Kaid Benfield Archive


Another great revitalization-in-progress: Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine

Kaid Benfield

Posted April 20, 2009 at 1:51PM

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     brownstones in OTR (by: Ed from Ohio, creative commons license)  OTR aerial (public domain)

Some great folks at the University of Cincinnati have begun to acquaint me with an exciting revitalization effort going on in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of their city.  In many ways, what I have learned so far - and I expect to learn a lot more when I visit them next month - the O-T-R story seems similar to that of Old North St. Louis, a subject of previous posts.

The colorful name comes from a canal that runs between the neighborhood and downtown Cincinnati, reminding its German immigrants of their home country's famous river as they traversed it.  Like Old North, it fell into decline, but much of its building stock is terrific, as you can see in the photos, and it also contains some thriving community assets like the Findlay Market:

  Findlay Market in OTR (by: cincinnati.com)  harvest time at Findlay Market (by: Ken Stigler, creative commons license)

The neighborhood has a comprehensive, upbeat website, which covers all the community's happenings, and quotes travel writer Arthur Frommer:

"In all of America, there is no more promising an urban area for revitalization than your own Over-the-Rhine. When I look at that remarkably untouched, expansive section of architecturally uniform structures, unmarred by clashing modern structures, I see in my mind the possibility for a revived district that literally could rival similar prosperous and heavily visited areas."

In addition, the city of Cincinnati has a community redevelopment website that hosts, among other things, a comprensive plan for the neighborhood's future.  I'll report back when I learn more, but for now one of the best intros is this cool video: