Hear about travel to Cincinnati, Ohio as the Amateur Traveler talks to Erin Hinsen and Seth Walsh from UnlockCincinnati.org about the Queen City.
“Cincinnati is, I would argue, one of the nation’s best-hidden gems. If you love history, if you love renaissance, if you love craft beer, if you love architecture, if you love a variety of cultures, if you love sports, if you love baseball (we had the original baseball team), if you love heartbreak (we have a football team that loses every year in the playoffs), and frankly just a gorgeous city, this is a city that you name it, we’ve got it here.”
Cincinnati has a number of neighborhoods. We talk about downtown, and OTR (Over-The Rhine), Camp Washington, Clifton, and the Gaslight District, Mount Airy, The Banks and more. Erin and Seth describe a city that is revitalizing its downtown and its historic buildings.
We visit (virtually) the Underground Railroad Museum, the Taft Art Museum, the Cincinnati Music Hall, The American Sign Museum and the Cincinnati Museum Center. Even if you have never been to Cincinnati you might recognize which of these was used as a model for DC Comic’s Justice League’s Hall of Justice.
We learn that in Cincinnati they fight about who has the best chili (which they serve on spaghetti), propose sometimes with donuts from Holtman’s Donut Shop and host the world’s second-largest Oktoberfest.
Cincinnati and the area nearby produced astronauts and presidents (including the largest and the one who served the shortest term), leaders in the abolition movement and the real “Great Gatsby”. John A. Roebling used Cincinnati to warm up for the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
From parks to passenger pigeons, from theatres to tombs, from the river to the Red Stockings, learn about this beautiful city on the banks of the Ohio.
Cincinnati Red Stockings
List of Cincinnati neighborhoods
William Howard Taft
Washington Park Events
Cincinnati Music Hall
Kilimanjaro African Heritage Shop
Cincinnati Museum Center
Mt. Airy Forest Park
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe House
The American Sign Museum
Taft Museum of Art
George Remus (The Great Gatsby)
John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
William Henry Harrison Tomb
Camp Kern Zipline
Putz’s Creamy Whip has been open since 1938, but we still can’t get enough
Road Trip from Kansas City to Cincinnati including Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville
Food and Drink
Travel to Canberra, Australia – Episode 446
Chris: Amateur Traveler episode 511. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about passenger pigeons and parks, the river and the red stockings and chili as we go to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Chris: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host Chris Christensen. Without further ado, let’s talk about Cincinnati. I would like to welcome to the show Erin Hinson and Seth Walsh from unlockCincinnati.org come to talk to us about Cincinnati. Welcome to the show.
Seth: Thank you.
Erin: Thanks. Thanks for having us.
Chris: I was going to use the city’s nickname and say the blank city. But I don’t know what Cincinnati’s nickname is.
Erin: It is the clean city.
Chris: Yeah, actually I have heard that before. So for those people who are geographically challenged with their Ohio geography, where can we find Cincinnati?
Erin: So you can find us at the southwest corner so we border Kentucky and Indiana – literally in the corner of Ohio.
Chris: So close to the border that the airport is not in your Ohio.
Seth: You know…yes, very much so..
Seth: So close that we spend a lot more time in Kentucky than we ever thought we would.
Chris: Excellent! And why should someone come to Cincinnati?
Seth: The long and short of it is, Cincinnati is one of the nation’s – I would argue, one of the nation’s best hidden gems out there. If you love history, if you love renaissance, if you love crafts beer…
Seth: If you love architecture, if you love variety of cultures, if you love sports, if you love baseball – we have the original baseball team. If you love heart break, we have football that loses every year in the playoffs and basketball showed us again what happens when we get our hopes up and all around, frankly, just a gorgeous city that if you come and visit us there’s a moment, if you come out from the airport, come from the Cut in the Hill, the moment you turn the corner, the city just opens up in front of you.
Erin: That’s why I came to Cincinnati for school. Just the view is… it just takes your breath away.
Seth: I would say the only other view that I’ve seen in the nation that rivals it is when you come to the tunnel from Pittsburgh and all of a sudden, the city opens up. It’s just a gorgeous city that is really doing a lot to position itself for the future. It’s got a lot of things that attracts young professionals, families, the older population. This is a city that you name it, we’ve got it here. You may not know where yet, but we’ve got it here.
Chris: Now, you named lot of things but I want to stop on the one that caught my attention because I’m a baseball fan, the original baseball fan.
Seth: Yeah, so we are home to be the first professional major league baseball team. Ultimately though, funny enough it’s not the Cincinnati Reds. They actually turned into the Atlanta Braves but it was housed in Cincinnati for a number of years.
Erin: We obviously had to wait on another team to play but…
Chris: Yeah, that was really not a big advantage having the first team but…
Seth: 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockers were formed. If I’m recalling the history correct, I think they were there for about five to 10 years and then they ultimately they travelled the nation a little bit. They ended up in Atlanta becoming the Braves and then we almost nearly formed the Cincinnati Reds as they are today. So we are very proud of that fact. Every April, the 1st Monday of April, it’s a city-wide holiday essentially, where we do opening day parade. The city shuts down. They do a huge parade.
Erin: Students call in saying they’ve got scarlet fever.
Seth: Reds players from decades come back and not Pete Rose. You’re talking about Reds players if you don’t follow the Reds history you don’t know who they are. They come back and they’re Grand Marshalls and everybody seems to know them, have a jersey for them. Baseball is a really cool… obviously we haven’t won the World Series since 1990 but baseball is still very much the heart of the city here.
Chris: Interesting. I did not know that. Cool.
Seth: Yeah, if you come to Cincinnati you’ve got to go to the Reds. Even if we’re not “in a rebuilding season” as we are this year and every other year, you have to go to the Reds.
Chris: That’s okay. This year is an even year so it’s the Giants’ year. With that, where would you start a tour of Cincinnati?
Erin: I’m not originally from here, from Florida and North Carolina. So I fell in love, obviously, with the Cut in the Hill so I would come from the Kentucky side obviously. You would be flying in, you would coming from that and you have to just drive I-71, 75 straight into Cincinnati and then start downtown, essentially. So start downtown, see the Reds, see the OTR and then keep branching out. So Cincinnati is unique in that it has 52 neighborhoods but 32 business districts and each business district is small and has their own restaurants and shops and it’s a very much a small town in the big city so you go from the Reds to OTR, which has been rebuilding over the past 40 years so really took off in the past 10 years.
Seth: OTR is an acronym…
Chris: Thank you.
Erin: I apologize. It was a German settlement and just has had so much transition but it really is coming back as this driving town in Cincinnati.
Chris: You took us to OTR…
Chris: But I don’t know what OTR is other than a former German settlement. What am I going to find in OTR today?
Seth: Yeah, so OTR is the neighborhood just north of downtown but Cincinnati is a valley that kind of goes up in the hills. We’re the city of seven hills, really. So OTR is really a part of the downtown but it’s more of the housing section of downtown.
Erin: Our neighborhoods just flow into to each other.
Seth: It’s been used a lot actually recently – it was in the movie, “Carol” and it’s in the movie, “Miles Ahead” that’s coming out soon. I believe it was used in “Ides of March.” But essentially, it’s a very mixed use space from the 1800s where on the ground floor you get retail and then the top three or four floors are all rental houses and such like that.
Erin: And it’s a lot of cultural and a lot of arts.
Chris: Okay, well, let’s get a little more specific. What would you recommend we do in the OTR? The OTR?
Seth: Yeah, it’s called OTR in Cincinnati. It’s named after the fact that separate OTR from downtown neighborhoods is called Central Parkway, which back in the 1800s, was a series of canals, which many people claim that’s the reason that we never became as big as Chicago because at the time, we were one of the more successful Midwestern cities because of our connection to the Ohio River. The canals were then turned into a subway system that was never finished but the German immigrants at that time connected the canal system to the Rhine back in Germany and so they became over the Rhine. They were north of the Rhine. That then over the next 100 years kind of morphed into…it went into economic downtown very severely and in the 2000s, mid-2000s, the city decided to really spend a lot of money reinvesting. They put hundreds and millions of dollars reinvesting in this neighborhood. So OTR, when we talk about it is the focal thriving point of Cincinnati right now, really. There’s a lot of thing you can do in OTR really comes down to kind of what your tastes are. If you’re the type of person that wants to go to a brewery, OTR is packed with breweries that go from Rhine Guys…
Erin: Which is one of the popular craft breweries in Cincinnati. So we are…
Seth: Very IPA heavy though so if you don’t like IPAs, like I don’t like IPAs, you probably don’t want to swing by there. Although it’s a cool environment even if we don’t like IPAs but it’s very IPI heavy. And you can go to the Taft Ale House, which is an old church that’s been transformed…
Chris: Taft as in named after our former president?
Seth: Yes, who is from Cincinnati and accepted the presidential nomination downtown.
Chris: Who has the distinction of being our largest president if not necessarily our best. But…
Seth: And also the distinction of being the only president to serve as Chief Justice as well.
Chris: That’s true, which he was a good Chief Justice from what I understand.
Seth: Yes, that’s about as far as my knowledge on that goes. But we name a lot of things after Taft here in Cincinnati. So if you’re a young family in Cincinnati, say you’ve got kids or you’re like us and only have dogs at this point that we consider kids, we’ve got Washington Park, which the city just spent a lot of money renovating. It’s got a spray parks. It’s got a huge green space. It’s got an amphitheater for musical selection. It does, during the summer, I think it’s every Wednesday night at 10:00, they screen a different movie, not a new movie but like “Grease” and all those.
Erin: And on every other night they have yoga in the park where they do workouts in the park so I would go with friends of mine last summer. It’s just fun to do because you have all these random strangers working out in the middle of the park.
Seth: Quite literally, if you walk Washington Park, you’re going to find some new adventure there.
Erin: With a beautiful view of Music Hall.
Chris: Oh, Okay. I know exactly where you are then. Okay.
Seth: If you’re a food connoisseur, the other thing OTR offers you is just delicious restaurants. It’s got one place called the Senate that serves exclusively hot dogs.
Seth: Gourmet hotdogs.
Seth: Gourmet hot dogs, which are probably the best hot dogs you’ll ever taste in your life. Erin’s a vegetarian and she loves going to the Senate because they offer great veggie dogs. The Eagle, which serves pretty much exclusively gourmet chicken. There’s a place called Holtman’s Donuts, which is some of the best donuts you’re going to taste in town. They’re all within a two-block radius of each other.
Erin: Seth used Holtman’s Donuts to propose.
Chris: Yeah, that good of donuts really is what you’re telling me?
Seth: The media for Over-the-Rhine is just everybody who grew up watching Spiderman and seeing those grungy apartments and being like, “Man, I just want to live in a city.” Over-the-Rhine is the definition of living in a city but you’re not living in a grungy apartment along the way. It’s just a really nice area. You can literally walk and bike anywhere you want and be able to get to a brewery, a bar, a grocery store, a school. You name it and it’s there and it’s within like five blocks of you.
Chris: Okay, as we focus in on visitors rather than people moving to Cincinnati, we’re going to visit there first, fall in love with it and then we’re going to move there and propose to somebody with donuts.
Seth: You may be surprised. You may move here before you realize it.
Chris: So where else should we take visitors in the city?
Seth: All right, so then let’s get of the downtown basin. I would go up to the zoo, which is located in Avondale. The zoo, it’s a world class exhibit. Erin’s going to be able to talk more about it and I’m just going to turn it over to Erin because it’s such an incredible location.
Erin: They are one of the oldest zoos in the country and they do a lot for preservation as well as botanical gardens that they are known for. So they truly do have zoo babies constantly so they just had five cheetah cubs. One unfortunately passed away but then they adopted one from out west so they have five cheetah cubs again. So they do a lot of work. It’s fun because you get to go and see the baby animals. For such a central zoo, they do have a variety of animals and then they have festivals of lights if you’re there in the winter. And so obviously it’s cold and the animals aren’t out, they have one of the best light shows in the country. So you can go there rain, shine, winter and obviously it does get cold in Cincinnati so if you’re going to go in the winter, you definitely want to bundle up. I took Seth there on a date and gave him a baseball hat in the winter last year and he was not thrilled, so…definitely.
Seth: The zoo…it’s so rich in history. You could spend an entire day at the zoo and learn a lot th history of not only Cincinnati but zoology etc. Cincinnati is home to the last passenger pigeon, which died, I think, in 1912. We had a rhino…Erin knows.
Erin: Yeah, we do. I think it was a Sumatran rhino. We had one of…
Seth: We had one of the most endangered species in the world that the Cincinnati Zoo is one of the only in the nation to be trusted with it. They recently shipped it back to Indonesia to try and help it mate and save the population. I’ve seen a lot of zoos in my life. You don’t see a lot of zoos that really have the wide expanse that this zoo does and the history that comes along with it and the fact that there’s always new babies. It’s so funny though, because in all the places I lived, I’ve never seen people care about the zoo animals as much as they do here. But like this cheetah thing that Erin just mentioned, seems like everybody in Cincinnati knows about the cheetah that just got moved here from Oregon and it’s talked about all of the time because the zoo is so – it’s not just your everyday zoo that you’re going to see and take your kids to and that’s going to be a small, little area. You’re going to be spending all day there. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to hate yourself but you’re going to have so much fun. You can just see all these animals you wouldn’t expect otherwise. If you come in the next – I think it opens at the end of the year I think they’re opening a new rhino exhibit or hippopotamus.
Erin: Hippo exhibit. Yeah, it’s very central so it’s easy to get to where we have two highways that loop around Cincinnati and I’m pretty sure at least four of the exits that say to the Cincinnati Zoo so it’s easy to get to. They’ve got solar panels on the roof of their parking so you have a parking lot and solar panels on top of that so they truly are ecofriendly and conservation wise.
Chris: Okay, let’s talk about other sites like the zoo in terms of sites to go see for getting in touch with the culture of the city.
Seth: Yes, one of our biggest things with Unlock Cincinnati is that we have icons in the city such as the Reds and the Zoo. We want to connect you to the smaller mom and pop shops and really shows that culture of Cincinnati.
Erin: So essentially, we don’t want to take you from the zoo to an Applebee’s. We want to take you from the zoo to a really local gem of a restaurant.
Chris: Okay, excellent.
Seth: So you leave the zoo and the next place you go is the Gaslight District, which is located maybe three or four blocks from the zoo. The Gaslight District is named because basically, the street is lined with, go figure, gaslights. But it’s very much a business district that comes straight out of the 1800s. It’s got a theater in there that you feel like you’re walking to one of those dime theaters from the early 1900s.
Chris: Which is used for movies now or for life theatre?
Seth: Movies now, yes
Chris: And the name of the theatre is?
Seth: The Esquire.
Chris: The Esquire Theater, okay.
Seth: Yes, other…
Erin: They did the world premier of “Carol” at the Esquire.
Seth: And they did “Miles Ahead” world premiere actually last week, two weeks ago. The Gaslight District is also home to the original skyline, which if you know, Cincinnati is most famous for are chili.
Chris: Now, I know that but I don’t think everybody else does and if they just picture chili, they did not picture what you’re talking about.
Seth: No they did not. So we really like our chili served on hot dogs. We seem to like hot dogs.
Erin: Also over spaghetti…
Chris: The spaghetti is the one that caught me by surprise.
Seth: Yeah, spaghetti, hot dogs…
Erin: I would call it more of a meat sauce although you can do rice and beans and that is definitely and probably…
Seth: Erin mentioned we have 52 neighborhoods. I think almost every one of them has, insert certain neighborhood names here, chili. So Camp Washington Chili, Price Hill Chili
Erin: So Camp Washington is on the same level as Café Dumont and New Orleans. It received the same sort of accreditations.
Seth: But it’s all like…
Erin: It’s all within a 15-minute drive.
Chris: And you say every neighborhood has their own chili and you have to pick your favorite?
Seth: So you’ve got to go to Camp Washington Chili but I’d also visit Skyline Chili. The reason we wouldn’t have said Skyline right off the bat is because it’s become more of a chain but it began just like other neighborhood chili and it began in the Gaslight District. The other cool things about the Gaslight District, Erin did all of her Christmas shopping there this year. It’s just got all these mom and pop shops that you’re not going to expect and know what you’re going to find. Erin found – what are they called, muddlers?
Erin: Mukluks. They were made, I think, in Afghanistan so but they’re kind like slippers but also socks. So…
Chris: Shopping in the Gaslight District, do you have a couple of favorite shops that we should go, try out?
Erin: Yeah, there’s kind of an African heritage store. The owner is from Kenya and so it’s called Kilimanjaro.
Chris: Okay, which is it actually in Tanzania, but…
Erin: But I walked in just kind of expecting to browse around. Seth’s mom loves elephants so I figured I was going to find something elephantish but ended up shopping a lot more there then I expected. And then there are lot of kind of winter clothing shops, which I always find to be fun because who doesn’t like another warm blanket and there’s an old library. And it’s just…so Graeter’s Ice Cream is definitely famous here. They have black raspberry chocolate chip so if nothing else, when you’re in Cincinnati, you have to go get chili and go get ice cream.
Chris: Okay. You sold me.
Erin: There are bed and breakfasts in the Gaslight District so if you were going to kind of – I don’t know if you would stay at one hotel or change around but if you wanted to spend a day in each neighborhood so that would kind be, I guess, central Cincinnati.
Seth: …get your kind of central, northern Cincinnati. So we move on from the Gaslight District and what I’m going to detour off my list I’ve scribbled on here. We’d go to the Museum Center next. The Museum Center, I would venture a guess you know exactly what it looks like because it is actually the model for the Hall of Justice from the Justice League. Yeah.
Seth: Bet you didn’t think that place was real. So basically, the Museum Center began as a terminal for the trains and the different metros that were coming through there. It’s evolved over the years, gone through ownership as the rail lines have died down.
Erin: So obviously, so soldiers left from World War II from the Museum Center.
Seth: It wasn’t the museum center at the time. It was the Union Terminal. It’s still the Union Terminal but it’s now since the 80s, I believe, it’s become the Cincinnati Museum Center. So you can walk through, see the history of Cincinnati, see a national history exhibit. It still does, I believe Amtrak still comes there like 2:00 in the morning, some really weird time. It just travels through, stops there real quick. But also does, I believe, it does some metro and I think it does Greyhound.
Erin: Yeah, I think so.
Seth: But the really cool part about it is as the Justice League takes off the next few years, you’re going to want to see the Museum Center because it is literally the Hall of Justice. And the reason because of that is the people that did the comics were stationed in Cincinnati at that time so they needed a model of the Museum Center is kind of the model and the coal point of Cincinnati once you live here so they based it off of that and now it’s kind of taking on a life of its own. It’s going to be really cool that the people of Cincinnati are really hoping the Justice League films there but you never know. It’s a little different.
Erin: That’s right and you kind of have to do Cincinnati in sections so it kind of goes like the south central and then north central so the Museum Center would be more to the left side of Cincinnati or the west side of Cincinnati. And I think that the west side definitely has some beautiful areas and so we are known for our parks as well. We are known for a lot of things and this is what Seth means by the gem. So I’m from North Carolina and you can go hiking and there are creeks and rivers and everything so I came to Cincinnati thinking it’s Ohio but I knew nothing about Ohio but you can go kayaking and you’ve got these beautiful parks and hills and valleys and so it really does -anything you could think that you’d want to do, we’ve got it here.
Chris: When you say, so hiking you’ve got to give me a favorite hike.
Erin: Mt. Airy Forest. It is the largest park in Cincinnati.
Seth: In an urban area.
Erin: In an urban area. It’s just…
Seth: Yeah, so the cool things about Mt. Airy Forest, you get hiking trails. If you go to the Smithsonian, they’ll show you, I think it’s Natural History Museum of Smithsonian, it shows your rocks with fossils in it that say, “This rock was found in Ohio” and it shows you the little microbes that used to exist. You can literally go the Mt. Airy Forest and in the riverbeds, find the rocks like that. We did a part of my Cincinnati, we did hike through Mr. Airy Forest and this young son, he was like five years old, ran down to the riverbed and found us like seven rocks like that. These rocks that you see in the museums are literally just sitting there waiting for you to take them home if you want. Please don’t take all the rocks but so they’re there. It also has this really fun thing, which so one, it’s got a huge golf course so if you love golf, great place to go. It exhausts me when we did that. Then the other thing that it’s got that’s a little strange it actually has this huge tree house.
Erin: It’s handicap accessible or not handicap but it’s an accessible tree house.
Seth: Yeah, it’s probably the only handicap accessible tree house in the nation and it’s hard to describe. It’s just like it’s there. You drive by and you’re like, “What is that?” And you kind of go in there and it’s just a cool place to spend a little bit of time in nature but in a tree house because who doesn’t want to be in a tree house?
Erin: So that was…
Chris: One thing that you haven’t covered yet that I had a chance to do when I was in Cincinnati. I was in Cincinnati a year in the summer. In fact, I’ve been trying to do this episode since then, looking for someone to be on but I had a chance to see Music Hall, which you mentioned because we were there for a wedding and then also had a chance to go to the Underground Railroad Museum, which is a unique museum in the sense that I don’t know if anybody else has quite one like that and a large museum too and I thought it was quite interesting. The thing that I wasn’t expecting, I knew there was the Underground Railroad part. I didn’t realize there was a whole history of America portion of the museum and then also a portion of the museum that talks about slavery today and what people are doing to fight slavery whether it be wage slavery or sex slavery or all of those sort of things so very interesting museum, right down by the ballpark.
Seth: Yeah, and you know why that museum is located Cincinnati?
Chris: Because the Underground Railroad used to go through Cincinnati because it was the other side of the river and the south side of the river was slave and the north side of the river was free.
Seth: Yeah, we were the home of the abolitionists movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the house that she wrote it in is preserved in Walnut Hill still. I work in community developments in the neighborhood. I’ve been working in the last few years, Sedamsville has a lot of houses that have the Underground Railroad that literally ran right through it. So the national Underground Railroad is such a cool feature for Cincinnati but as you go off into these neighborhoods, you find the little bit and pieces that kind of connect back to it so you’re experience with the fight against slavery really permeates all of Cincinnati society. It’s really really cool.
Erin: And the museum takes you through time of the beginning of slavery and then through and then movement where they started to really fight against it. And then as it transitioned and voting rights and like you were saying with the slavery that still exists today, it really does move you and cause you to think – something you wouldn’t ordinarily think about or maybe you would think about but just puts it right in front of your face.
Chris: Excellent! Any other museums in the city that you would recommend?
Seth: There’s a really a cool one in Camp Washington that’s the American Sign Museum. It’s not a huge museum but it just all these old signs you used to see in the 50s from like [00:22:15 inaudible] and such. That’s a really cool one. The one that I have written here is the observatory, which was one of the most high-powered observatories for astronomers in the 1800 and it has a great history. Oho is nation’s capital for astronauts. We had Neil Armstrong, John Glen who was one of our senators. So Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon. John Glen, first American to orbit the Earth all hail from Ohio. We had the Wright Brothers . So the observatory is kind of a nice homage to them as well as the fact that it was actually the cornerstone was put in place by John Quincy Adams as one of his last acts as president.
Erin: And then it’s on this massive plot of land right next to a lot of parks and it’s truly beautiful to go to but also, they do a lot of star viewings at night, which is kind of a cool place to go at night, not something you ordinarily think to do.
Chris: You have the Taft Art Museum on your website – that was one of the reasons why I was asking. There’s great…the website about Cincinnati here is called unlockcincinatti.org. You should check it out.
Seth: Yeah, I hear people are cool.
Erin: The Taft Museum is…sister?
Seth: No, brother. President William Howard Taft’s brothers’ old house and they reached the point where they decided that they had a lot of money and they didn’t want to just invest it in stocks. They didn’t want to just buy more houses. They wanted to just go buy art. They went and bought a lot of art around the nation and then after they passed away, they deeded the house to become a permanent museum. The other cool part about the house is this is the exact house that William Howard Taft accepted the nomination to run for president 1908. So you go in and kind of immediately get greeted by the fact that like, how cool is that that his man who became president of the United States like accepted it right here on the spot. This is where he used to stay. And then you kind of walk through and you’re looking at art pieces that are 500,000 years old, all right there in front of you just because they didn’t want to invest in more real estate.
Erin: I guess one of the coolest things about it was in the dining room upstairs, there’s this kind of funky closet so I went downstairs and asked them what was in there. And the kitchen was down below and they used a pulley system to literally lift all of food up to the the dining room above so I thought that was cool.
Chris: So it had a dumb waiter.
Seth: One other fun story about Cincinnati while I’m thinking about it, I assume you’ve either read the book or watched the movie, “The Great Gatsby?”
Chris: I have done both.
Seth: So it is based on a gentleman whose name is I’m blanking on who’s from Cincinnati and he was actually one of first people to ever be acquitted of murder on the insanity defense because, correct me if I get the story wrong, but essentially, we have this park called Eden Park that is envisioned kind of as our Central Park. Beautiful, huge, swatch of land -overlooks the downtown. It’s up on one of the hills so it’s like, you kind of have the tower immediately sticking at you but you feel on ground level with them. So basically, he went to Alcatraz and came back, found out that his wife was cheating on him, got mad.
Erin: I don’t think it was Alcatraz.
Seth: She doesn’t think it was Alcatraz but it was one of the prisons similar to Alcatraz. Basically got madder, chased around the city in his car. This is the 1930s or whatever and gunned her down in Eden Park, which is this beautiful park. And he claimed that he was just insane because he couldn’t believe his wife cheated on him while he was in prison. He was a bootlegger during the prohibition era. It’s just a funny story behind the… we had the original Great Gatsby or the Great Gatsby and then he also got acquitted for murder because apparently he was insane when he decided to gun down his wife. And then he eventually ended up getting – I think he got convicted of something Warren G. Harding, another president and his scandal. I can’t remember what his name is though…
Chris: And I didn’t Google fast enough to find it, so…
Seth: It’s on the tip of my tongue but it’s not Gatsby though.
Chris: Cool! What else would you recommend people need to see when they’re in Cincinnati?
Seth: Well, you’re going to need to have dinner at some point so when you have dinner, you need to go to the Incline Public House. The why is that we used to have inclines, obviously, in Cincinnati and this pub is situated at the top of where one of them was and it has the most gorgeous view of Cincinnati that you’ll be able to have for dinner. It’s got great food as well.
Seth: Now, I was struck when I looked at your website that the picture at the top of your website looks like a very familiar bridge.
Erin: So yes, the bridge in Cincinnati that looks so familiar to everybody and frequently gets confused on Twitter with the Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John A. Roebling who also designed the Brooklyn Bridge. But we’d like to note that our bridge came first and was the model because people didn’t believe this type of suspension bridge was possible. So I guess they tried it in Cincinnati first and it was successful and it was a pedestrian bridge. It had kind of a streetcar at one point but it is still an active bridge today. It’s kind of a rumbly feel if you drive over it but they do have just a bike share program in Cincinnati and it’s beautiful bridge day or night, so if you’re there on a Wednesday and you see the bridge, just hashtag Roebling Wednesday. It’s a big thing in Cincinnati.
Chris: Cool. And I recognized it right away as Roebling’s work because I actually went to the same engineering schools as his son did and so my freshman dorm was the Roebling dorm that was built with money donated by the Roeblings.
Erin: Okay, very nice.
Seth: That’s pretty cool. You get a Cincinnati Red C for the day.
Chris: Is that right? Is that what we’re awarding?
Seth: We’re going to make it out, yeah.
Chris: What’s going to surprise me about Cincinnati?
Seth: You are going to be surprised you haven’t heard about Cincinnati before now and you’re going to be surprised that you want to go back as soon as you do.
Erin: I think, Seth can say that and it’s super cheesy and great but I think you’re going to be surprised by the housing stuff. Every building in Cincinnati, Cincinnati is rich in history but it’s also rich in old buildings and they’ve done an excellent job in preserving them and you can just make out the etching. And even our most vibrant area in Over-the-Rhine is still has its…it’s thriving with old buildings that have been painted and brought up to code. It’s just absolutely beautiful. You find a new building everyday.
Seth: And I think the other thing that’s going to shock you about it is that Cincinnati really really really likes when people come to visit us. And we really really really like to help you visit and see and explore and have a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of big events lately. We had the All Star Game for baseball last year and we had the World Choir Games in 2013 or 2012. We do this thing called Luminosity every year where the Cincinnati orchestra plays while they shine lights on Music Hall, this gorgeous building that you were talking about earlier. But we really like it when you come to visit because when you come to visit ,we’ll gladly tell you where to go, what to see, how to get there…
Erin: Emilio Estevez will vouch for this.
Seth: And Mighty Ducks, ducks quack togerher. All that stuff. He’s with us. We have the second largest October Fest in the world.
Erin: Second to Munich.
Seth: Yeah, we used to be the wine capital of the nation. Yeah, I can go on and on and on but we’d love to tell you about that and we all know it because it’s kind of engrained once you move here and you live here for a while, you got to know the things about Cincinnati because we’ll tell you about it until you’re tired of it. But when you come to visit, we want to show you around. We want you to have the best time imaginable in Cincinnati because it’s the only the way you can really enjoy Cincinnati. We’re not a city where you’re going to come here to go see the play on Broadway. We’re a city where you’re going to come here for whatever reason you’re here but then we want to show you the next step along the way, whether that’s the Underground Freedom Center, we want to take you to the zoo, show you guys Gaslight District, the Incline Public House. I think you’re going to be be surprised how friendly we are.
Chris: Okay, now you mentioned the October Fest and you mentioned all the things that going on in the summer. When is your favorite time to be in Cincinnati, favorite time of year first of all?
Seth: I love the summer. I think it’s just fun. The city is definitely more alive in the summer. You see people constantly out and about. If you catch us, I think once a month is the city flea so Washington Park fills up with just flea market vendors and it’s truly, people are friendly and are willing to help you but also Findley market, which is a very old farmer’s market. It’s been around over 100 years is full of vendors. So it’s definitely a more alive time. It’s a good time to eat ice cream at Graeter’s, although I can make an excuse for that any time of day.
Chris: We can eat that in the winter. It’s not a problem.
Erin: So I love summer. I think it’s a great time to get to a park and everything else.
Chris: How was the best single day of the year to be in Cincinnati?
Seth: Opening day.
Chris: I knew you were going to say that but I had to ask, okay. Excellent.
Seth: We just had, obviously, like a week ago and it’s such a cool experience, it’s like…
Erin: Everyone’s there for the Reds and you feel it.
Seth: Like everybody and not just Cincinnati like Hampden County, all the surrounding counties. Everybody’s there because this is the first… look, it’s not secret. Cincinnati Reds are going through a rebuilding year this year. We’re not expected to be good for another three years or something like that and I’ve never seen a crowd as big as they were here.
Seth: There had 200 people in the parade.
Seth: Those chili places we talked about, offer you a free cone for the day. We’ve seen a lot of parades in our day. You’re talking about parades that are five, six, seven, eight people deep throughout the entire course of it. And then, once the parade is over, then all of a sudden, there’s a big party on the banks, which is right there by the Red Stadium.
Erin: So if you’re visiting from another city, don’t wear another team’s jersey.
Seth: Yeah don’t be foolish. It’s opening day. It’s Red’s style. We’re the Reds. Buy a jersey if you have to. They’ll be cheap at Myer or something – not that we encourage that, but do it.
Chris: I’m going to guess though that if I wear my Giants sweatshirt to a Red’s game, I’m going to get hassled but not in a threatening way.
Seth: It better be a Cueto jersey. It’s the only way it’s going to be acceptable. But not on opening day. Not on opening day.
Erin: Definitely given a hard time but never threatening.
Chris: Because that’s what I find in baseball towns. We happened to be in Chicago when the Reds were playing the Cubs and we wore our Giants gear to the game and neither team was the Giants but we all bonded around. We’d all had Dusty Baker as a manager and we had Suarez. It really wasn’t a problem.
Seth: Yeah, not at all. Here’s one of the weirdest things – I’m probably going to get ostracized from my friends’ groups for saying this, but when the Chicago Cubs got so close to the World Series last year, I think Cincinnati became a Cub city just for a week, just because we were like, “Man, wouldn’t that be something for baseball?” And then they lost and we were back to hating the Cubs again. But the city, they find a way to rally.
Erin: The homerun derby is full of other jerseys and we still let them catch a couple of balls.
Seth: Not happy about it. Nobody was happy about it.
Chris: You mentioned for the parade, people ere coming in from the area. When we’re in Cincinnati, are there other things that we should do outside but nearby Cincinnati?
Erin: If you want to come for Labor Day, you can – one of the best views in the city of the Labor Day fireworks, 4th of July is big, but Labor Day is bigger is in Newport, Kentucky and you can watch. They just launch fireworks off the barges and off the bridges and we’ve got bridges that just cover Ohio River right in front of Cincinnati, so…
Seth: Yeah, Labor Day fireworks are really really cool.
Erin: Taste of Cincinnati is huge.
Seth: Somehow we’re connected to five or six presidents at some capacity. If you go west of Cincinnati, you go see William Henry Harrison the shortest tenured president of the United States. It’s great. It overlooks the Ohio River.
Chris: And he was the one as I recall who caught pneumonia from not wearing a coat at inauguration and died a month later or something.
Seth: Here’s a funny story about Cincinnati. This is not relevant to all to tourism but there’s a statue in a park it’s called Piatt Park and if you come here in fall, it’s one of the most beautiful places you can go. It’s located between 8th and I think Elm and Race streets – something like that, right by our City Hall. And it’s got this statue of William Henry Harrison on a horse. And the news recently ran an article but a year, year and a half to ago where it goes, did you know the statue used to have a sword? Nobody realized for 100 years that it was missing. It was just like the most random thing like how did you just forget this? It’s because nobody cares about William Henry Harrison, but there’s a lot of presidential history you can go visit.
Erin: Where was Neil Armstrong from?
Seth: Wapakoneta, but that’s about two and a half hours. So you can go see Neil Amstrong’s birthplace. You can up to Davis [sp?] about an hour north of here.
Erin: So just north of the city, so if you like to be more outdoorsy, they’ve got a lot of kayaking off the Little Miami River. We did that last year and it’s really affordable but it’s just kind of fun to kind of getaway for the day and go kayaking. It’s on a river that’s pretty shaded so that was a fun getaway.
Seth: Yeah, there’s a camp around the area. It’s, again, around the area. It’s about 40 minutes north, northeast of here called of Camp Kern and the very first thing I was told when I began in Cincinnati, was what you have to do is go to Camp Kern in the middle of summer and do midnight zip lining. And they ban adult beverages but apparently they don’t check for it. But apparently, it’s one of the fun experiences.
Chris: That sounds like a bad combination.
Seth: Yeah, I’m not endorsing that in any way so nobody can take my word for it but this was what I was totally when we began Unlocked Cincinnati was you got to enjoy the experience and do midnight zip lining because it would be one of the best times of your life. So that’s about 40 minutes north of here, there’s this place, again, I’m going to be ostracized because this doesn’t fall within our purview but there’s really a cool laser tag place that’s like the size of Target and it’s just in this old warehouse, essentially. And so it feels to me and it’s like two stories tall and if I was visiting here…in fact, I did this to my brother in law, you get three or four people to go. Nothing more than that. You sign up for it on a Monday or Tuesday night because nobody else is going to show up with all the little kids you usually run into when you laser tag will be gone and it’s one of the creepiest experiences in your life. It’s like being in the “Walking Dead” because there’s nobody else there. It’s just huge this huge warehouse. I’ve never seen a laser tag place so big. I don’t know how they support themselves. It’s just a lot of fun. I’m not allowed to talk about that. Erin’s going to be mad at me but I think it’s a lot of fun because you get scared because you spend like spending 20 minutes of this game not knowing where anybody is and then one minute of action.
Chris: Excellent! Well, we’re going to start wrapping up but before we do, before we get to my last four questions, what else should we know before we go to Cincinnati?
Erin: Bring a jacket wherever you go. It never truly – I was talking to someone about this the other day, it gets pool weather, there’s always a breeze. So even if it’s just a light jacket, bring a light jacket.
Seth: Just be prepared for the weather just change on you on a moment’s notice, which means…
Erin: It’s the Midwest.
Seth: If you look at the weather and it says it’s going to be raining all week, make sure you bring a pair of shorts.
Erin: And flip flops.
Seth: If you look at the weather and it says it’s going to be sunny all week, make sure you bring a rain jacket.
Erin: Or a coat. It snowed here like weekend.
Seth: And then it’s like 70 today. It’s so weird.
Chris: Now, I think you may have already answered this question but I’m going to ask it anyway. You’re standing in the prettiest spot in all Cincinnati. Where you standing and what are you looking at?
Seth: Piatt Park, it’s the middle Piatt Park, it’s the middle of fall.
Chris: With donuts.
Seth: Yes. What you’re doing is you’re looking west and there’s this beautiful church there. It’s kind of like Central Park but much more condensed to like one block.
Erin: And it’s got these archways.
Seth: It’s surrounded by trees. It’s got these archways. The trees…the leaves have changed colors and they’re falling down around you. You’re facing west and there’s this beautiful church that’s just been there forever and then behind it is City Hall and City Hall is not the White House but it’s this gorgeous. When they built it, they’ll never be able to replicate it. It’ll be too expensive to ever replicate it. It’s got this huge bell tower and…
Seth: It’s quaint in the middle of the city.
Seth: And you’re just like, “Wow, this is a gorgeous location.”
Chris: Cool! By the way, I do you know the romantic power of donuts. My wife’s first date with my wife involved a donut – a drive to a donut place in Vermont. I get you there. My first date with her was entirely different day but that’s a completely different story. So one thing that makes you laugh and say, “only in Cincinnati.”
Seth: Chili. There’s this weird rivalry about the chili here in Cincinnati. I took a new co-worker who just moved here. He went to Skyline one day. The next day, we went to Camp Washington Chili and he made the mistake of saying he went to Skyline and there was a huge …I’ve never seen a backlash so huge. You talk about how baseball you’ll get ruffled up, we’ll make fun of you for being a Giant’s fan but that will be as far as we go. They were ready to throw him out because he said he went to Skyline the night before. Nobody cares that much. It all tastes the same. I’m going to get so ostracized for that.
Chris: And Erin, did you have a different answer?
Erin: I do but I don’t – they say please to mean, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. So I thought that was very interesting.
Chris: Last two questions. Finish the sentence: you really know you’re in Cincinnati when what…
Erin: When you’re…
Seth: When you’re arguing about which neighborhood you’re in.
Erin: That’s true.
Seth: Erin just got into a fight before this with a guy because he claimed that he lived in our neighborhood but he’s clearly two blocks passed the border and I was like, “Not worth the time.” But I think they spent 10 minutes talking about it, debating exactly whether there was disputed territory or not. You know you’re in Cincinnati when you talk about the neighborhoods like that.
Chris: Is this like gang territory or something?
Seth: No, that’s the thing. Nobody cares.
Erin: People get very passionate about their neighborhoods.
Seth: Like we have these two neighborhoods called East and West Price Hill. I was talking to a guy who works in the neighborhood and he’s like, “You know it’s funny. If you do a development in West Price Hill, East Price Hill will swear that you’ve never done a development there. But West Price Hill would be like, ‘Oh, that was definitely East Price Hill.'” You’re like, you just can’t win.
Chris: Wow! Last question: you had to summarize Cincinnati in just three words. What three words would you pick?
Seth: I’m going to use one is red.
Erin: I’m going to go on a different thing. I definitely agree.
Chris: You can have your own three words. You don’t have to agree with him. Nobody agrees with Seth anyway.
Seth: You’d be surprised how popular that statement is.
Chris: That said, you get your third word before Erin gets the last word here.
Chris: Okay, and Erin, you’re going a different direction.
Erin: I am because I believe in full, cohesive thoughts.
Seth: Three words. You get three words to make a cohesive thought.
Erin: I touched on this earlier but everything you want.
Chris: Okay, excellent.
Erin: Erin Hinson and Seth Walsh have been our guests. Where can we hear more of your take on Cincinnati?
Erin: You can hear it on our blog on wcpo/unlock…
Seth: wcpo.com/unlock or online www.unlockcincinnati.org. Our contact information’s on there. One of things we love to do is if you’re coming to Cincinnati, feel free to shoot us an email. We’ll tell you what’s going on, what’s the doing.
Erin: Let us know how many people are in your group and we’ll make you an itinerary.
Chris: Cool! And your favorite post that you wrote recently about Cincinnati?
Erin: Putz’s Creamy Whip. It’s right by Mt. Airy Forest. After you hike all day, you go get some Putz’s.
Seth: It’s family owned ice cream shop. It’s really really cool. I really like the Know Theater because there’s lot of funny behind the scene stories of…it’s a theater but we went for a fundraiser and Erin ended up on stage and she decided to play a part and then she ended up listening to someone that is a developer and lost out on the prize because we listened to the wrong person.
Chris: And when you say the Know Theater its K-N-O-W.
Chris: Excellent. Well, thank you both for coming on the show and telling us more about this city you love, Cincinnati.
Seth: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much Chris.
Chris: In News of Community, I heard from Daniel this week who learned about the podcast recently when he started traveling for his company.
“Somehow companies started inviting me to events in different countries so I’m not complaining and your podcasts on the destinations I have travelled to have been outstanding in helping me plan my dates off. My wife and I love the podcast and the site. We’re listening to get tips on New York, Washington, Orlando, Miami and LA, which we’re visiting in November. Thank you for your hard work. It’s much appreciated. We also enjoyed your episode on Australian cities, especially in Canberra where we live. It was spot on.”
Thanks so much, Daniel. It’s always good and a little bit of a relief to hear when we do a good job on somebody’s hometown because I’m sure that there are people who are yelling at their podcast player right now that we missed something in Cincinnati, for instance. We always do. You can’t help it when you’re trying to cover a destination in just 30 or 40 minutes, but hopefully, we gave an idea if that’s the place they wanted to go and they can do more research.
With that, we’re going to end this episode of the Amateur Traveler. If you have questions, send an email to host at Amateurtraveler.com or better yet, you leave a comment on this episode at AmateurTraveler.com or vote for us on iTunes for your favorite podcast site and as always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.