This past week I took a much-needed vacation back home to Cincinnati, my first real vacation (other than short weekend trips) since my 2001 trip to London. I had been hoping to take a 2-week trip to the UK later this summer, but that was looking increasingly unrealistic from a fiscal point of view, so I decided another trip to Cincinnati was in order. This was the longest trip I’ve taken to Cincy in quite a while, and it felt good to be back home without having to rush around to cram everything into a couple short days.
Most of my time was spent meeting up with friends and family, and wondering around town and taking lots of photos. A couple highlights included:
- Meeting local bloggers Randy Simes, the Provost of Cincinnati, Sherman Cahal, and a few others for drinks on Fountain Square. Randy was also kind enough to meet up for drinks and give me a brief driving tour of the city the day before. It’s nice to meet up with people who share a passion for the city and who are doing what they can to make it a better place.
- I had a meeting with a longtime professor at the University of Cincinnati’s school of architecture to talk about the program and have him look over my portfolio. The meeting went well, and I came away cautiously optimistic that, if all goes well, I’ll be starting my M.Arch. degree at UC around this time next year. I’m trying not to jinx myself by getting my hopes up too high before anything is official, but it’s hard not to be excited about the idea.
- I was able to visit the Cincinnati Zoo, Union Terminal, and a few other spots around town that I haven’t had a chance to visit in far too long.
Most importantly, though, the trip was a chance to remind myself how comfortable Cincinnati feels to me, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to finally move back there.
The only real black mark on the whole trip was the return flight to New York. I showed up at Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG)Â at around 6 PM for an 8 PM flight. But the flight kept getting delayed because they were waiting for a crew member to arrive on an inbound flight from JFK, and when they finally loaded us onto the plane at 11 PM, we taxied out to the runway only to be informed that the plane had some mechanical issues. We sat there for an hour while some mechanics tinkered around with the hydraulic system, before finally sending us back to the gate and canceling the flight. They put us up in a hotel, and then I was finally able to catch a 4:30 PM flight the next day. I landed at JFK at around 7:00 Saturday evening, 25 hours after first arriving at CVG for my departure.Â And people wonder why I hate flying so much…
Here are lots of photos. Click on the title to view the full album.
I was born in Cincinnati near Mariemont, but I spent most of my childhood just across the river in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. “Cake Town” is about as middle-America as you can possibly get, a cozy bedroom community strung along the top of a steep ridge overlooking the Ohio River, best known for its excellent public schools and its streets of tidy, well-kept houses. The type of place where you want to wake up on Christmas morning.
For me, it’s always refreshing going back there. Almost every spot in the city has some sort of childhood memory associated with it. No matter where I’ve been and what kinds of sordid ordeals I’ve been going through in my life, I feel like I can always go back and find Fort Thomas pretty much just as I had left it.
Most of my extended family and a few old friends in the Cincinnati area still live either in or near Fort Thomas, so the town typically serves as the hub of my activities during my periodic visits back home.
Prior to my most recent visit, though, it occurred to me that I hardly had any photos of the city, so I made a special point to remedy that oversight with my new digital camera. (63 photos)
While growing up in the Cincinnati area, downtown was like the nerve center of my universe. I was always begging my parents to take me over there. Until I visited Atlanta for the first time in high school, Cincinnati was the largest city I had ever been in. Later in my life I found myself living in places like Chicago and New York City, so downtown Cincy no longer really impresses me with its bigness.
That said, downtown Cincy is no slouch, and there are some much larger American cities that would kill to have a central business district as strong as Cincinnati’s. Many fine old buildings have been preserved and restored, the streets are generally clean and well-kept, and things are looking up. Downtown went through some rough periods through the 90’s and 2000’s, but the mood seems much more optimistic now that vacant storefronts are being filled and more people are choosing to actually live downtown. (108 photos)
To the north of downtown lies Cincinnati’s famed (and infamous) Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, a spectacular collection of 19th Century Italianate buildings that was once the most densely-populated American neighborhood outside of New York City. OTR spent much of the post-war period as a burned-out ghetto, but is now finally being rediscovered and redeveloped. Think of it as Cincinnati’s answer to the Lower East Side. (32 photos)
Have you ever been given a priceless family heirloom or antique that, despite its incredible beauty and functionality, never seems to really fit anywhere in your home? That seems to be the dilemma Cincinnati has faced with its magnificent Union Terminal complex over the years. Completed in 1933, Union Terminal was not only one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the world, but it was also one of the best-planned transportation facilities of its age. A large concourse spanned the tracks at the rear of the building and provided stairs to each train platform. At the front, dedicated ramps for taxis, busses, and streetcars funneled passengers to their ultimate destinations in an efficient manner. The central hub of activity was the massive half-domed rotunda.
Unfortunately, Union Terminal opened just as passenger rail in the US was beginning its long decline. Despite an upsurge in rail travel during the Second World War, the building soon found itself empty and obsolete. In 1974, the Southern Railway demolished the concourse to make room for an expanded yard for its freight operations. As if to add insult to injury, all but one of the concourse’s famous murals were relocated to the new airport across the river in Boone County, Kentucky.
In 1990, Union Terminal re-opened as a home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, an Ominmax theater, and a children’s museum. The following year, Amtrak resurrected the building’s original function as a passenger rail station in a limited way, with its Cardinal train calling at the station three times a week in each direction.
With plans underway to develop a regional high-speed rail system, Union Terminal may once again see its place restored as a magnificent gateway to the city. (25 photos)
My earliest memories of the UC campus are from some sort of grade school field trip to Nippert Stadium. Since then, many parts of the campus have been completely rebuilt, and the campus now includes new structures by some of the most prominent architects currently practicing. (46 photos)
One of the most frustrating things about living in NYC without a car is that I don’t often get the chance to take a nice long drive on country highways. So, this past week I decided to take a break from Cincinnati and head down Kentucky 8 towards the historic river town of Maysville. The town’s history dates back to before the American Revolution, and it was an important waypoint for travelers navigating the Ohio River. (10 photos)
The Cincinnati neighborhood of Mount Adams and adjacent Eden Park have always been one of my favorite parts of the city. Mount Adams is a vibrant urban neighborhood that consists of steep, narrow streets that wouldn’t be out of place in San Francisco, and densely-spaced row houses that cling to the hillside for dear life.
Eden Park, although not the city’s largest public park, is arguably the best-known and most popular. The park features the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and incredible views overlooking the Ohio River. (66 photos)
It had been ages since the last time I visited the Cincinnati Zoo, so I decided to stop by and check the place out. It’s the second-oldest zoo in the US (opened in 1875, only 14 months after the Philadelphia Zoo) and is consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in America. (59 photos)
Mariemont was founded as a planned community in 1923, and modeled after an idyllic English village. I was born nearby, so I guess you could say my Anglophile streak goes back a long way. My maternal grandmother, now 86 years old and still sharp as a tack, still lives a few blocks away. (20 photos)
Here are a few neighborhood shots and various other photos that don’t neatly fit into albums of their own. This album includes Columbia-Tusculum, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout, Spring Grove Cemetery, and an unplanned late night at CVG Airport. (41 photos)