Photograph by Jeremy Kramer
Founded by New Jersey pioneers in 1809, Madisonville may be something of an underdog in the Cincinnati Neighborhood Olympics. It once was a thriving suburb, which the city annexed in 1911, and has a long history of racial diversity that continues (photographs of school children in 1895, 1905, and 1941 show African-American children among a majority white student population). The area began to decline in the 1960s, and signs of that are plentiful. But there is magic in the district’s moody atmospherics—its railway trestles and Italian Villa houses, some of which are landmarked in the Madison-Stewart Historic District. The area draws creative types who like the affordable rents, sleepy pace, and the integrity of so much of the vintage architecture, including a number of old churches. On Madison Road, the main artery, Madison Clayworks offers studio space, classes, and pottery for sale. Way on the other side of the neighborhood lies the luxury Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa as well as Mazunte, a hot Oaxacan-style taqueria that recently added outdoor tables. Then there’s REAL Human Performance, a chic-looking body-builders’ gym, on Plainville Road near Mariemont. Did we mention community spirit? The 500 Gardens in Madisonville program aims to help 500 households, many of which inhabit large lots, establish kitchen gardens. On top of all that—or really, beneath it—the land was home to various Native American peoples from the 1100s to the 1600s, and was the site of several important archeological digs in the late 19th century. History lives here.
Population: 9,141 | Median Home Price: $77,999 | change since 2010: 82.2%
Down the Road
- The French Rendez-vous is a fabric importer/gift shop/café with garden tables where visitors can enjoy coffee and croissants or pain-aux-raisins.
- A destination for anyone hungering for a taste of regional Mexican cuisine, Mazunte taqueria offers an array of tacos and other specialties (pozole!) from Oaxaca with fresh sauces and big glass vats of horchata and lemonade. Tecates are in the cooler, next to the Mexican Cokes.
- Madisonville’s big box footprint just got bigger and boxier. Madison Center, $124 million worth of mixed-use development at the intersection of Madison and Red Bank Expressway, will consist of office and commercial spaces, a conference center, and a chain hotel plunked next door to Medpace Inc. Not everyone here is happy about it, but it’s expected to bring upwards of 700 jobs to Madisonville.