When I first moved to Cincinnati, I got an apartment in Mt. Adams. it was a ground-floor unit on a street near Eden Park, so I didn’t have a view, but I chose Mt. Adams because it practically hung over downtown, where I worked. The popular views were spectacular, especially from Holy Cross-Immaculata Church and City View Tavern, but I liked finding my own secret views. My favorite was at the end of Pavilion Street, where it curves to become Carney Street. All of Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton spreads out from the Ohio River in front of you. It’s breathtaking.
I’d never lived in a city with so many views of downtown and the river from 360 degrees. As I got to know the city, I’d wander up and down tiny streets in Price Hill, Bellevue, Walnut Hills, and Mt. Auburn and—boom!—find another amazing view.
What’s funny about Cincinnati’s fascination with views is that it’s a fairly recent phenomenon. The hills have always been around, of course, but until maybe 75 or 100 years ago you couldn’t see much from them due to smoke and pollution clogging the downtown basin. Everyone who had the means moved up onto the hills in the 1800s to get away from that mess, and they rarely looked back.
But times change, and trends come and go. A room with a view is coveted these days, and has been for a while, and new homes and businesses try to use views to their advantage—from Incline Public House on the west side to hotel and apartment rooftop decks downtown to Devou Park amenities in Covington.
A more recent Cincinnati trend is reimagining the city’s underground spaces, most of which stored beer during our brewing heyday in the late 1800s. Our German ancestors likely would laugh at the thought of tourists clambering through their basement refrigeration halls or a nightclub opening in one. How impractical!
These new uses of old spaces and ancient hills inspired “Cincinnati from Top to Bottom.” Go find your own secret views and underground hangouts, and let us know which ones to highlight next time.