Tuesday, August 31, 2010

11. Fourth Street

Back in the 1800’s Fourth Street was the place to be in Cincinnati. The street was filled with shops, businesses, and apartment buildings among other things. Even today, Fourth Street has a lot of the character and architecture from that period in time and onto modern times. The posts following will show a lot of the unique sights on and around this street. This is definitely an area of Cincinnati you do not want to miss.

Fort Washington Monument

In 1789, Fort Washington was built in the area around Fourth and Arch Street overlooking the Licking River. The fort was originally built to protect the settlements in the Northwest Territory and was a base for many attacks on native tribes in the region. By 1803 the fort was abandoned by the army.

Across from Lytle Park on Arch Street where the fort once stood is this simple monument marking the area that once was Fort Washington. This monument is a replica of the fort’s blockhouse. This monument was originally dedicated in 1901.

Fort Washington Monument
Arch Street (near the Guilford School Building), Cincinnati

10. Statue of Abraham Lincoln

This statue of Abraham Lincoln is located in Lytle Park and was dedicated in 1917 as a gift from Charles and Anna Taft. The statue is the work of sculptor George Grey Barnard and is one of only a few statues that show Lincoln without a beard. The statue is 11 foot tall and shows Lincoln with a weary expression. When the statue was first dedicated, it did not get a very favorable reception but for me, it is a unique piece of work and worthy of the man it portrays.

Statue of Abraham Lincoln
Lytle Park, Cincinnati

Monday, August 30, 2010

9. Lytle Park

Lytle Park is named after the Civil War Brigadier General William Haines Lytle who once had his home on this piece of land. The park which was created in 1906 is nestled within the city directly across the street from the Taft Museum and is a nice collection of floral gardens, statues, and monuments. It is a beautiful and nice refuge right in the middle of the Cincinnati.

In the 1960’s there was a plan to build Interstate 71 right through the park. The park was saved when a concrete slab was placed over the interstate creating the Lytle Tunnel on I-71. The freeway itself runs directly under the park.

Lytle Park
East Fourth and Lawrence Streets, Cincinnati

8. Taft Museum

What is now the Taft Museum was originally built around 1820 for Martin Baum and through the years was owned by Nicholas Longworth and David Sinton, the father of the museum’s co-founder Anna Sinton Taft. It was the Taft family who in 1927 gave the home and its extensive art collection to the people of Cincinnati and became the Taft Museum.

If you have not been inside the museum do yourself a favor and go sometime. It is a very beautiful home filled with many great works of art. The museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and also has a great outdoor reception area for weddings and gatherings.

Taft Museum
316 Pike Street, Cincinnati

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gateway Sculpture

While turning on Pike from Fifth Street, you will notice a unique sculpture between the two streets. This sculpture is part of the Cincinnati Gateway Program which is to enhance the, “front doors” to the city. There are several sections of the city that have improvements from the Gateway Program and it is a way for the city to greet visitors into the downtown area.

This sculpture is of an art deco design and includes a water feature as well. It is a great feature for a city that has a very large collection of art deco buildings.

Gateway Sculpture
Corner of East Fifth and Pike Street, Cincinnati

7. The Proctor and Gamble Company

What is now a global corporation and one of the leading makers of household products, Proctor & Gamble started in 1837 when William Proctor, a soap maker and James Gamble, a candle maker became partners and started P&G.

The Proctor and Gamble world headquarters goes by many names like, “twin towers” and a few others that I will not mention. This postmodern building was completed in 1985 and has become a symbol of the Cincinnati skyline. P&G has centers and plants all over the country and the world, but aside from their corporate headquarters downtown, they have a plant located in St. Bernard called Ivorydale which is another excellent architectural piece and is worth taking a trip to.

The Proctor and Gamble Company
Proctor and Gamble Plaza, East Fifth Street, Cincinnati

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

6. Cincinnati Masonic Center

The Freemasons have some amazing buildings all over the World. Their style of architecture can be different from town to town but the buildings always have a strong presence no matter what type of style it is. The Cincinnati Masonic Center is a perfect example of this bold and strong architecture with its neo-classical style. It is a very large building that stands out with its ionic columns and etchings of the Freemason symbols bordering the front of the building. It is definitely a site to behold. This building which was built in 1928 also includes the Taft Theater to its right which is a great venue to catch a variety of shows.

Cincinnati Masonic Center
17 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

5. Chiquita Center

This is the World headquarters for Chiquita, the leading distributor of bananas in the United States. I do not know if this is the building that Miss Chiquita Banana works in. The Chiquita Center – also known as Columbia Plaza was built in 1984 and the architectural style is modernism. It is said that the building is shaped like a banana when viewed from the top but I just don’t see it.

At one time the building had two important parts to it that are no longer there. The entrance to the building once had a sculpture called, Cincinnati Story by artist George Sugarman which was a very interesting piece depicting the rise of the city from the banks of the Ohio River. In 1999 the sculpture was moved to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio.

The building also served as a weather beacon at one time. The top level of the building would light up with a different color depending on the weather forecast. My understanding is that this isn’t done anymore.

Although the design of the building itself is interesting, I feel what really made the building was the sculpture and the weather beacon. Currently there is only a fountain in the front with a very, neon-like blue water coming from it.

Chiquita Center
250 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati

Monday, August 23, 2010

4. Two Rectangles Vertical Gyratory II, Variation IV

Those living outside of the city and even some of the locals in Cincinnati may not realize that the city has some excellent displays of art. There is of course some amazing architecture with some very fine detailing both inside and out as well as some amazing statues, sculptures, wall murals, and some of the finest art museums and galleries around. I credit the Contemporary Arts Center for some of the great works of modern art like this.

This sculpture on the corner of Fifth and Main Streets was created in 1979 by artist George Rickey. It is a kinetic sculpture composed of two rectangular shapes that move with the wind while maintaining its balance on a 28 foot shaft. I spent some time watching this work of art as it moved around and to this day, it still amazes me.

Two Rectangles Vertical Gyratory II, Variation IV
Fifth and Main Street, Cincinnati

3. Potter Stewart United States Courthouse

First, let’s start with a little bit of a civics lesson. In the United States, there are three federal courts: district courts, court of appeals, and the Supreme Court. The Potter Stewart United States Courthouse serves as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ohio Southern District Court.

The courthouse is named after Associate Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower in 1958 and Justice Stewart served on the Supreme Court until his retirement in 1981. He was succeeded by Sandra Day O’Conner. Justice Stewart passed away in 1985 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Potter Stewart United States Courthouse could just as well be a building from Washington D.C. It contains all of the styles of a federal building and is a good example of Modern Classicalism. The lobby of the center is lined with Rookwood Tiles which gives it a nice link to the city of Cincinnati.

Potter Stewart United States Courthouse
100 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati

Sunday, August 22, 2010

John F. Kennedy Plaque

Just a little ways up the street from where Metrobot once stood there is a plaque on the side of a building not far from the entrance to Fountain News. This plaque marks a speech that President John F. Kennedy made at that site back in 1962.

I am a bit of a history geek so any type of sign that tells me what a president did or did not do at a specific location gets me all excited.

But I do have to question this sign a little bit. It is true that President Kennedy spoke at Fountain Square but according to the JFK library, the speech was on October 5, 1962 and not October 8, 1962 as the sign states. The JFK Library shows President Kennedy in the Oval Office on the day that the plaque claims he made the speech in Cincinnati.

But no matter who is right, it is great to stop and imagine what it would have been like to be on Fountain Square on that day in October listening to President Kennedy speak.

John F. Kennedy plaque
On 5th Street on the corner of 5th and Walnut, Cincinnati

2. Metrobot (R.I.P.)

NOTE: From time to time I will come across a stop on the tour that no longer exists. These stops will be noted with a, “R.I.P.”

There was a time in this great city when large robots roamed the streets. Okay, it was only one robot and it didn’t necessarily roam more than it kind of loitered on the corner of 5th and Walnut. The robot I speak of is Metrobot who at one time would great visitors to the Contemporary Arts Center which at the time was located on 5th Street. This 26 foot tall robot had many components – an extended left arm which would tell you about the happenings at the CAC, a wrist watch on its right hand and video which would interact with passers by. Metrobot was created by renowned sculptor Nam June Paik to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CAC and the 200th anniversary of the city.

Last Summer, Metrobot was reported missing. It appears that the lease was up and Metrobot was disassembled and placed into storage. I for one will miss Metrobot’s friendly face an will look forward to his return to the streets of Cincinnati.

Friday, August 20, 2010

1. Fountain Square and the Tyler Davidson Fountain

Fountain Square is the perfect place to start any tour or visit to Cincinnati. It is for the most part the center of the city and the center of many things that happen downtown. Over the years the square has changed many times but it has always maintained its appeal. Whether this is your starting place for a tour, meeting up with friends for Oktoberfest, or in town for a visit, everyone knows where Fountain Square is. The square is only a short walk from most of the hotels in the city and has a lot to offer.

There are a lot of fantastic restaurants located around the square and you can get your fill of a Cincinnati favorite, Graeters Ice Cream right there. In the Summer the square is filled with people watching a movie or a game on the large screen above Macys and Palomino, there are concerts on Fridays as well as festivals like Taste Of Cincinnati. Heading into Fall you have Oktoberfest which officially starts on the square with the Chicken Dance and in the Winter months a skating rink is placed on the square for individual skating and broom ball. Fountain Square has become Cincinnati’s living room.

The centerpiece of the square is the Tyler Davidson Fountain which is officially called, Genius Of Water. The fountain was presented to the city in 1871 by Henry Probasco in honor of his brother-in-law Tyler Davidson. The fountain was designed and cast in Germany and brought here to Cincinnati. The fountain is a beautiful piece of art with the arms of, “The Lady” outstretched with water coming from the palms of her hands and below her are elements that depict the uses of water as well as four boys taming water creatures around the rim. The fountain has become the most iconic image of Cincinnati.

Fountain Square
5th and Vine Steet, Cincinnati

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Anyone who has lived in Cincinnati for any period of time has seen them. They are the purple signs with the yellow crown and directional arrows that say, “Queen City Tour”. I for one have seen them many times over and truthfully have not paid much attention to them until one Sunday morning not too long ago. On our way home from brunch, waiting for the light to turn green, one of these signs caught my attention and peaked my interest. My interest in these signs turned to an obsession and from there I worked to find more about this tour and where it would lead me. I turned to the Internet and search after search I began to learn more about this tour.

The Queen City Tour was originally put together by the Greater Cincinnati Beautiful Committee in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, the Enquirer Information Services, and the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau. The Queen City Tour officially began in June, 1970 and was originally created as a way to see the scenic and historic sites surrounding the city in a short 2 hour drive. Maps were created for the tour and the directional signs were posted. It was a quick and easy way to see what the city had to offer from the comfort of your automobile. Of course if you really want to appreciate all the city has to offer it will require many stops and a lot of walking.

Over the course of time the Queen City Tour has been updated from 88 scenic and historic sites to the last update in 1996 of 103 sites. From its original start with the Greater Cincinnati Beautiful Committee it has been passed on to The Queen City Tour Committee and Cincinnati Historical Society. As of today, some of the signs are faded and others have been damaged or lost due to construction. Even though the guide may be a little outdated and some of the streets have changed, there are some interesting bits on this tour and it is a worthwhile journey to take.

My intent is to keep as much of the tour in the original form as outlined in the 1996 tour guide. There have been many changes to this great city over the course of 14 years and I will try my best to pay tribute to what is now gone from the city as well as what is new along the tour route. From time to time I will add a detour here and there for some must see gems in this city. I hope you enjoy what I put here but more than that, I hope that you go and take the tour for yourself.