Cincinnati is often described as the southernmost Northern city, which is probably true if you check a U.S. map. We might get an argument from Louisville; St. Louis; or Washington, D.C., though none is an exact comparison. Louisville is more like the northernmost Southern city (not the same thing), St. Louis is solidly Midwestern while its state university plays sports in the Southeastern Conference, and the nation’s capital is a weird sort of city (in many ways) where half the population consists of transient legislators and government workers.
Only Cincinnati is a major city in a traditionally Northern state with suburbs in a traditionally Southern state. We come together as a metro area when it suits our purposes—our airport is in Northern Kentucky, we embrace bourbon as a regional calling card, and everyone roots for the Bengals, Reds, and FC Cincinnati. We fight when we feel competitive—dueling music venues and ferris wheels on the riverfront, and a scramble to build FCC’s soccer stadium (Newport is the same distance from Fountain Square as the final West End site). And sometimes we blame each other and dig in our heels, like the Brent Spence Bridge impasse.
There was a time, around the Civil War, when the Ohio River was a true border, when slaves escaped to Cincinnati and bounty hunters roamed the city looking to recapture them. After the Roebling Suspension Bridge opened in 1866, as the nation started healing, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky were finally linked—a symbolic connection as much as anything. We’ve been one family ever since, with all of the name-calling, jealousy, hand-me-downs, support, and pride that come with being family.
As this month’s “Cincinnati vs. Northern Kentucky” cover package points out, there are more similarities between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky these days than ever before. Many of us grow up on one side of the river and attend college or buy a house on the other, we live on one side and work on the other, and we cross the river constantly to eat out, attend a show, see a game, take in a park, or visit friends. We’re all from Cincinnati, y’all.