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Friday, January 30, 2009

Gem of the Ocean premiers regionally at the ETC

The Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati will be hosting the regional premier of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. The play, nominated for five Tony Awards, will be showing at the ETC from February 4th through the 22nd.

Gem of the Ocean (NYT review) takes a look at early 20th Century America for a young African-American - Citizen Barlow. Citizen struggles with identity issues in the new post-slavery era. The journey north brought promise, but also new difficulties. The play is part of Wilson’s ten-play “Century Cycle” about the African-American experience.

Last season Wilson’s Radio Golf sent sold out crowds home happy from the ETC. You can get tickets now for Gem of the Ocean by ordering online, calling (513) 421-3555, or by going to the theatre box office (GoogleMap) in person.

UrbanCincy readers receive a special “Buy One, Get One Half Off” discount on Adult tickets to any evening performance (not valid opening night). All you have to do is order your tickets by calling the box office and mention

***UPDATE: Due to overwhelming demand, ETC has added another performance of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean on Tuesday, February 17th at 7:30 p.m.***

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Whose grass is greenest?

A recent study, by the Pew Research Center, revealed that nearly half of all Americans want to live elsewhere (there's a shocker). In that survey the three most popular cities were Denver, Seattle, and San Diego. The three least popular were Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. The survey also showed that many 'city dwellers' were unhappy about their living conditions. So what does all this mean, or does it mean anything at all?

Well it's natural to want something better for yourself and your family. It is also natural to think the grass is greener on the other side. The survey also showed that younger people are more drawn to cities, and that women are the more difficult draw for cities - reemphasizing the indicator species phenomenon with women as noted by William H. Whyte in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.

Cincinnati's own, Brianne Fahey, says that she not only loves Cincinnati, but she loves the city.

Brianne Fahey lives in a city the survey says an overwhelming majority of Americans would prefer not to live in: Cincinnati. Like many other large Midwestern and Northeastern cities, Cincinnati ranks near the bottom on people's lists of ideal spots.

For Fahey, 30, Cincinnati is truly home. She grew up in North College Hill, a suburb where her parents and friends still live, but bought a downtown condo after college. She gets by without a car in a city that has few mass transit options. "I like the self-sufficiency of the city," she says. "It's a good place to be in all stages of life."

From USA Today 9/27/09

I think Cincinnati does have a lot to offer. I would also say that other Midwestern and Northeastern cities are the same way. We could sit here and talk about the survey's methodology or psychological behaviors all day. In the end I think people will take what they want to take from the survey, and criticize what they want.

The most significant data there is though is reality. The Cincinnati metropolitan area is a growing region and the city itself is growing too. Public schools are improving as is public safety. And the urban core has more residents and families calling it home than its had in many, many decades. Brianne is certainly not alone even though her story may be silent.

Map from Pew Research

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Blues Fest '09

The Southgate House will be the host for the 2nd annual Winter Blues Fest this Friday and Saturday. The doors will open at 6pm with performances going until about 1:30am or so (you know how these things go). The festival boasts 28 bands on 3 different stages and will offer a great way to spend the weekend and escape the cold for a bit.

The festival serves as an annual fundraiser for the Blues in the Schools program. There will be youth performances in the lounge area both nights from 6:10 to 6:40pm. The Bluebirds and The Blue Shivers will be headlining on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Tickets are $15 per person, per night and can be bought in advance or at the door. Blues Society members getting a $5 discount. Visit the festival's web site for more information on the list of bands and schedule of acts.

The 17th annual Cincy Blues Fest will take place August 7th & 8th at Sawyer Point.

What's a Metro Nation without Strong Cities?

I found this to be especially profound while also being "duh" kind of thought process that is often lost amongst our population. The article has been partially reposted from CEOs for Cities...

After an interview on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi show Thursday, I started thinking again about this idea of America as a "metro nation." I was on first with guest host Rebecca Roberts, followed by Amy Liu of Brookings, where the idea of regionalism has been pushed hard for the past couple of years.

The concept of regionalism is smart on its face. Economies are regional, we count people at a metro level, air and water issues transcend political boundaries, and, in a perfect world, major amenities -- and their cost -- are shared regionally.

But no one should be agnostic about where development occurs in a region. Metro regions all across America are littered with the inevitable consequence of that kind of thinking. Let the city core thin out (sucking its vibrancy in the doing) and spread development thinly across the landscape (which never quite becomes vibant). There. You have the worst of both worlds.

When regionalism asserts the centrality of the anchor city and the need to build its vibrancy through renewal, then regionalism makes sense. But too often, the execution of regionalism means the central city gives and gives (and pays and pays), while the suburbs live off the jobs, amenities and identity provided in cities (or, for that matter, another suburb) without paying a dime.
Continue reading the article at:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vote UrbanCincy - Best of Cincinnati

UrbanCincy has been nominated for the annual Best of Cincinnati awards for Best Blog for the second year in a row. Last year UrbanCincy finished in the Top 5 (near bottom of page) without lobbying for a single vote and without even knowing about the voting until the last week or so. I think we can do better this year now that we have nearly 2 years under our belt and have grown as a website and information source.

For some reason we're listed as 'Urban Cincinnati (' in the Public Eye section instead of the regular UrbanCincy moniker we use. Either way, go on and make your selections for the bests in Cincinnati and vote UrbanCincy as the best blog. We have also been written in as an option for best website, so go ahead and vote for us there too.

While I'm at the whole self-promotion thing...go on and join the UrbanCincy Facebook Page if you haven't already. You can comment on the site, what we cover, get periodic updates, and view some Cincinnati photo galleries.

If you're not into Facebook then you can simply subscribe to the site's article and comments feeds so that you stay up-to-date with everything on UrbanCincy via your mobile device. You can do this by selecting your desired feed type in the drop down menus in the left-hand column second from the top listed under 'Subscribe.' Or you could follow this blog through your Google account for a less intrusive and easy way of showing your support.

Sorry for all the self-promoting, but I figured if I was going to do it I might as well get it all out in one post.

Bacchanalian Wine Tasting - 1/29

The Bacchanalian Society will be hosting their next wine tasting this coming Thursday (1/29) at The Phoenix downtown. The non-profit organization is coming off of their biggest wine tasting event that was held outside on Fountain Square.
The wine varietal for this tasting is Australian Red, and if you're interested in participating check out the rules for the event. As always, this event will be raising money for a local cause and will be benefiting the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Red Cross. Be sure to register in advance to ensure your spot and save yourself $5.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Boehner's stimulus priorities contradict public opinion

Many Americans believe strongly that the infrastructure spending plan should look beyond widening our highways and building new roads. According to a recent study (pdf), 80% of Americans believe it’s more important that a stimulus plan include efforts to repair existing highways and build public transit rather than build new highways. 45% of those polled go on to say that construction of new highways should “definitely” or “probably” not be included in the plan.

The American public has seen the days of highway spending dominate their lives. As a result we are damaging our environment, limiting our transportation choices, and negatively impacting our health. It appears as though House Minority Leader and Republican from West Chester Township, doesn’t agree.

"I think there's a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary? But if we're talking about beautification projects, or we're talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this."
-John Boehner (R-OH)

It is a real shame that when Americans are standing up and proclaiming that they want a change in the way we allocate our transportation resources we also have politicians who are standing up for the status quo. Boehner needs to quit worrying that his constituency feels negatively towards comprehensive transportation – because they don’t.

Over the past decade or so I-75 through Butler County has been widened, Union Centre Boulevard interchange built, SR 129 (Michael A. Fox Highway) built, and the new Liberty Interchange is under construction. Over that same period the City of Hamilton has seen their bus service disappear, rates have gone up on Metro express routes, and the Ohio Hub Plan is looking for some federal money to get going. It should also be noted that Boehner was one of the few opposing votes to a measure supporting increased funds for Amtrak service in Ohio (even Steve Chabot supported it).

With all this highway spending does America or Boehner's district (map) really need additional highway capacity and more highways? Mr. Boehner (contact info) should be supporting democracy and freedom for Americans. We are strangled by an automobile oriented society that leaves no other choices for most Americans. Democracy, freedom, and choice would all seem to be things Boehner would support; so why doesn't he?

The 2009 Growth and Transportation Survey was conducted by Hart Research Associates, January 5-7. Hart Research Associates telephoned 1,005 adults living in the U.S. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Photo from Getty Images

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The future of CVG and its travelers

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, CVG, is in a transition period. The airport has been known for its sky-high fares and single airline dominance (Delta) for some time. At the same time CVG has brought new companies, people, and bolstered the region's corporate presence since its start in 1947.

The airport itself has completed a third north/south runway and an extension of the primary east/west runway within the past decade (Runway Project Map). More recent work has been on the development of a new transportation center, for buses, on the east side of Terminal 3. These improvements have increased capacity and efficiency of the airport in a way that positions CVG well for future success.

The problem though is the state of the airline industry. Fuel prices are going up, as are the costs associated with security measures. CVG in particular has been hit even harder by the several nearby competing airports (Louisville, Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis) that often offer cheaper flights with less hassle. So what's an airport to do?

Well CVG has started to aggressively pursure several new airlines, as well as, looking for existing juggernaught Delta to increase its operations here as operating costs out of Atlanta look to be rising. The news is that in addition to Delta, low-cost carrierAirTran may be in the mix to fill the low-cost void at CVG.

UrbanCincy has also been informed that a brand new airline is looking into offering non-stop flights, from CVG, to several business/travel destinations. Preliminary plans call for this service to start prior to this upcoming Summer season (more information coming soon).

So what does all of this mean for CVG and Cincinnati area air travelers? Increased competition, especially from low-cost carriers, may result in lower fares from the primary controlling force at the airport - Delta. Lower costs at CVG may be bad news then for Dayton's airport that currently capitalizes off of CVG's failures. Thus illustrating the tricky business of airline travel, and highlighting the paradigm that when you solve one problem, you create another.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Forgotten Cincinnati: Jan. 30-Feb. 26

The new exhibition Forgotten Cincinnati opens 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 30 at Park + Vine, 1109 Vine Street. From abandoned amusement parks and crumbling breweries to forgotten neighborhoods and other derelict structures and locales, Sherman Cahal and Ronny Salerno present photographs of a deserted Queen City. Forgotten Cincinnati runs through Feb. 26.

When: 30 January 2009 at 6 PM to 26 February 2009 at 9 PM

Where: Park + Vine, 1109 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202

See also: Facebook event page | Park+Vine Events | Abandoned | Queen City Discovery

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cincinnati's own American Idol Star

First of all, I know...weird topic for me to cover. But on the way in to work yesterday I heard a conversation, on the radio, about a certain American Idol contestant. I don't watch the show, but found the contestant they aired particularly interesting since a) she is from Cincinnati, b) sung an original song that she wrote and, c) that original song was called "Nati."

Check out Leneshe Young's story and performance that blew the judges away. If Cincinnatians weren't obsessed with reality shows enough, this will serve as a big reason to follow AI this year.

Leneshe Young Audition

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UrbanCincy and the Streetsblog Network

This website is proud to be the first Cincinnati-area blog to become a member of the Streetsblog Network. This national blog network is focused on sustainable transport, smart growth, and livable streets issues.

The network serves as a “one-stop shop for transportation policy goodness” with over 170 blogs contributing their best work from a local perspective all over the nation. If you feel that another blog, or your own, is qualified to be a part of this network then please fill out the nomination form and start contributing today.

UrbanCincy hopes to contribute its local perspective on transportation and smart growth issues here in Cincinnati. This will extend beyond the normal coverage of Cincinnati’s modern streetcar proposal and also cover topics such as complete streets, development patterns, and livability issues. Help UrbanCincy accomplish this goal by offering specific topics to cover. As always, share your thoughts on the issues through the comment section provided with each article.

NOTE: UrbanCincy's good friend, CincyStreetcar Blog, has also become a member of this national network within the past day. View its Streetsblog Network profile here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Around Town

"On a recent Saturday with about 10 other young professionals, locked in a new, for-sale Over-the-Rhine condo that didn’t have any heat talking about how we can make Cincinnati a better place for people like us. It was organized by CincyPAC — a political action committee of about 1,100 young professionals who specifically target Cincinnati City Council races to lobby for a better city for those in their age bracket — as a retreat where we might invigorate ourselves for this fall’s council elections."
During this retreat the young professionals discussed what it is that could improve Cincinnati. Naturally their discussions were taken over by talks of the proposed streetcar system. As this effort progresses to bring fixed-rail transit to Cincinnati, the number of passionate supporters continues to grow. It's not just the political wonks, it's the young people, residents, business owners, and others who have seen what streetcars have done elsewhere, and what they once did for Cincinnati. Stay tuned as more and more get on board.

On another completely unrelated note. If you're one of those people who believe nothing is happening at The Banks, well you're wrong. While the bad economy has plagued many projects, it has been a gain for others like The Banks. Contract after contract is coming in under budget due to the competitive bidding process for the work. Small-business participation has exceeded initial goals, there have been 9,000 work hours without a lost-time accident, and the project is making some very visible headway.

LEFT- You can see the first of the two-level parking decks that will lift the development out of the flood plain.
RIGHT - You can see the support columns rising first along the path of what will be Freedom Way.
Photos courtesy of Chad McCann

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Love You Because premiers at Know Theatre

Saturday night (1/17) marked the regional premiere for the Off-Broadway show, I Love You Because, at the Know Theatre (GoogleMap). The comedic musical is a modern day telling of the romantic favorite Pride and Prejudice set in New York City.

Described as a “wickedly funny musical with enough heart to make the cynic in all of us melt.” When paired with a great dinner before hand, at the nearby Lavomatic Café, the show makes for a fun and romantic date in Cincinnati’s Off-Broadway Theatre District (GoogleMap).

The musical itself endears the audience with entertaining, hilarious, and downright catchy tunes. Certainly, the presence of the house band playing all of the music live adds a wonderful touch, but the primary actors were well rehearsed and very tight with some songs that could only be considered as tongue-twisters. In typical playwright fashion, the cast successfully took three small sets of props and transformed them into a variety of imaginative settings, inviting the audience to come along on the emotional journey of the four main characters, all quirky and different in their own right. Speaking of the quirky characters, the actors all did a marvelous job in conveying each characters' personality. Without myself having seen the original New York production, I could only imagine that the authors would have had an exceptional performance such as this in mind.

All in all, if you and a date are looking for something different, I would give this a try. You'll laugh and feel all "warm and fuzzy inside" as you watch the characters struggle with relationships and all grow closer together. Tickets are only $12, so for a few dollars more than a pre-filmed movie matinee, you can watch a live performance and feel the connection with the actors. I'm not typically a musical guy, but I don't think you could go wrong with this comedic take on differences and the dating scene.

You can order tickets online or by calling the Know Theatre box office at 513.300.KNOW (5669). Due to the current economic downturn, the Know Theatre has had to modify its previously announced schedule for the 2008-2009 season. The new schedule for the remainder of the season can be found below.

  • I Love You Because: 1/17 – 2/21
  • Eurydice: 3/7 – 3/28
  • Vigils: 4/11 – 4/25
  • Mr. Marmalade (reading): Date/Time TBD
  • Cincinnati Fringe Festival: 5/26 – 6/6 (dates unchanged)
Review by UrbanCincy contributor Adam Hawkins
Photograph Provided

Friday, January 16, 2009

Programming Note: Explore Cincinnati

Starting today, every Friday between 10am and 11:30am will be the ‘Explore Cincinnati’ radio show on Bearcast Radio. The show will discuss current events going on in Cincinnati.

This week’s show will look at topics like repopulating the city, gentrification, the Greg Harris appointment, streetcars, UC’s landlord accreditation program, and more. The discussion panel this week will be made up of Jake Mecklenborg, Kevin LeMaster, Brad Thomas (call in), and myself (call in).

Tune in (listen online) and check out this new program. There should be some great discussion that will elaborate on some of the more popular topics you’ve been reading about lately; all the while being discussed by some of your favorite bloggers.

UPDATE: You can now download and subscribe (it's FREE) to the Explore Cincinnati podcasts

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Breaking down the chatter

It seems that lately all you have to do is say something will turn out like the never-completed subway, the stadiums, The Banks, or the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and your position of opposition immediately gains some sort of credibility. I don't get it.

The connections are normally weak at best, and the projects are so incredibly different. What's most disturbing though are the criticisms of the Freedom Center. Ever heard someone refer to the museum as a "handout?" Have you ever heard people criticize crimes committed by blacks in one sentence and then suggest turning the Freedom Center into a prison to solve Cincinnati's jail overcrowding in the next?

I have, and on more than one occasion. I find it very surprising that this seemingly in your face racism is tolerated in public dialogue. People talk about the museum as being a drain on taxpayer dollars. Well guess what, it is quite typical for museums and other cultural institutions to receive public aid. Why single out this one institution over the others?

So while I'm upset that people use the museum as a way to somehow predict failure for other unrelated projects in an anecdotal fashion, I am even more upset that the overtly racist tone of those comments is even tolerated in the first place. We're better than that Cincinnati.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Greg Harris to replace Cranley on City Council

The wait is over for those anxious to hear who will replace John Cranley’s vacated seat on City Council. Anonymous sources tell UrbanCincy that fellow westsider, Greg Harris, will fill Cranley’s spot on council as determined by existing Council Democrats.

The appointment benefits all Cincinnatians as a very pro-streetcar Harris will replace one of the two opposition votes (Cranley, Monzel) to the streetcar proposal on council. Harris feels that, “streetcars offer incredible return on investment, and represent Cincinnati's shot to generate hundreds of millions in new revenue. Let's take this bold step to grow our prosperity as a city and region." He goes on to say that, “Ultimately, we have to determine what kind of future we want for our city. Do we want to be a 'Can Do' city that leverages and inter-connects its tremendous assets? Do we want to be a green city that attracts and retains talent? The economic and environmental dividend of streetcars would help us realize this vision.”

In 2007, Cranley held up the process by repeatedly asking questions like whether busses running on painted lines could do the same thing as a fixed-rail streetcar, and how long it takes to walk from Fountain Square to Findlay Market (21 minute walk, 14 blocks) – something that could have easily been answered through a simple Google search like this.

The move of resignation was described as a business decision by Cranley. He cited that he wanted to focus his efforts more on his development work on the westside particularly in the Price Hill neighborhood.

Cranley would have been term-limited this election leaving a vacant seat behind during the November race. The move now allows another Democrat to run as a defacto incumbent come November. This is not the first time this resignation strategy has been employed as Cranley first got onto council in 2001 through Todd Portune’s resignation and more recently Roxanne Qualls was able to use the defacto incumbent role to her benefit as Jim Tarbell stepped aside before term limits in 2007.

Harris lost his run for City Council in 2007 and finished 15th in the overall vote tally (nine members on council). In 2002 and 2004 Harris ran unsuccessfully against Steve Chabot (R) for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat. In 2007 Cincinnati voters elected 100% of the candidates who were running as incumbents.

EDIT: WLWT News 5 confirms Harris appointment at 4:26pm

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New CincyStreetcar Blog! has debuted a new weblog for the Cincinnati Streetcar. The website features general information about modern streetcars and has a specific route information/details for phase 1 of the system. The authors say that they plan to use the site as a means of connecting the dots on the Cincinnati Streetcar proposal.

Go CHECK IT OUT, link to the new site, add it to your blogroll, and comment on the stories so that your thoughts about the proposal are heard. Also in case you haven't heard the Cincinnati Streetcar also has a new Facebook Page for your networking pleasure.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Skate for cheap on Fountain Square

Cincinnati's popular ice rink on Fountain Square is open every day through February 22nd, and thanks to some special deals you can take advantage of this seasonal attraction for as little as $1.03.

Skate rental will still be the same ($2.50) each time you visit, but the rink won't be up for much longer so you should take advantage of it and these deals while they last. If you're one of those young people taking advantage of the noon-5pm special I would recommend getting down there for some lunch (try Javier's for something good, warm, local, and cheap) and then hitting up the rink.

Families should get down there and then enjoy a carriage ride around Downtown on those lazy Sunday afternoons. Maybe grab some breakfast at Tazza Mia before you set the kids lose on the ice rink. And for the DJ and Radio Skates I would recommend hitting up a nearby happy hour before hand to really get the party started and make things a little interesting out there on the ice rink.

  • Radio Skates, every Friday from 6-10pm through 2/20. Kiss 107 FM and Mojo 100.3 FM will offer admission for $1.07 and $1.03 respectively.
  • DJ Skates, every Saturday from 7-10pm between 1/10 and 2/21. Regular admission ($2.50) but skaters will enjoy free entertainment from a DJ.
  • Family Skates, every Sunday from 10am-2pm. Children under 12 years of age get free admission and will be joined by a host of characters like Rufus the Library Dog (1/11).
  • High School/College Nights, Monday through Friday every week from noon-5pm. High school and college students, with a valid student ID, skate for free.
Photo Credit:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thinking big in a bold, new Cincinnati

Is it possible? That's the question I find myself asking more and more lately. Cincinnati has been doing a number of great things lately and the place we all love seems to be making positive strides in a number of areas (i.e. education, public safety). With all of these positive steps forward there seems to be a never-ending list of more items that we all want to see happen.

There seems to be a large contingent of people out there who want to see the region's transportation system improved. Maybe it's light rail, streetcars, buses, bridges, or something else. You might like the idea of one, some, or even all of these...or maybe you like parts of some and not of others. That's not what I'm talking about.

What I want to know is are we capable of doing several of these things without jeopardizing the others? I am in favor of the streetcar system, but I would also like to see our bus system reformed and expanded. I would also like to see a light rail system that goes right along with a regional high speed rail system connecting urban centers across the Midwest.

It is not an either/or proposition here. We can have improved bus service AND invest in the beginnings of a comprehensive streetcar system. We can rebuild I-75 through Queensgate and the West End while also incorporating "green" strategies and reconnecting neighborhoods. And I think we can repopulate Over-the-Rhine without also displacing or harming the current residents there. It's just a matter of will, and I think Cincinnati is starting to build up the necessary will to be able to act in such a way (see The Banks, QCS II). Are you on board?

Photo By Jake Mecklenburg -

Cincinnati area parks a growing community asset

Cincinnati is known for its great park system. The Cincinnati Park Board boasts 70 neighborhood parks, five regional parks and 34 nature preserves. This doesn’t include the additional 16,000-plus acres of parks (80+% are dedicated natural areas) in the Hamilton County system.

Over the years both systems have seen a strong usership of the parks, and have gradually expanded their respective systems in quantity and available uses. Hamilton County has begun implementing mountain bike trails in their parks. Cincinnati in the mean time is building what will become the crowning jewel (Central Riverfront Park) for the already impressive Cincinnati Park System.

The Central Riverfront Park will then be connected with the nearly 1.5 miles of existing riverfront parks that stretch from Downtown through the East End. These parks will then soon be connected into the Ohio River Bike Trail that will introduce a dedicated bike trail from Downtown all the way to the Little Miami Scenic Trail (aka Loveland Bike Trail).

Ohio River Trail Map (click for larger version) - Provided

In 2008 more Hamilton County residents used the county’s parks than in any other year in the past two decades. In the recent University of Cincinnati study, 96% of respondents said that they or a member of their family had visited a park in the Hamilton County Park District in the past year.

The two systems combined make for one of Cincinnati’s strongest assets. They are great resources for the region and offer a wide variety of outdoor activities for people and nature preserves for the environment. In that same survey the most popular Hamilton County park was Winton Woods.

  • You can help make the Ohio River Bike Trail reality by making a secure, tax-deductible donation to The Ohio River Way on their website. $12m of the $16m needed has been identified to bring the trail from Newtown to Lunken Airport. The remaining $4m is needed to complete the final leg from Lunken to Downtown.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern Railway

The Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railway (CL&N) is a defunct railroad in southwest Ohio, connecting Cincinnati to Dayton via Lebanon. Chartered by the city of Lebanon in 1850, the original incarnation of the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Xenia Railroad was to create a railroad between the namesake cities, bypassing the Little Miami Railroad -- today's Little Miami Rail Trail. It would give Lebanon a railroad connection to industry and it was hoped that it would entice industry to move further inland, away from Cincinnati.

The railroad changed hands over the years due to bankruptcies, becoming the Miami Valley, Cincinnati Northern, and later the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern. A branch was constructed to Montgomery, and a connection was made to the Spring Grove, Avondale and Cincinnati Railway, which made it only as far as to Avondale due to financial issues. At one point, a 10,000-foot tunnel was planned under the Deer Creek Valley, to give a more gentle grade for the climb out of downtown Cincinnati to Norwood. Only five brief sections were completed.

Controversies surrounded the railroad. During construction of the 1,050-foot Deer Creek Tunnel in the early 1800s, debris from blasting launched projectiles throughout the Walnut Hills neighborhood, killing several workers and pedestrians. Various residences were heavily damaged or destroyed. It's Court Street terminus also fueled much debate, due to the city of Cincinnati refusing the railroad passage over Court Street to a connection with Fountain Square via an elevated line. The city feared that an air brake on a train could fail and cause catastrophic damage.

Towards the mid-20th century, the railroad went into decline. The rail line north of Lebanon was discontinued in 1952, and so began a series of station closures and branch abandonments. The Court Street Depot was closed in 1969 and torn down in 1975, which coincided with the dismantlement of tracks north of downtown to Norwood. An uptick in freight traffic in the vicinity of Mason, and the designation of some sections as Light Density Lines, kept some of the former CL&N in operation.

In 1985, former CL&N trackage from Hageman to Lebanon was purchased by the city of Lebanon, and themed tourist trains began rolling on the then-named Turtle Creek Valley Railway. It was later purchased by several investors and re-christened the Lebanon, Mason and Monroe Railroad (LM&M), which has been successful to this day.

Today, much of the original CL&N remains abandoned or lightly used. While the LM&M operate over some of the original railroad, others are being considered for reuse, identified in the Interstate 71 Corridor Transportation Study and MetroMoves Regional Transit Plan. One can only hope that Cincinnati and Hamilton County will take advantage of this already identifiable rail corridor for future inclusion into a regional transit network, and make the most use out of existing infrastructure that is in place.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Six year reform effort a success for CPD

The most important role of government is public safety. Over the past few years this has become the primary concern for voters in Cincinnati as the city reeled from the results of the 2001 race riots. This civil disturbance led to a close examination of how the Cincinnati Police Department conducts its business.

This examination was done by a court-appointed monitor, Saul Green, who closely examined the police department's actions and procedures for the past six years. The report has been released and the results are very encouraging.

The monitor's report refers to Cincinnati's police reform effort as "one of the most ambitious ever attempted - and one of the most successful." He goes on to say that Cincinnati is now a national model for how these types of reforms should happen.

These efforts of reform have not come alone. They have been matched with aggressive and innovative police strategies to fundamentally reduce violent crime in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) is the primary program of note in this regard.

The CIRV is a long-term effort that focuses on reducing the actual desire for individuals to commit and live their lives through crime. The results aren't necessarily seen right away, but luckily enough for Cincinnati the numbers are already improving. This is probably a combination of things from Operation Vortex, to a number of major gang busts (see Tot Lot Posse and Northside Taliban), to improved community relations.

The bottom line is that public safety in Cincinnati is improving. This year saw a slight uptick (2005 - 2008 saw 79, 85, 67, 75 homicides respectively) in the overall number of homicides, but was on pace to be even lower than last year's improved number until the string of non-random homicides at the end of the year. The work must continue and these aggressive and innovative measures should continually be tweaked to be most successful. But at this point Cincinnati, its leaders, and citizens deserve some congratulations.

Image Credit:

New Year's Promise

With each new year there is new hope. We hope that we can change ourselves for the better and we hope that others try to do the same. In Cincinnati this is no different.

UrbanCincy's goal has been to connect Cincinnatians throughout the tri-state with the events and news going on in the urban core. Too often this is an area that is overlooked by the local mainstream media except for the most obvious of news or the most depressing.

UrbanCincy pledges to continue to be a spot where the news relevant to Cincinnati's urban core will be a focus. If it is good news, then it will be portrayed as such. Most importantly though, if it is bad news then a positive solution will be presented so that we can look at our faults in a proactive manner.

If there are any stories, news items, or areas of coverage that you think we didn't do a good enough job covering in 2008 then please use the comments section to let us know. We are the change we want to be, so lets make Cincinnati the place we want it to become.

Fountain Square on NYE - Photo by Queen City Discovery

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