Tagged: Cincinnati

the picture

cincinnati skyline

Looking through some older photographs, I came across this guy.  I took it a few years ago in a park in Northern Kentucky overlooking the Covington and Cincinnati skylines. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of the park. Google maps and landmarks narrowed down my choices, but I was still at a loss. Finally, I sent the photo to a friend who grew up in the area. He recognized the view almost instantly.

And that is the power of place.  All the elements built along the river over decades come together just so  – it’s such a unique massing of buildings, structures, and landscape (historic and modern) that my friend not only recognized the skyline, but he knew the photo could only have been snapped from Devou Park, which is nestled high in the hills overlooking downtown Covington, the Ohio River, and Cincinnati.

What are some some of the elements that make your city or region instantly recognizable?


This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.


A Lot of Tiny Pieces Lost – Next City

For cities struggling with large numbers of vacant buildings, “‘The question isn’t, ‘what we should demolish on this block,’ but, ‘what should we be focusing our energy on?’” said Cara Bertron, director of PlaceEconomics’ Rightsizing Cities Initiative and a Next City Vanguard alum. “Long-term thinking is critical. What will this neighborhood look like in 10 years? In 20 years? If you make decisions based on what’s going to happen in the next six months, it’s just going to be a mess in six months and the city won’t be any better off.’”

Lagering Tunnels Reopened in Cincinnati! – Queen City Drinks


Worker reopen and restore lagering tunnel in Cincinnati’s OTR Brewery District. Image via Queen City Drinks.

An icon of Cincinnati’s rich brewing history is the lagering tunnel – an underground tunnel used to age lager beers at the cool and constant temperature of “58.6 degrees Fahrenheit provided by 30 to 40 feet of earth.” In past decades, many of lagering tunnels were sealed due to unsafe conditions and disuse. Today, they are being reopened and restored in the new Over-The-Rhine Brewery District. Click through to learn more about the tunnels and how you can get inside them!

[Editor’s note: originally, the brewery district was referred to as a distillery district. Thanks, Tom, for pointing out the mistake! ] 

Urban Change to Believe In – RobertaBrandes Gratz at Huffington Post

“It is time to celebrate urban change, not the old kind of change that Ken Jackson and Ed Glaeser celebrate with new skyscrapers continuously replacing old buildings. That view of change reflects an antiquated notion of what growth is all about. No, it is time to celebrate the new kind of change that manages growth by balancing old and new and recognizes that the new derives its value from existing in the midst of the old.”  Click through for more!

[Ten on Tuesday] How to Preserve African-American Historic Places – PreservationNation

Folks from the Blue Grass Trust and the First African Foundation waiting for the tour to begin.

Folks from the Blue Grass Trust and the First African Foundation in front of the former First African Baptist Church. It was constructed in 1856 when most of its congregation was still enslaved.

“In honor of our country’s recent 50th anniversary of the March on Washington — and in light of this week’s Congressional Black Caucus annual conference with its exciting focus on the many ways preservation can benefit African-American communities — [Tuesday’s] toolkit features tips and case studies to help you save sites of African-American heritage in your community.”  If you missed it, be sure to check out Bricks + Mortar’s post about the First African Baptist Church in Lexington and the struggle to preserve it!

Baltimore’s Three-Part System for Dealing with Vacant Properties– Next City


Image via Next City

“Baltimore is no stranger to blight and urban decay. The city has lost roughly one-third of its total population since 1950, and its 620,000 current residents live among more than 16,000 vacant properties that drag down property values and generate feelings of hopelessness in many struggling neighborhoods.  Reversing blight is no easy undertaking. It requires serious dollars, transparent commitment and reliable data to develop a true vision for revitalization. These three components make up the mission of Baltimore Housing, a dual-agency group comprised of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) and the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) essentially operating as one cohesive unit.”

the picture

swiss chalet

The Fisher House in Cincinnati’s East Walnut Hills neighborhood near the University of Cincinnati campus is a an American Swiss Chalet. “The Swiss Chalet style”, according to the City of Cincinnati Planning and Buildings department, “was never widespread in the United States, [but] appears to have enjoyed some celebrity in Cincinnati. The American version of the style was derived from the Swiss cottage form traditional among Alp-dwellers for hundreds of years. It i[was] publicized by Andrew Jackson Downing in The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), a best-selling stylebook that did much to popularize other romantic styles such as the Gothic Revival.”

Lucien Plympton, the architect who designed the Fisher House, was influential in spreading the style in Cincinnati in the late 19th century. Houses of the Swiss Chalet style, or with elements of the style such as the distinctive roof, can be found in many parts of the city. Cincinnati has a very strong German cultural heritage, which may explain why the Swiss Chalet style found popularity in the city.

The Fisher House was completed in 1892. (If you look to the upper left near the roof line, you can see that the date was incorporated within the elaborate decoration).  It features real half-timbering held together with hand-crafted pegs. It is Plympton’s best known work. To see more photographs of the house (including the interior!) visit Cincinnati’s Architecture and Urban Planning Collection site.

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.


The Devil’s Advocate Guide to National Register Listing – HistPres

A new and hilarious resource for persuading stubborn ant-National Register types that listing is no big deal!  “Basically, National Register listing is supposed to be a no-strings-attached honor, and the simple act of accepting this honor doesn’t compel you to do anything. In rare cases, there may be problems stemming from overlapping jurisdictions with state or local historical societies, or over-enthusiastic preservation groupies. Just do your homework, and except [sic] your honor, and everything will be fine.”

Modern Ruins of Abandoned Detroit – TWC


Abandoned Packard Motors Plant in Detroit. (Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre). Image via TWC

With Detroit’s bankruptcy in the news this week, TWC put together a beautiful (if you are into the whole ruin porn thing) slide show of Detroit’s abandoned and deteriorating historic buildings.

Gateway Cities Don’t Need a Silver Bullet – Boston Globe

Almost every year some silver bullet — a sports arena, a casino, a conference center — promises salvation and rebirth for legacy cities ( medium-sized metropolitan areas struggling with manufacturing decline and population loss are a never-ending project in many parts of the country).  The truth is the silver-bullet syndrome can inhibit revitalization. A megaproject can become an important asset, but it is not a strategy for change in itself, unless it is integrated into larger schemes to make a meaningful contribution to the city’s future. A more incremental approach built on collaboration and partnerships — combined with a fresh appreciation of existing assets (like having faith in dense, walkable downtowns ), beginning with the physical urban form of these cities — holds more promise for rebuilding. The author goes on to suggest a number of other ways to reinvent struggling cities including, “don’t be afraid to demolish.” Thoughts, anyone?

Unbelievable Nail Houses -io9


On a construction site of a shopping mall, Chongqing, China, 2007. Image via io9

Unlike in the US, China does not have eminent domain laws that allow it to take the property of private citizens for public works. As a result, builders sometimes have to elaborately construct around the property of owners who refused to sell, creating unbelievable islands of history in a sea of progress called “nail houses.” Click through for a gallery of this phenomena. You have to see it to believe it!

Promise of Streetcar Driving Occupancy Rates in Cincinnati – UrbanCincy

Just as street car stops spurred commercial and residential development in 19th century, the promise of a new streetcar line in Cincinnati is driving occupancy rates in formerly (nearly) empty commercial buildings.

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Retro Slim Aarons Pool Side Photos – Apartment Therapy

Lounging In Bermuda

Lounging in Bermuda. Image via photographersgallery.com

Get your weekend off to a dreamy early start by clicking through this photo gallery of  mid-century poolside snaps by photographer Slim Aarons.

Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas – Colossal


Image via Colossal

The Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is considered one of the crowning examples of organic architecture in the US.  Built in 1980, it was designed to be “a weightless, almost translucent structure that offers sweeping views in all directions of the surrounding Ozark habitat. In keeping with the organic design of the chapel [architect E. Fay Jones] asked that no construction element be larger than what two people could carry through the woods by hand.” Because of it’s significance in design, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 when it was only 20 years old! Now it is being threatened by a power company that has has applied to build a 48-mile high voltage transmission line through Northwest Arkansas that will cut through the woods right next to the chapel. For those interested, the Arkansas Public Service Commission is accepting comments from the public regarding the proposed power line construction. You can also read much more over on Hyperallergic.

Houses in Disrepair Have A Place in History – The Columbus Dispatch


The Gamble House, and historic landmark in Cincinnati, was demolished earlier this year. Image via WCPO

In Ohio (and around the country),  millions of tax payer dollars are being used to demolish historic buildings in an effort to rub out blight. What this 1960s solution (that history proved with empty lots 50 years later isn’t actually a solution) neglects is that these buildings didn’t get this way on their own.  Property owners and cities allowed them to fall into disrepair. As the author notes, “A 100-year-old house in Europe is a baby. Some houses in Britain, France and Germany are three or four times older than those in our country. The point is that the houses are in bad shape not because they’re old but because they were allowed to fall apart.” And while not all houses/buildings are historically significant because someone famous slept there, they make up the historic character of neighborhoods and cities. “Without them, the character changes. And, if history repeats itself, the new character will be defined by a gaptoothed landscape of weed-filled lots.”

Epic St. Petersburg Palace – Curbed


The Gothic Hall. Image via Curbed

A rare historic palace on St. Petersburg’s famous English Embankment has come up for sale and is sure to attract interest from some of Russia’s newly minted billionaires. The only trouble? The price is so high, it is only available upon request. Recently used as bank offices, the 18th-century palace was built for “Duke Trubetskoy, one of Peter the Great’s favourite companions” and was passed down through the noble generations until the property was nationalized in 1917. Now restored with input from conservators at the Hermitage and State Museum, the commodious house has been returned to its original use as a single-family mansion for Russia’s ruling class. The 39,000-square-foot structure features 22,000-square-feet of preserved historic interiors, including an ‘Armoury Gallery, the Hunting Room, the White Hall, the Knights Hall’ and the especially ornate ‘Gothic Hall.'”

1 Main Street, Apt. 16, DUMBO, Brooklyn – The Corcoran Group

I’ll just let this video speak for itself!


Happy weekend, ya’ll!