Dr. Know: May 2014

Walking across Fountain Square recently, I recalled how the fountain was dug up in 2006 and reoriented for the Square’s redesign. Made me wonder: How many different settings has the Tyler Davidson Fountain seen, not counting the times it was moved for repairs? —Baby, If You’ve Ever Wondered

Dear Baby:
Location, location, location. That’s the short answer. Our beautiful fountain has resided in three different settings since 1871, although always at Fifth and Vine. By contrast, many nearby residents have moved away since then. Perhaps the fountain’s ornate figures come to life late at night and bicker: Toy Story meets The Honeymooners.

Our fountain, local magnate Henry Probasco’s memorial to his partner Tyler Davidson, was plunked smack in the middle of Fifth Street in 1871, displacing a block-long horde of butchers. The butchers apparently moved to the sidewalks and rebranded themselves as banks. The fountain’s official name is The Genius of Water, but everyone calls it the Tyler Davidson Fountain. Its unique image has since become our city’s icon, much like Seattle’s Space Needle, St. Louis’s Gateway Arch, and Toronto’s Rob Ford.

The Genius was moved to its second home in 1970 when the city decided it was about time that Fountain Square was shaped like, you know, a square, and they created the plaza we know today. The fountain stayed put in 1985 when, with much fanfare, the city erected a hulking “performance pavilion.” We of a certain age can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news that the pavilion’s dedication would be hosted by Donny and Marie Osmond.
You could argue that the fountain’s brief stay at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 2006 counts as a “home,” but that was just a temporary visit during another Extreme Square Makeover. The fountain was then anchored in its third official “permanent” location. There it will stay until someone says Hey, here’s a cool idea: Let’s plunk it smack in the middle of Fifth Street!

Out-of-towners following directions to my house just over the Roebling Bridge routinely get lost. I tried driving the route myself with their eyes, and quickly discovered the problem: Cincinnati’s signage approaching the bridge is terrible. After turning left at the “Covington” arrow on Third Street at Race, you face several intersections and options, but there are no signs to the Suspension Bridge, still several blocks away. This bad signage should be fixed. Who ya gonna call? —Suspension Tension

Dear Suspension:
The Doctor, while dedicated to answering readers’ questions, is nevertheless not a TV News Troubleshooter. He is not “On Your Side,” “Fighting For You,” “Leading The Way,” or “Returning Your Calls.” But he did recently have occasion to cross Mr. Roebling’s second-most-famous structure via East Third Street, and noted the veracity of your assertion. The paved maze approaching the Suspension Bridge indeed offers no help to the novice, and can easily lure a lost driver into The Banks.
Perhaps this is a subtle revenue-enhancement strategy planned by the city. Perhaps one should be grateful for whatever municipal vision they can muster.

I’m a huge fan of Graeter’s, so I hope I don’t get them in trouble, but this has bothered me for years: The door to their store on Hyde Park Square opens inward. I thought fire regulations require all public exits to open outward. Am I wrong about this? —Black Cherry Chocolate Chip Junkie

Dear Junkie:
Yes, you are wrong about this. Thank you for asking before leaping into the store as The Mighty Exitor; capes went out of fashion in Hyde Park long ago.
When the Hyde Park Graeter’s opened in 1922, Cincinnati Fire Station No. 46 was already long established across the street. Let’s assume that more than a few fire professionals have pushed on that door and noticed which way it swings. They, and you, have no call for concern. Ohio Fire Code 1301:7-7-10, “Means Of Egress,” stipulates that “doors shall swing in the direction of egress travel where serving an occupant load of 50 or more.” In other words, the regulation applies only to rooms with a capacity of at least 50 people. Even on a hot July night with every table occupied and a line out the door, the interior population doesn’t reach 50. Besides, under those conditions the line of people would be propping the door open (letting out the air conditioning, Hyde Park’s supposed stuffy manners notwithstanding).

Originally published in the May 2014 issue.

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