Editor’s Letter, July 2019: The Past Is Always Present

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Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Cincinnati’s past is never far from our present-day hustle and bustle, either physically or spiritually. Many urban neighborhoods and suburban towns retain their charm and appeal 50, 100, or 150 years after their founding. Two of our cultural and architectural icons, Music Hall and Union Terminal, were restored for future generations to enjoy. (Here’s hoping the Roebling Suspension Bridge is next.) Our conservative German roots have been a blessing and a curse, bestowing a practical, modest dedication to duty that’s boosted the region through good times and bad while, at times, holding us back from thinking and acting boldly.

This month’s issue includes a number of stories that open windows into Cincinnati’s past—from ancient to recent—and examine how we honor and learn lessons from those who came before us. Cedric Rose details efforts to protect the remaining mounds built by the area’s earliest residents by designating them as World Heritage sites, on par with Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal. Neil Armstrong’s former engineering students and colleagues at UC recall an impact far greater than his astronaut adventures. And Pleasant Ridge neighbors and business owners discuss how the community has come together to support each other and heal in the year since a fire devastated part of its business district.

Historical tidbits are scattered throughout the issue. How a circa 1890 Victorian home in Wyoming has housed 11 different families over the years and just changed hands again. How a local lithograph company printed theatrical posters in the late 1800s and early 1900s to promote events around the world. What Skyline Chili’s original logo represents. And who were the founders of the feast, so to speak, in Cincinnati’s ever-expanding barbecue scene.

This issue isn’t a planned confluence of history-based stories like April’s “10 Events That Shaped Our City.” It’s more of a coincidence, evidence that our fascination for Cincinnati’s past continues to resonate and influence today.

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