it is. it feels like a small town with a tight knit community. the homes are beautiful, there were tons of people walking around and interacting with each other and it made me want to live there
the West End was the first neighborhood i visited for this project, and i’ve been waiting to post it. it’s a neighborhood a lot of people ignore, with a rich and sad history i think everyone should learn about.
this summer, i attended a talk on the Kenyon-Barr urban renewal project. the project was essentially the wholesale destruction of most of the West End during the 50’s in order to “clear the slums,” make way for the construction of I-75, and allow industrial companies to move in so the city in turn could reap increased tax revenue. the project led to the displacement of almost 30,000 people, mostly people of color. imagine living in a busy, thriving neighborhood with a strong community. now, imagine pieces of it slowly disappearing. your church gets knocked down one day. then your grocery store. then your school. then your friend’s house. then you eventually have to leave because your house is scheduled to be demolished.
the plight of the people who were displaced from the West End was hard. due to redlining, it was nearly impossible for people of color to buy homes, especially in neighborhoods that hadn’t already integrated. the city promised to provide housing for those who were displaced from the West End, but the little they provided was nowhere enough for the sheer amount of people who needed to find new homes. a fraction of displaced residents were able to find new homes in already integrated neighborhoods like Walnut Hills and Mount Auburn. some were able to somehow get into neighborhoods that hadn’t integrated yet, like Avondale. residents who were able to move to neighborhoods like Avondale noticed that once they move in, for sale signs went up all around them - many white middle class families didn’t want to live in integrated neighborhoods and with the rise of the interstate system opted to move to the suburbs. many who were unable to find housing had to leave Cincinnati entirely.
today, this wonderful neighborhood remains mostly in decline due to years of being ignored from the city, the effects of urban renewal, and the people like you and I with our preconceived notions who choose to avoid it instead of giving it a chance.