From Bucktown To Vanceville: Cincinnati’s Lost 19th Century Neighborhoods


Today, 52 neighborhoods comprise the city of Cincinnati, from Sayler Park to Mount Washington. But there are neighborhoods that survive only in musty newspaper files and mysterious street names. Some of these defunct neighborhoods are mourned, while others are most definitely not missed at all.

Map created by Greg Hand

Two of the latter type are Rat Row and Sausage Row. Both were very old and long-lived Cincinnati neighborhoods. Rat Row followed Front Street westward from Main, while Sausage Row followed Front Street eastward. Both Rows housed the dregs of Cincinnati, the “rousters, tramps, no-accounts and crooks,” according to the Cincinnati Guide. Saloons, bordellos, and general dens of iniquity filled these neighborhoods, now occupied by Smale Riverfront Park and the Great American Ball Park.

Likewise, few pine for Bucktown, a small but infamous neighborhood between Sixth and Seventh streets east from Broadway. Cincinnati’s white majority forced the African American population to live in Bucktown, but it was also home to our first Irish immigrants as well.

Totally obliterated by urban renewal is an old Cincinnati suburb that was once named Texas. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer [27 January 1895]:

“About 50 years ago that part of the city north of Court street and west of Central avenue was known as Texas, and, although the name has died out, it has as yet not been properly annexed to the city.”

This blog has already looked at the lost village of Bethlehem, nestled in Mount Auburn underneath the Christ Hospital complex.

Here are some other lost Cincinnati neighborhoods:

The boundary between today’s Brighton and Camp Washington was originally known as Goosetown.

Just west of the Taft Museum, the intersection of Fourth, Lawrence, and Ludlow streets once marked the pointed end of a triangular neighborhood known as Flat Iron Square. Although there were some fine homes there, most of the structures running south to the river were craftsmen’s shops. When much of Flat Iron Square burned in 1870, the city bought it all up and created Lytle Park.

Running down the valley now occupied by Queen City Avenue was a chain of small neighborhoods named St. Peter (or Peterstown), Forbusville, Barrsville, and Spring Garden. Only Forbus Street, right on the border between South Fairmount and East Price Hill, preserves the memory of one of these neighborhoods. Spring Garden was built on the slopes of Bald Knob, the big flat-topped hill at the end of the Western Hills viaduct.

On the other side of town, south of Columbia Parkway between Kemper Lane and Delta Avenue, another string of small neighborhoods lined the river. Not a trace remains of the largest and most important, named Fulton. Named for Robert Fulton, who developed the early steamboats, Fulton was Cincinnati’s shipyard. This was where most of the “Tall Stacks” were built. Harry L. Hale, writing in the Cincinnati Enquirer [31 July 1960] states that it wasn’t just riverboats built here:

“There many of the steamboats plying the Ohio and Mississippi rivers had been built, among them three ocean going vessels built by the John Swasey & Co. yards – all before 1850 and all 200 to 350 tons.”

Cincinnati annexed Fulton in 1854. The village by then included three suburbs of its own. Remnants of Hazen Street cross Riverside Drive, marking the old Fulton neighborhood of Carrsville, followed a few blocks later by Vance Street, once the center of Vanceville. Then came Lewistown, now buried under the LeBlond complex.

Further east and annexed somewhat later, was Pendleton. This lost neighborhood, running along the Ohio River west from Delta Avenue, is obviously not the modern-day neighborhood of Pendleton north of Over-the-Rhine. This riverbank Pendleton included streets still occupied today: Watson, Strader, Worth.

The current neighborhood of Evanston has subsumed two small subdivisions named Idlewild and Ivanhoe. These vanished neighborhoods constitute those parts of Evanston west of Montgomery Road, and there is still an Idlewild Avenue to mark the location.

The northeast portion of Hartwell, nestled in the crook of Galbraith and Anthony Wayne, was once a very exclusive suburb named Maplewood.

Way over on the western extremities of Cincinnati, we find Sayler Park. This neighborhood used to be called Home City, and there was a factory there that manufactured ice. Although no longer based there, that’s where the Home City Ice Company got its start. Although there’s a park carrying Fernbank’s name, that neighborhood has been merged with Sayler Park, as was the small town of Industry, located where Rapid Run Pike crosses River Road.

Closer into town is Riverside, which once had its own suburb, named Southside, on the “other side of the tracks” toward the river. Southside had its own train station.

At the bottom of the Colerain Avenue hill, where West Fork crosses and becomes Virginia, old maps show a small village named Hameltown. This little burg retained its identity at least until 1906, when the Cincinnati Post [14 November 1906] reported tavern keeper Henry Stratemeier paying off an election bet:

“As a result, he is elected to wheel Conrad Keller from Hameltown to the Millcreek Bridge in a wheelbarrow all bedecked with Japanese lanterns, while a brass band and the multitude follows in the rear, emitting sweet strains of music and red, white and blue balls of fire from Roman candles and brass horns.”

The southeastern-most section of College Hill, at the intersection of Gray Road and Winton, is designated as “Rolling Ridge” on the 1869 map of Hamilton County.

The southern end of Avondale, the area around the old Vernon Manor Hotel, was once known as Vernonville. It used to have its own cemetery and an early Kindergarten Training School. Vernonville was described as “one of the most beautiful and accessible sections of the city.”

The northern part of Avondale was once known as Rose Hill. It was also known as Clintonville, an old name that endures in the name of Clinton Springs Avenue. There are many street names that preserve the memory of obsolete neighborhoods. Woodburn Avenue, running up to De Sales Corner is a case in point. Now on the border between Walnut Hills and East Walnut Hills, the De Sales Corner area was an independent village named Woodburn until Cincinnati annexed it in 1873. According to the Enquirer’s Harry Hale [19 July 1960]:

“Incorporated a village in 1866 under the name Woodburn, the place covered only one section of land–640 acres of Section 2, Millcreek Township, but later grew rapidly. When finally annexed to the City of Cincinnati it covered a whole square mile, and all roads through its intersection were well lined with business places of all kinds.”

Similarly, a major Western Hills thoroughfare is Cleves-Warsaw Pike. Now Cleves certainly exists within spitting distance of the Indiana border, but what’s this Warsaw? It turns out that there was a community named Warsaw along Glenway Avenue between Prout’s Corner and Rapid Run.

In addition to remnant street names, some of these old neighborhoods are preserved in the tangled property descriptions encoded in official deeds.

This article was reposted with permission from Greg Hand, editor of Cincinnati Curiosities.

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