Cincinnati: The First 'American' Town
Flocks of snowbirds hail from the Queen City
M―Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
any of us can rattle off the attributes and landmarks of America’s most famous cities, from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. But for some reason one great American city― a beautiful and historic riverfront destination― consistently stays under the radar. Cincinnati deserves accolades, tourists and far more attention than it gets. Visit once, and you’ll agree. Cincinnati was settled in 1788, the first major American city founded after the Revolutionary War and our country’s first major inland city. By 1850, the largest city in the west was shipping untold amounts of pork to New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, earning its early nickname “Porkopolis.”
By the early 1950s, Cincinnati native Julius “Junkie” Fleischman Jr. had relocated to Naples, Florida. Fleischmann, whose family’s Standard Brands merged with Nabisco in 1980, was a hardworking anthropologist who created Naples’ Caribbean Gardens (now the Naples Zoo) by rejuvenating the long-forgotten garden of an eminent naturalist. Junkie and his
THE BIG PICTURE
“And this Song of the Vine, This greeting of mine, The winds and the birds shall deliver, To the Queen of the West, In her garlands dressed, On the banks of the Beautiful River.”
If you love architecture on any level, you’ll love Cincinnati.
wife, Dorette, were also the catalysts behind Naples’ Third Street South. Southwest Florida is, in fact, home to a disproportionate number of Cincinnati snowbirds and former residents.
FOOD & DRINK
Cincinnati was settled in 1788, the first major American city founded after the Revolutionary War.
You'll find locals en masse at the Skyline Chili restaurants throughout Cincinnati. The chain has cleverly opened in Florida, including Fort Myers and Naples, allowing its many hometown fans their “threeway, four-way or five-way” mantra in the Sunshine State. (Breakfast and lunch haven First Watch also hails from Cincinnati).
• Graeter’s Ice Cream shops. Founded in Cincinnati in 1870, this artisanal ice-cream maker has a cult following.
• French Rendezvous, replete with addictive pastries, French press coffee, even fabrics, ceramics and other Francophile goodies. • Arnold’s in downtown Cincinnati, the city’s oldest tavern.
• Mount Adams Bar & Grill, the first drinking establishment in Ohio to obtain a liquor license at Prohibition’s end.
• Check the Mariemont Inn, where The National Exemplar pub is tucked inside. (The inn’s lobby is worth a visit, too.)
Cincinnati this year opens a Brewery Heritage Trail. Keep an eye out for Sam Adams “513” beer, bearing the city’s area code and a flying pig motif, a nod to Cincinnati’s history by Sam Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch, a native.
The Christian Morelein Lagerhouse gets high marks for food, beer and unparalleled river views. Christian Morelein Malt
House Taproom, in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, offers brewery tours and drinks, in a setting that dates to 1860.
Book a table at 21C Museum Hotel’s pricey Metropole, where you can count on to-die-for food, and the quirky presence of penguins.
ART & ARCHITECTURE
If you love architecture on any level, you’ll love Cincinnati. You could literally spend days just driving through beautiful neighborhoods, where home styles include everything from Federal to Victorian. You might even spy roofs that imitate thatch … and then there’s the wonderfully indescribable house in Hyde Park, which resembles an owl. Must-see visits should include the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal (above left), the Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds) and Findlay Market in the trendy Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Downtown’s skyline is no less diverse, and the city’s churches and temples will leave you breathless. Eden Park holds the Krohn Observatory and the terrific Cincinnati Art Museum.
Downtown’s Taft Museum is in a spectacular home listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
The Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center is at the eyepopping intersection of East 6th and Walnut streets. Colorful murals adorn the entire city.
Particularly appealing neighborhoods include Over-the-Rhine (OTR), East Walnut Hills, Hyde Park and Oakley. Mount Adams has a super overlook, sited where a funicular used to make its way up from below. The new Cincinnati Connector streetcar now makes
Southwest Florida is, in fact, home to a disproportionate number of Cincinnati snowbirds.
a 3-mile loop from OTR to downtown, stopping at JACK Casino and many of the previously mentioned attractions.
Downtown’s Fountain Square is the city’s hub; a bevy of hotels are within easy walking distance, including the historic Cincinnatian, the art deco Netherland Hilton, a Westin and the aforementioned 21C Museum Hotel. A new AC Marriott Hotel also just opened in The Banks entertainment district. Across the river from The Banks, and accessible by foot via the “The Purple People Bridge” lies Newport, Kentucky, and its large riverfront entertainment district.
Whichever fun fact might lure you to Cincinnati, and no matter how you like to spend your free time, Cincinnati has something for you.
Cincinnati will surprise, only because the Queen City can be overlooked by other Midwestern towns. But investigate this jewel along the Ohio River that boasts a delightful blending of Americana, cuisine, culture and architecture.
Cincinnati's hybrid of historic and oddly delightful architecture includes the Mushroom House (bottom), a quirky structure in the city's Hyde Park district.