Dr. Know: Clammy Cincinnati, UFA Theater, and the Dana Avenue Connector


Why does Cincinnati’s humidity surge to more than 90 percent almost every night? Even when the days are bone dry, the nights turn muggy. We like running our attic fan to bring in the cool autumn air while we sleep, but skip it if the hour-by-hour humidity online says “mostly clammy.” Most nights it does. Why is this? —SOGGY SLEEPER

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Dear Soggy:
Millions of people are certain that God plans our weather as a response to our behavior, so take a good look in the mirror as it fogs up in front of you. This whole thing might be your own fault, making the rest of us suffer. Proud of yourself?

No, go in peace. Meteorologist Jennifer Ketchmark at WCPO-TV offers absolution, noting that relative humidity spikes overnight almost everywhere, and doesn’t necessarily signal mugginess. It’s the “dew point” that your attic fan should worry about. A dew point around 50 is best. If it rises past 70, watch for the dog’s tongue dragging on the rug.

Unfortunately, most hour-by-hour weather pages track things like temperature, relative humidity, wind chill, etc., but not the dew point. So at bedtime, as you decide whether to fan or not to fan, you may find yourself having no other choice except to—please do not be frightened by the Doctor’s suggestion—step outside and see how it feels.

Cincinnati, finally, is restoring many streets to their original German names. What are the chances that Mayfair Hall, part of the Taft Theatre, might also change back to “UFA Theater?” It originally showed German-language films, but World War II forced an abrupt change in name and movies.  —UNDER THE RHINE

Dear Under:
Don’t blame everything on Hitler. A small cinema did open adjacent to the Taft in 1931, named for the famous German studio, UFA. It showed artistic films for German-speaking Cincinnatians who hadn’t been thrown out of town during World War I. When World War II began, the venue abruptly Americanized its roster and changed its name to Mayfair Theatre.

But the Doctor, whose investigative skills have sharpened to stiletto status, hereby declares that the last part of this story is untrue. The theater’s name-change was actually in 1933, many years before we all hated der Führer’s face, and its exclusively German artsich-fartsich policy collapsed even sooner. For example, Damaged Souls was a 1932 Reefer Madness–type “documentary” about innocent girls becoming fallen women. It was so “controversial” that UFA audiences were restricted to only women or men on various days. After each showing, “lectures by physicians” were presented to the ladies. The men were shown films of prize fights.

Don’t expect the UFA name to return, because the theater itself is gone, long ago converted to Mayfair Hall, a Taft venue for weddings and corporate events. Or perhaps even for lectures by physicians, for old times’ sake.

I received a 1933 framed map of Cincinnati for my birthday, and I’m curious about two very far-apart streets I see on the map. Dana ends at Duck Creek in Evanston, and Observatory ends at Madison in Hyde Park. Today, though, those streets run directly together. I assume there’s a good story there. —INTERSECTIONALITY

Dear Section:
Here’s your good story: a Romeo-and-Juliet romance about a posh avenue in Hyde Park hooking up with a scrappy street from Evanston, plus a supporting cast of horrified family members. That’s the script for a play named Dana Avenue Connector, a lavish production that enjoyed a long run from 1958 to 1970.

Act One: There once was a well-connected patriarch named Northeast Expressway, but folks just called him “I-71.” His daughter Dana, everyone knew, ran all around the neighborhood—and the day finally came when I-71 threatened to completely cut her off. Suddenly, Dana looked longingly to Observatory as the hero who could provide an escape route. But Observatory was so very, very distant; what to do? Act Two: To the rescue rode loyal city and county governments, and with a $1.5 million dowry, they helped Dana and Observatory bend and join hands.

But the conclusion was bittersweet. Both Dana and Observatory saw their loved ones’ homes slandered as “distressed” and their land torn asunder. Was it worth all this agony and heartbreak—just to quickly reach Kenwood Mall? Curtain.

Dr. Know is Jay Gilbert, weekday afternoon deejay on 92.5 FM The Fox. Submit your questions about the city’s peculiarities at drknow@cincinnatimagazine.com.

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