Elements of Urbanism: Cincinnati

June 27, 2012 32 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores the urban core of the Midwest's Queen City: Cincinnati

Tale of the Tape:

Cincinnati Pop. 2010: 296,943 (City); 2,138,038 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1819)

Jacksonville Pop. 2010: 821,784 (City); 1,360,251 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Cincinnati (503,998)

Metropolitan Area Growth Rate (2010-2011)

Cincinnati: +0.37%
Jacksonville: +1.09%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Cincinnati: 1,624,827 (ranked 30 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,060,061 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Cincinnati: 2,062.6 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2010

Cincinnati: -34,340
Jacksonville: +86,281

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Cincinnati: Duke Energy Convention Center (19--)  - 195,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Attached to Convention Center:

Cincinnati: Millennium Hotel (872 rooms), Hyatt Regency (486 rooms), The Westin (456 rooms) all connected via skywalk system.
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Cincinnati: Queen City Squar - 660 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies:

Cincinnati: Kroger (23), Procter & Gamble (27), Macy's (110), Fifth Third Bancorp (372), Western & Southern Financial Group (482)
Jacksonville: CSX (226), Winn-Dixie Stores (363), Fidelity National Information Services (425), Fidelity National Financial (472)

Urban infill obstacles:

Cincinnati: Interstate 71 cuts downtown off from the riverfront.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Cincinnati: The Banks, Main Street.
Jacksonville: East Bay Street

Common Downtown Albatross:

Underutilized riverfront, although Cincinnati is in the process of dealing with this issue.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Cincinnati: 94 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 78 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

About Downtown Cincinnati

The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River.  It is approximately 981 miles long.

Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is being built in the northeast corner of downtown Cincinnati and is expected to open in spring 2013. Projected to attract nearly 6 million annual visits to the downtown, Horseshoe Cincinnati will be another high-profile addition to the city's impressive sports, entertainment, music and cultural destinations. The estimated $400 million new development will create nearly 1,700 casino jobs.

With nearly 100,000 square feet of non-stop gaming action, the casino will feature approximately 2,300 slot machines, 73 table games and a 31-table World Series of Poker room.

As a truly urban casino, Horseshoe Cincinnati will feature three outward facing restaurants to engage pedestrians and support existing cultural, nightlife and sports attractions downtown. A buffet restaurant, a food court, a VIP players lounge, a coffee shop and a main-floor feature bar will round out the food, beverage and entertainment offerings inside the casino.

Established in 1817, Piatt Park (est. 1817), is the oldest park in Cincinnati. It stretches two blocks between Elm Street and Vine Street on Garfield Place/8th Street. The land was given to the city in 1817 by Benjamin M. Piatt, a Federal Circuit Judge and father of Civil War general Abram S. Piatt, for "a market space." It was officially christened Eighth Street Park in 1868, and was given its present name in 1940; however it has been popularly referred to as Garfield Park. Two bronze statues of US Presidents from Ohio stand on either end of the park, with a sculpture of James A. Garfield by Charles Henry Niehaus facing Vine and one of William Henry Harrison facing the Covenant First Presbyterian Church across Elm. The Harrison statue is notable for being the only equestrian monument in Cincinnati.

In October 2011, Piatt Park became the site of Occupy Cincinnati, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Those staying in the park after closing have received citations of $105. On October 20, 21 members of the group were arrested overnight, after two weeks of having occupied the park.  The park is owned and maintained by the Cincinnati Park Board.

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is a non-collecting contemporary art museum that focuses on new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media. Remaining committed to programming that reflects "the art of the last five minutes," the CAC has displayed the works of many now-famous artists early in their careers, including Andy Warhol.

Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society, the CAC was one of the first institutions in the United States dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. Its inaugural exhibition, Modern Paintings from Cincinnati Collections, opened in the basement of the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 1964, the CAC moved to the Women's Exchange Building in downtown Cincinnati. In 1990, a highly publicized exhibit of controversial Robert Mapplethorpe photographs led to a trial that was chronicled in the 2000 television movie Dirty Pictures.  In 2003, the CAC moved to its first free-standing home, the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, which was designed by Zaha Hadid.

The Aronoff Center is a large performing arts center in the heart of downtown. Events that can typically be found at the Aronoff Center include: plays, ballet, popular music concerts, stand-up comedy shows, and musicals. The center was designed by renowned architect CÚsar Pelli.

Fountain Square has been the symbolic center of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States since 1871. The square, which replaced a butcher's market, was a gift from Henry Probasco in memory of Tyler Davidson. Probasco traveled to Munich and commissioned a bronze allegorical fountain from Ferdinand von Miller named The Genius of Water that symbolizes the uses of water, both natural and man-made. Originally, the square was a large island in the middle of 5th Street with buildings to the north and south, much like nearby Piatt Park. A 1971 renovation of the square included slightly moving and re-orienting the fountain to the west, and enlarging the plaza by removing the original westbound portion of 5th Street and demolishing buildings to the north. It is used for lunch-breaks, rallies, and other gatherings. The Fountain can be seen in the opening credits on WKRP in Cincinnati

In the early 2000s, the square was completely renovated and re-designed by 3cdc and BHDP Architecture (consulted by Cooper, Robertson & Partners and OLIN) to attract more visitors to the city, and to serve as a cultural/recreational hub for the city. In addition to the renovations, many buildings in and around the Fountain Square district are currently being renovated and redesigned to revitalize the region. The Fountain itself was completely restored and moved to a more central location in the square.

Government Square

The Great American Tower at Queen City Square, built by Western & Southern Financial Group, began construction in July 2008 and opened in January 2011 at a cost of $322 million. Half the building is occupied by the heaquarters of the Great American Insurance Company. When the tower opened in 2011, it was 670 feet high, 96 feet higher than the Carew Tower, which was previously the tallest building in Cincinnati. The building's architect, Gyo Obata, designed the building to include a top inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales's tiara. Gyo was flipping through books when he came upon a picture of Diana wearing a crown. "That's perfect. Here we have the crown of the building, and the nickname for the city is Queen City," said Joe Robertson of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum remarking to Gyo when he first saw the picture.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum based on the history of the Underground Railroad. The Center also pays tribute to all efforts to "abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people." Billed as part of a new group of "museums of conscience," along with the Museum of Tolerance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum, the Center offers lessons on the struggle for freedom in the past, in the present, and for the future as it attempts to challenge visitors to contemplate the meaning of freedom in their own lives. Its location recognizes the significant role of Cincinnati, where thousands of slaves escaped to freedom by crossing the Ohio River, in the history of the Underground Railroad.

Great American Ball Park is the home field of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball (MLB). The 42,319 seat ball park opened in 2003, replacing Cinergy Field (formerly Riverfront Stadium), which had been their home field from June 1970 to 2002. Despite the patriotic tone of the name, the park's name comes from the Great American Insurance Group, which purchased the park's naming rights. Carl Lindner, Jr., the late chairman of Great American Insurance Group's parent company, American Financial Group, was the majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds from 1999 to 2005.

Paul Brown Stadium is the home venue of the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. It opened on August 19, 2000. The stadium was named after Bengals' founder Paul Brown. The stadium is located on approximately 22 acres of land and has a listed capacity of 65,535. Paul Brown Stadium is nicknamed "The Jungle", an allusion not only to the namesake Bengal tiger's natural habitat, but the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle".

The Banks is the name given to the current mixed-use project being developed on the land between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park along the Ohio River. The construction for a new riverfront area between the two stadiums is the result of a public participation planning process begun in October 1996.

The final Master Plan calls for 300 apartments in the first phase, followed by 100 condominiums and 70,000 square feet of retail. It will also include an unspecified amount of office space. Groundbreaking took place on April 2, 2008 and the first phase of the project was completed in 2011.

The master plan for The Banks project includes a light rail transportation system. The Banks is the southern terminus of the first phase of the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar system, which if the second phase is completed, will link Uptown, Over-the-Rhine and Downtown to the riverfront and the new development occurring there. The streetcar plan has recently been strongly supported by council, mayor Mark Mallory, and many organizations and businesses in the area.

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. When the first pedestrians crossed on December 1, 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet main span. Today, many pedestrians use the bridge to get between the arenas in Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ball Park, and U.S. Bank Arena) and the hotels, bars, restaurants, and parking lots in Northern Kentucky. The bar and restaurant district at the foot of the bridge on the Kentucky side is known as Roebling Point.

Article and images by Ennis Davis