Continue uncovering street history with this second installment of stories behind peculiar and prominent Cincinnati road names (you can find the first installment here).
Why Two Epworths? (Westwood/Spring Grove Village)
Cincinnati has two streets named Epworth, which suggests a strong Methodist population. Epworth is a town in Lincolnshire, England that was the birthplace of John Wesley and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist religious movement. When you see streets and towns named Epworth, you can be sure Methodists abound, just as “Bethlehem” place names signify Moravians, and the various manifestations of the Blessed Virgin announce Catholics. Winton Place (now Spring Grove Village) had an Epworth Place, with the requisite Methodist church, before Westwood was annexed by Cincinnati in 1896. To eliminate duplicates, City Council decided that Westwood’s Epworth would henceforth become Bethany Avenue. Council had not calculated on James N. Gamble, vice president of Procter & Gamble, and his fondness for the Epworth Avenue that ran alongside his own personal church. City Council backed down and the Winton Place Epworth became East Epworth. Mr. Gamble’s Westwood United Methodist Church still proudly dominates Epworth Avenue.
First Avenue (Price Hill)
Most of Cincinnati’s numbered streets, from Second to Fifteenth are located downtown or in Over-the-Rhine. How did First Avenue get plunked down in Price Hill? The answer has to do with Cincinnati’s patchwork growth through annexation. Years ago, there used to be a little town named Cedar Grove located north of what is now Glenway Avenue and east of Sunset Avenue. Cedar Grove, according to an 1884 county map, included First through Fifth avenues. When Cedar Grove was annexed to Cincinnati in the 1890s, the city moved to remove duplicate names. Cincinnati has no First Street – below Second Street were Water Street and Front Street – so First Avenue remains. Cedar Grove’s Second Avenue became Iliff, Third became Gilsey, Fourth became Dewey and Fifth was going to become Milwaukee but residential objections led to it being named Rosemont.
Glendora Avenue (Corryville)
At various times, parts of the street we know as Glendora were named Zeltner, Falke, and Dallas. By 1900, a northern extension of this street was named Glendora. Responding to a petition by residents, City Councilman Fred Emmert of the Twenty-Eighth Ward including Corryville introduced legislation renaming the whole chain of north-south streets Zeltner. His motion passed, and Councilman Emmert celebrated his victory by sailing for Europe. In his absence, his constituency changed their collective mind and, on 1 July 1901, parts of Zeltner reverted to Glendora, Falke and Zeltner. Ten years later, the city reconsidered and unified the whole collection of streets under the name Glendora.
Inco Lane (Sayler Park)
Somewhere along the line, Inco Lane lost its logic for existence. It was named in 1945 because it connected (In)dian Lane and El(co) Avenue. The problem is that only half the street was built. The western section remains a paper street. Additionally, Elco Avenue has been renamed Cherokee Avenue.
Luckey Avenue (North Fairmount)
It’s not a misspelling. Up on the old Schuetzenbuckel, where Annie Oakley made her reputation, this little street has nothing to do with good fortune. John S. Luckey owned a good part of Fairmount prior to his death from peritonitis in 1882. After his burial in Spring Grove Cemetery, his heirs remembered him by naming a street with a view in his memory.
Manitou Street (Walnut Hills)
Back in 1888, overcome with celebratory fervor as Cincinnati marked its centennial, the city fathers decided to rename dozens if not hundreds of streets. Many of the new names were clearly intended to inject a little faux history into the city’s toponymy. Among the highways and byways whose names trace to that year are Calumet, Sachem, Chickasaw and Manitou. That last street, little more than a ligature connecting Fowler and Symmes, was chosen like the others because it sounded nostalgically “Indian.” Apparently, the official who suggested ditching the former Scott Street did not realize that Manitou, among America’s indigenous peoples, came in two flavors: the Great Spirit and the Evil Spirit (as in the 1978 horror film). By invoking Manitou, the city fathers may have cursed themselves.
Monon Avenue (Hartwell)
There are a couple of creeks near Lafayette in White County, Indiana that, although originally called Monong (allegedly a Potawatomi word meaning “swift-running”), are now known as the Big Monon Creek and the Little Monon Creek. The creeks gave their name to a small town originally known as New Bradford. The town gave its name to the Monon Railroad which, every day, sent a passenger train through Hartwell on its way to Cincinnati alongside a street known then as Ohio Avenue. When Hartwell was annexed to Cincinnati, which already had an Ohio Avenue, the Hartwell street was renamed after the daily train.
Mound Street (West End)
Certainly among the flattest streets in all of Cincinnati, Mound Street bears a curious name suggesting an elevation or slope. What’s left of Mound Street—a quarter-mile straightaway from Eighth Street up to Clark—is almost as level as a billiard table. Before 1841, there actually was an oval-shaped mound more than 40 feet high on Mound Street at the intersection of Fifth. That location is now covered by a UPS hub fronting on Gest Street. The mound was demolished in 1841 to make way for development of the southern section of the West End.
Muchmore Road (Indian Hill)
Drivers along this wooded route may be forgiven for wondering how much more there is. The road was not named for uncertain aspirations, but recalls an early settler, David Muchmore and his descendants. The Muchmores were of English origin and relocated from New Jersey. They were among the first settlers near Madisonville, and owned quite a bit of land on which, among other crops, they were known for their berries.
Oak Park Place (Oakley)
When Carl Jahnigen platted a small subdivision off Paxton Avenue in 1917, it’s only natural that he should name the main street after himself. This logic, by 1938, was lost on Jorma J. Salovarra, living at 3913 Jahnigen Avenue, who petitioned city council to rename the street Oakpark Place. Salovarra’s rationale? “[Jahnigen] is not only a difficult name to pronounce and spell, but in no way infers the locale of the street.” Council agreed, although today, most maps have “Oak Park” as two words.
Pleasure Drive (Price Hill)
As a real estate investor and developer, Fred Duebber had to come up with a lot of street names as he laid out subdivisions throughout the Western Hills. A little cul-de-sac across West Eighth Street from Saint William Church gave him all sorts of headaches in 1955. He proposed more than a dozen names, all rejected by officials at the city. One night, as he told the story, he was watching his brand-new television and remarked to his wife how much pleasure a TV set would bring to shut-ins. With that inspiration, he contacted the city, and Pleasure Drive was approved.