Exploring Cincinnati, Ohio

We are staying at a delightful campsite called little farm on the river.

I haven’t seen a farm, well any animals since we arrived but we are on the river, this time the Ohio River.  As mentioned in a previous blog, the Ohio starts it’s journey in Pittsburgh where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers converge-the Ohio eventually joins up with the Mississippi.  The river is slow, wide and chocolate brown but it’s nice sitting at the edge of it. Occasionally we see a tug pushing or pulling the biggest barge like structure you’ve ever seen!  We think it might be laden with coal as there is a power station further along the river with huge chimneys.

The campsite we are staying at is actually in Indiana, today we drove the car into Cincinnati which is in Ohio, and when in the city, we rode our bicycles over one of the bridges into Kentucky!

Cincinnati is a strange name for a city.  One of the founders of the city named it after a Roman dictator called Lucius Cincinnatus who saved Rome from some crisis… This is a picture of him portrayed on a stained glass window in the City Hall.

The city was settled in 1788 so it’s really old by US standards and as with the previous cities we have recently visited it was settled by Irish, Scots, Welsh and Germans and the architecture reflects it’s European beginning.

 

 

There are many ornate churches, cathedrals and synagogues around and the main government buildings are also beautiful.  We had an explore inside the City Hall.  At times, looking around at the architecture you could think you were in Bavaria, last century the city was known as the Paris of America.

When we were looking at one of the churches, this lady wanted to tell us how much she loves the architecture in the city and is very proud of the photos she has taken.  She wanted to make sure that Americans were treating us well and was so pleased we were visiting her city!

 

Today the city looks to me as though it’s trying very hard to be beautiful, clean, cultural and family friendly.  There are lots of parks, huge murals on the side of buildings and flowers around the place,

…but it has an edge to it.  Lots of homeless, abandoned buildings, seedy areas. We parked the car on the edge of the city and cycled in, passing what looked like a place where homeless sleep, rubbish scattered around and the odd handbag-at that point I clipped my backpack to my bicycle, usually it just bounces around in my basket.  It felt like there could be a bit of attitude in the city but we personally didn’t have any issues, infact as always the people are astonishingly friendly.

For African Americans (slaves) Cincinnati was an important city during the slave owning years (1810-1863).  Ohio was a free state, so many of the slaves came up to Ohio from Kentucky, just across the river and other slave owning states further south.

In 1884 the city saw the most destructive riot in American history when a manslaughter verdict was passed when many thought it should have been murder.  56 people were killed in the riots and over 300 injured.  It think it shows what a racially driven melting pot of cultures mixed here back then, it must have been a tumultuous place to have lived.  Back in the 1840’s there was great tension between the Irish and the African Americans as they competed for the same work. I suspect there’s still racial tension in the city today, but I’d like to think that everyone just gets along regardless of where they come from-everyone here arrived on a boat one way or another…

I noticed some signs in the city today referring to the city as ‘The Queen City’, it’s also called ‘the Naty’ and used to be called Porkopolis as it was a huge pig processing centre, today there are larger than life sized colourful pig statues all around the city as a reminder.

 

We spent ages today trying to find a bar in the city-it’s kind of world famous in Cincinnati but we found the street naming grid system very confusing and eventually gave up, instead we sat in a park and ate our packed lunch, as we normally do.

The city has made a feature of it’s river, making it a nice place to be, there are many parks and gardens that are all very well maintained.

 

There is a park here called Mt Eden that I wanted to cycle up, it’s hilly and large but I thought it might be worth it, it’s known as America’s Montmartre, but it was 100deg today and the city itself is a little hilly.  I ran out of steam and the park will have to be explored on another trip.

Tomorrow we are off to Nashville, Tennessee.