Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lincoln Grant School

This school was the first school established for African-American students in Northern Kentucky. The school first opened in 1932 and remained as a school for African-Americans until desegregation in the 1960’s. The school closed in 1976 and later became the Northern Kentucky Community Center. The center is now closed and the building is vacant.

Lincoln Grant School
824 Greenup Street, Covington

38. Odd Fellows Hall

When built in 1856, this hall contained stores on the street level and an auditorium and lodges on the upper floors. It is said that Amos Shinkle who was a member of the lodge brought John A. Roebling in to create the system of cables that hold the upper floors. This hall has seen many things throughout the years like holding Confederate prisoners, a celebration for General Ulysses S. Grant, and in later years it was used for boxing matches and a roller skating rink. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is now the home of The Grand, a banquet and reception hall.

Odd Fellows Hall
434 Madison Avenue, Covington

37. Madison Avenue Business District

In the last published Queen City Tour guide it states, “Since the 1970’s, business activity along Madison has declined; Covington civic leaders and planners encourage reuse of the older buildings along Madison Avenue…”

Since that time things have sure changed for the better along Madison Avenue. The beautiful old buildings which were built in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries are being reused and there are a variety of businesses, restaurants, and shops along the way. Two places in particular along the route are the Madison Theater which is a great place to catch a show and The Madison which is a great venue for receptions and banquets of any kind.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kenton County Public Library

The Kenton County Public Library moved from its previous location at Carnegie Center to this newly constructed building in 1974. It allowed for the library to expand its collection and this location serves as the main branch of the library today. Aside from the library’s expansive collection of books, there are several great statues on its grounds like this one of a young Abraham Lincoln by Matt Langford.

Kenton County Public Library
502 Scott Boulevard, Covington

The Carnegie Center

It opened in 1904 as one of the Carnegie Libraries. What was different about this one is that it had an auditorium as well. In 1958, the library and auditorium were boarded up due to the lack of funds to repair it. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 but it was not until recently that the library and auditorium were restored to its former beauty. The result is The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center which now has an arts education center, an art gallery, and of course the fully restored theater.

The Carnegie Center
1028 Scott Boulevard, Covington

36. Cathedral Basilica

The Cathedral Basilica in Covington is designated as a minor basilica with the Catholic Church. The construction of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica began in 1894 and construction stopped in 1915 uncompleted. The basilica is an amazing building which is modeled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It features gargoyles and the Gothic architecture that you would see in a building from the middle-ages, one of the largest stained glass windows in the World, a very ornate high altar, and a beautiful pipe organ. The Cathedral also contains murals which were painted by local artist Frank Duveneck.

Cathedral Basilica
1140 Madison Avenue, Covington

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

35. Firehouse No. 1

Built in 1898, this Romanesque style firehouse was designed by Covington architect Daniel Seger and served as the main firehouse in Covington until 1970. Nowadays it serves as a sports bar but still has a lot of its original elements.

Firehouse No. 1
100 West 6th Street, Covington

34. Mother of God Roman Catholic Church

The Mother of God Church in Covington is a Roman Catholic church that was built in 1871. It is a beautifully designed church with tower clocks that soar into the sky, grand murals lining the interior, tall stained glass windows, great woodwork, and statues. The stained glass, murals, and statues have been done by international and local artists. A single photo does not do this justice and it is something that is definitely worth checking out in person.

Mother of God Roman Catholic Church
119 West 6th Street, Covington

33. MainStrasse Village

Covington’s MainStrasse Village is a great place to visit morning to night. You can pick up your morning coffee or eat brunch at many of the restaurants in the village, have lunch at a sidewalk café, or grab a late night drink and listen to some Jazz. This group of buildings, most of them built in the 1800’s has restaurants, bars, and apartments. In the center of the village is the Girl with Geese fountain which tops off the nice appeal of the area.

MainStrasse Village
6th and Main Street, Covington

Monday, September 27, 2010

32. Goebel Park

Goebel Park is named after William Goebel who was elected as governor of Kentucky and was shot on inauguration day and was sworn into office on his death bed. Among the park’s features is a 100 foot bell tower called the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower named after Kentucky Governor Julian M. Carroll. The bell tower features 43 bells with music and animated figures depicting Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Goebel Park
6th and Philadelphia Street, Covington

Devou Park

This addition is a little bit of a drive from the rest of the Queen City Tour but is well worth going out of the way to see simply for the great views of Cincinnati. Not only does Devou Park have great views but it also has some great things to see and do like the Behringer Crawford Museum, a concert bowl, Drees Pavilion, a golf course, and Prisoners Lake. A trip to Devou Park is worth the detour.

Devou Park
Park Lane, Covington

31. Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Bridge

The Clay Wade Bailey bridge is a cantilever bridge that carries traffic for U.S. Route 42 and U.S. Route 127 from Covington into Cincinnati. The bridge shares piers with the C&O Railroad bridge making the two bridges seem as one. The bridge, named after a Kentucky newspaper reporter is a 3 lane bridge with the center lane being a reversible meaning that it can go one direction or another depending on the time of the day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

30. Cincinnati Service Center of the United States Internal Revenue Service

With its iron bar fence and security guards it is quite intimidating. So much that I felt too uneasy to even take a picture. Since it is a stop on the original tour I will include a little information about it. This 18 acre site is used as a processing center for the IRS. It is named the Brent Spence Square after the Kentucky congressman who brought it here.

Cincinnati Service Center of the United States Internal Revenue Service
200 West 4th Street, Covington

29. Northern Bank of Kentucky

The bank is of a Greek Revival style and is considered Covington’s oldest commercial building. It once housed the state’s largest bank but today it is a branch location for the Bank of Kentucky.

Northern Bank of Kentucky
231 Scott Boulevard, Covington

The Ascent

This building makes me wonder what it would be like to live in a work of art. The Ascent is a building consisting of 70 condo units and was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Libeskind is known for his work on the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Royal Ontario Museum, and as the principle designer for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The Ascent adds a modern touch to both the Covington and Cincinnati skyline.

The Ascent
1 Roebling Way, Covington

Roebling Murals

The latest addition to the Covington riverfront is the Roebling Murals which are on the flood wall at the base of the Covington business district. These murals, commissioned by artist Robert Dafford is a series depicting the history of Covington Kentucky as well as the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

28. Covington Riverfront Development District

As you are crossing the river you will notice a group of buildings to the right. This is part of the Covington Riverfront Development district. Originally started in 1991, the project has grown from a few hotels to office space, restaurants, businesses, and a new conference center. When the district started, there was Covington Landing – a floating barge with restaurants and entertainment. In the mid 1990’s the barge was removed because of the high cost of maintenance. There are plans to build another landing but this time it will be built on stilts which would erase the issues the former had with debris and floods.

27. John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

Because of financing, concerns over the water way, and the Civil War it took a decade to complete the construction of the Roebling Suspension Bridge. The bridge was designed by John A. Roebling and was the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge uprights are constructed of limestone and sandstone with steel trusses and a metal grated driving surface. The suspension bridge is definitely the crown jewel of the city.

Showboat Majestic

The Showboat Majestic is on the National Register of Historic Places and the last of the original traveling showboats. The boat got its start in 1923 in Pittsburgh and would travel the rivers with performances. Over the years the boat found its way to one town or another before permanently arriving in Cincinnati in 1967. Because of waterway regulations, the boat no longer travels the river but is now permanently docked on the landing in Cincinnati. There are still performances on the showboat and it gives local actors an opportunity and a venue to perform. The rich history of the boat and the shows are worth checking out.

Showboat Majestic
435 East Mehring Way, Cincinnati

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

US Bank Arena

The US Bank Arena opened in 1975 as Riverfront Coliseum and was originally built to host a professional hockey team which was the WHA Cincinnati Stingers. When the WHA merged with the NHL, the Stingers were left out and played for a little while as a minor league team. Riverfront Coliseum as it was known had its share of problems in the early years with the most notable being The Who concert tragedy of 1979. Along with that, it was difficult for the coliseum to maintain tenants and attract shows.

The Riverfront Coliseum had several name changes over its existence from The Crown to the Firstar Center up until recent times being the US Bank Arena. The US Bank Arena underwent some major renovations and has become an updated arena and the deck which is part of the entrance to the arena was joined to the outer deck of Great American Ball Park. The Arena in recent years has attracted major sporting events and shows and has become the home of the Cincinnati Cyclones, an ECHL minor league hockey team with NHL affiliates.

Even with its ups and downs and criticism, the US Bank Arena has become part of Cincinnati and is the host to a championship hockey team making it one of my favorite places to visit downtown.

US Bank Arena
100 Broadway Street, Cincinnati

Great American Ball Park


Great American Ball Park opened in 2003 as the new home of the Cincinnati Reds replacing Cinergy Field. It is a state of the art ball park with a high definition scoreboard, restaurants, and luxury suites. Inside the park there are great views of the skyline as well as the river and includes such neat features as the power stacks which resemble the smoke stacks seen on riverboats and shoots fireworks when the Reds hit a home run and blows smoke when the Reds strike out a batter. Outside of the park hang banners representing great moments in the history of the Reds as well as mosaics and statues depicting the players and moments in baseball. Also included in the stadium is the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum which pays tribute to the oldest team in baseball history.

Great American Ball Park
100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati

Scripps Center

This is another one of the very recognizable buildings that makes up the Cincinnati skyline. Built in 1990, this postmodern building is often referred to as the, “Darth Vader” building by the locals because of its dark exterior. Named after newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps, this building was the tallest building built in Cincinnati during the 1990’s and is the media headquarters for the company of the same name.

Scripps Center
312 Walnut Street, Cincinnati

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened its doors in 2004 and serves as a museum for not only the underground railroad, but as a tribute to human rights and freedom. It is one of many museums in the country that are considered a museum of conscience. Not only does the museum have very interesting and thought provoking exhibits come through its doors but it also has some interesting artifacts on permanent display such as an original slave pen that was moved from its original location in Kentucky. Standing outside of the center is a section of the Berlin Wall on display as well as some great photos and works of art that all portray the fight for freedom.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati

Paul Brown Stadium

Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000 and is the home of the Cincinnati Bengals. The stadium is named after the founder of the Bengals franchise. The stadium can hold over 67,000 people and has all of the amenities of a modern day venue like luxury suites, plenty of bars and restaurants, easy to find score boards and two huge video boards for viewing statistics and re-plays. This new stadium has seen a few playoff games as well.

Paul Brown Stadium
1 Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

26. Cinergy Field (R.I.P.)

Cinergy Field began its existence as Riverfront Stadium. The stadium followed the typical cookie cutter bowl design of that era and had an appearance similar to Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Construction of the stadium was completed in 1970 and became the home of both the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.

Over the years in existence, the stadium saw many playoff and World Series games with the Reds. In the 1970’s the Big Red Machine dominated baseball and Riverfront Stadium saw a lot of action. In the 1980’s it was the Bengals turn to use the stadium and many a NFL playoff game was played at the stadium including the famed Freezer Bowl of 1982.

In 1996 Riverfront Stadium became Cinergy Field named after the sponsor who at the time was the gas and electric provider for the area. In 2000, the Bengals left the stadium to play in the new Paul Brown stadium down the street and as of 2002, the Reds vacated the stadium for their new ballpark which was built right next to it. In 2002, the stadium was imploded to make way for new riverfront development projects.

Monday, September 20, 2010

25. Tower Place

Tower Place opened in 1991 as the only mall in downtown Cincinnati. The mall had two levels of retail along with a lower level food court with a skylight overhead. It was attached to the Carew Tower arcade and the adjacent Pogue’s parking garage. Inside the mall was a fountain sculpture at the food court level and four paintings positioned at the upper level near the skylight. The fountain and paintings were tied together as one piece called, “The Four Seasons” by artist Robert Kushner.



The mall was once filled with many popular stores but within a decade after it opened, it started to see a steady decline in customers and retailers. In 2013 the mall officially closed and there are plans to make turn the Tower Place property into a 1,000 space parking garage with street level retail and the adjacent Pogue’s garage will be demolished with a 30-story tower with 300 apartments and street level retail going in its place. Tower Place 28 West Fourth Street, Downtown

The McAlpin

I chose this location as an addition on the tour for two very important reasons – the first being the historical significance and the second because it serves as a nice example of the revitalization of the downtown area.

This set of buildings serve as the home of the former McAlpin’s department store. The store opened up at this location in 1880 and went from one building to several. In 1990, McAlpin’s became part of Mercantile and the downtown location eventually closed. In 1998 Mercantile was purchased by Dillard’s.

This series of buildings was eventually restored to their former selves and converted into downtown living space. This like many other buildings in the downtown area have gone through this amazing transformation making downtown not only a great place to work but also a great place to live.

The McAlpin
15 West Fourth Street, Cincinnati

24. The former Gidding Store

This building which was built in 1883 once was the home of the J.M. Gidding & Co. which was an exclusive clothing retailer. In 1962, Gidding merged with their next door neighbor Jenny Co. making the company Gidding-Jenny. In 1995, Gidding-Jenny closed its doors.

What is unique about the former Gidding building is the very ornate Rookwood Tile which surrounds the entrance. The tile has fruit, flower, and faces on the designs and is very colorful and you really need to see it up close and in person to really appreciate the detail. The tile décor started to deteriorate but fortunately was saved when a major restoration effort was performed in 2003. The building is now part of the TJ Maxx downtown.

The former Gidding Store
10-12 West Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

23. PNC Tower

The official name for the building is the 4th and Vine Tower but in the past it was known as the Central Trust Bank Building. This building was completed in 1913 and is the 3rd tallest building in Cincinnati as well as one of the most recognizable buildings on the Cincinnati skyline. At the time it was built, the tower was the 5th tallest building in the world and the 2nd tallest building outside of New York City. It is a beautiful white building with a pillared top which resembles a Greek temple.

PNC Tower
1 West Fourth Street, Cincinnati

22. ACI Building

Also known as the Ingalls Building (named after Melville E. Ingalls – a railroad tycoon) and later the Transit Building, this is the first concrete framed skyscraper ever built. When this 15 story building was built in 1903, there were a lot of people who believed that with it being a concrete structure, that it could not withstand its own weight. Rumor is that one reporter camped out in front of the building overnight to get a scoop when the building collapsed - but it is still standing today. In 1975 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

ACI Building
6 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

21c. Tri-State Building

In order to view this final Daniel Burnham building, you will have to backtrack a little and head one block North to the corner of Fifth and Walnut. The Tri-State Building, also known as the Traction Building was built in 1903 and is of a Neo-Classical style. The building, like many in this area house retail on the first floor and offices on the upper floors.

Tri-State Building
105 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati

21b. Fourth & Walnut Center

Built in 1903, this is the tallest of the Daniel Burnham buildings in Cincinnati. The building is built on a slope and contains the Cincinnati office for Huntington Bank. The building closely resembles the same type of style as the Tri-State building (the next building featured).

Fourth & Walnut Center
101 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

21a. Fourth National Bank Building

Built in 1902 and designed by Daniel Burnham, this beautiful stone building was once home to the Fourth National Bank. Since that time, the building has been converted into a mixed use building consisting of retail on the first floor and condo/lofts on the upper floors.

Fourth National Bank Building
18 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

21. Bartlett Building

The long time home to Bartlett & Co. this building was once one of the tallest buildings in Cincinnati and the first steel-skeleton skyscraper in the city. Built in 1901, it was the first of four skyscrapers designed by Daniel Burnham (the other 3 skyscrapers follow).

Bartlett & Co. has relocated to Vine Street and at this time, the Bartlett Building stands vacant but there is talk of renovating this historic building into a hotel sometime in the future.

Bartlett Building
36 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Mercantile Library

It surprised me to see that the Mercantile Library was not on the original tour considering the history behind the library. The Mercantile Library was founded in 1835 by merchants and clerks in the area and included as one of its members President William Henry Harrison. Today the Mercantile Library is still a membership driven library and most of the books in its collection come from those members. The library not only holds a great collection of historic books on the area but also holds cultural events such as art exhibits and guest speakers.

Mercantile Library
414 Walnut Street, Cincinnati

Friday, September 10, 2010

20. Dixie Terminal

The Dixie Terminal building is a building on Fourth Street with some amazing details to it. The building itself was built in 1921 and designed by Garber and Woodward. The building originally served as a streetcar terminal and stock exchange. The arcade was lined with stores and included railroad ticket agencies.

There are so many intricate details to the building that pictures do not really do it justice. There is the ornate décor in the archway of the building, Rookwood tiles lining the doorways and if you are standing outside of the building looking in, you can see all the way through the arcade to the river. This building is one in Cincinnati that you definitely need to stop and see for yourself.

Dixie Terminal
49 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

19. 19th Century Commercial Buildings

Located in the Central Business District, these three buildings are part of the East Fourth Street Historic District and are on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings are a great example of the commercial landscape from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The center building is a fine example of the Italianate architecture that can be found throughout the city and walking near the buildings, you cannot help but feel like you have been taken back to another place in time.

19th Century Commercial Buildings
123-135 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

18. Cincinnati Gas & Electric

Before Cinergy and Duke there was C.G.&E who provided all of the gas and electric needs for the Tri-State area. This building was the headquarters for C.G.&E and it is not the company itself that makes this building what it is but it is the history of the site and the designer of the building.

This Beaux-Arts Classical Revival structure was designed by John Russell Pope who is best known for his design of the Jefferson Memorial and National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. At this location in 1790 there stood a log cabin and this is where William Moody, the first child to be born in Cincinnati. At the time he was born, there were 200 residents in Cincinnati. At the time of his death in 1879, the population was 250,000.

Cincinnati Gas & Electric
139 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cincinnati is a branch office of the Fourth Federal Reserve District which is headquartered in Cleveland. The Fourth Federal Reserve District is comprised of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern Pan Handle of West Virginia. The Cincinnati branch provides currency distribution services for financial institutions in other districts in the Federal Reserve.

Just as you would imagine a financial institution or government building, the Federal Reserve in Cincinnati has clean lines and a bright grayish white exterior and has a very strong presence.

Federal Reserve Bank
150 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

17. Christ Church Episcopal

The Christ Church Episcopal congregation dates back to 1790 and includes some very notable members such as Dr. Daniel Drake, William Henry Harrison, and James Taylor – the founder of Newport. The tall Gothic Revival brick tower serves as the parish house and was built in 1909. The church serves as the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Christ Church Episcopal
318 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

16. Queen City Club

The Queen City Club is an exclusive members only club for influential people from all over and their membership has included Presidents, Senators, Ambassadors, and many businessmen and women. The club is located in this 4 story limestone English Renaissance Revival building and the exterior is embossed with the four segments of society: art, architecture, industry, and commerce.

Queen City Club
331 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Queen City Square

Looking up from Fourth Street you cannot miss the newest building in Cincinnati. The Great American Tower at Queen City Square is 41 stories and 665 feet tall. As of July 2010, this tower is now the tallest building in Cincinnati. The building is nearing completion and is “crowned” with a tiara at the very top. The principal designer is Gyo Obata and once completed, Queen City Square will have over 800,000 square feet of office space. This building really adds to the Cincinnati skyline.

Queen City Square
301 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

Thursday, September 2, 2010

15. University Club

The University Club was founded in 1879 as a club for men who had a college education. The club had some notable members like President William Howard Taft. The original club lasted until 1896. In 1905, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton alumni got together and started up the club once again. In 1907, the club established its headquarters in the William Wallace Seely House where it is today. The Seely house was built in 1880 and is a beautiful French Second Empire Townhouse.

The University Club is still a membership driven organization and today the club has dining and athletic facilities as well as hosting numerous events like art shows, speaking engagements, and tastings.

University Club
401 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

14. Western-Southern Financial Group

Western & Southern Financial Group was founded in 1888 as a life insurance company and since then has grown into a financial services company. This building was built in 1916 and is an impressive piece of architecture with its tall columns and a sculpture by Ralph Menconi of the Santa Maria titled, “Onward to New Horizons”.

Western & Southern Financial Group
400 Broadway, Cincinnati

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

13. Guilford School

The Guilford School was built in 1913 and named after Nathan Guilford who helped establish the public school system in Ohio and became Cincinnati’s first public school superintendent. The building was designed by architects Frederick W. Garber and Clifford B. Woodward and is of a Renaissance Revival style. It is a beautiful brown brick building which served as a neighborhood school at the time and has separate entrances for the boys and girls. Since 1973 it has served as a school for disabled children. The entrances are adorned with the likeness of President George Washington and there is a marker on the side of the building which claims that Stephen Foster lived in a house on the site between 1846 and 1850.

The Guilford School
421 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati

12. Literary Club of Cincinnati

Founded in 1849, the Literary Club in Cincinnati is the oldest in existence and has quite a shining history. The club is a way for its member to present literary works and for authors to speak to the members. Since the club’s founding, there have been many great authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and Robert Frost as well as Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William Howard Taft speak at the club. The home of the Literary Club was originally built in 1820 and has been at this location since 1930.

Literary Club of Cincinnati
500 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati