Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Riverside Rides"

US Route 52 stretches from North Dakota to South Carolina. In Ohio the route runs along the Ohio River and just outside of downtown Cincinnati, it is known as Riverside Drive.

The mural located along Riverside Drive in the East End is another one of the MuralWorks projects created by ArtWorks. The theme of this mural reflects transportation through time along the Ohio River and Riverside Drive. Located near an old trolley station, the mural depicts the old streetcars from Cincinnati as well as the cars, buses, trains, and riverboats that could be found while driving this section of road. A BMX bike is also included in the mural to represent the cyclists who use this section of the wall for sport.

“Riverside Rides”
2726 Riverside Drive, East End

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cincinnati Skywalk

The Cincinnati Skywalk system was first introduced in 1957 by then director of planning Herbert W. Stevens. The intention of the system was to give pedestrians an easy way to navigate the city away from the perceived dangers of the streets. The first piece of the Skywalk was built in 1971 connecting the convention center to Fountain Square. Over the next two decades, more sections were added creating a 1.3-mile long system that spanned 15 blocks. The Skywalk kept pedestrians warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and protected them from the rain and snow. It connected offices, stores, hotels, and restaurants.

With the recent rebirth of the city and renewed connection to the streets, the Skywalk has fallen into disfavor and is not used as much as it once was. Parts of the Skywalk are closed and some parts just come to a dead end. It is still possible to walk parts of the city using the system, but not as much as one originally could.

Check out Queen City Discovery's Virtual Tour of the Skywalk here and a map of the skywalk here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Deskey Mural

This 6-story mural stands on the side of the home of Deskey Integrated Branding. The mural consisting of a black background with blue hands and white thumbprints is a reproduction of a Donald Deskey design for some of the wall covering in Radio City Music Hall. While it was never used there, it captures the spirit of the firm and is a fitting tribute to Donald Deskey, the founder of the company which carries his name.

Donald Deskey was a leader of modern design in the United States. He was a painter, an industrial design artist, and with Phillip Vollmer, worked with furniture and textile designs. Deskey became well known for his Art Deco designs and one of his biggest accomplishments was the interior design of Radio City Music Hall. From his offices in Manhattan and in Cincinnati, Deskey created product designs for some of the biggest household brands like Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent, and Jif peanut butter. Donald Deskey also created the New York City lampposts in the 1950’s and 1960’s – some are still standing today.

Deskey Mural

120 East Eighth Street, Downtown

Thanks to reader, Doug S. for the additional information.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Old Woodward High School

Woodward High School was founded as the Woodward Free Grammar School in 1831 and was name for William Woodward who donated the land to build a school in order to educate children who could not afford private schooling. The site of the school is historic in the sense that the land is linked to the Underground Railroad and the man considered the president of the Underground Railroad once had a home here. Several schools were built on the land prior to the one that stands today. In 1907, construction started with President William Howard Taft, an 1874 graduate of Woodward laying the cornerstone. The school opened in 1910.

The school is a 5-story brick building designed by Gustav Brach and at the time it was built it was considered a very modern building with flushing toilets, central heating, and even Rookwood Pottery drinking fountains.

Woodward High School moved to Bond Hill in 1953 and the old school became the Abigail Cutter Junior High School named after William Woodward’s wife. In 1976, the School for Creative and Performing Arts occupied one floor of the building and by 1977 it occupied the entire building. The school was in the national spotlight in 2009 with the MTV show, Taking The Stage that was filmed at the location. In 2010, the SCPA moved to the new Erich Kunzel Center for the Arts.

Old Woodward School
1310 Sycamore Avenue, Pendleton

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cincinnati Observatory

The original observatory was built on the top of Mt. Ida on land given to the Cincinnati Astronomical Society by Nicholas Longworth. Former President John Quincy Adams laid the cornerstone of the observatory in 1843. The speech given by John Quincy Adams on the site of the observatory would be his last public speech and later Mt. Ida became Mt. Adams. The original observatory became operational in 1845.

With the increase in population and factories in the city basin, the observatory on Mt. Adams became useless due to the pollution. In 1873 the observatory was moved to Mt. Lookout and the cornerstone from the original building was used in the new observatory.

There are two buildings that make up the Cincinnati Observatory Center. The main building is a Georgian Revival which once had a turret that rotated on old cannonballs before a dome was added in 1895 and the second building called the, O.M. Mitchel Building was constructed in 1904. Samuel Hannaford designed both buildings.

The Cincinnati Observatory has been instrumental in the study of astronomy over the years providing data important in determining the rotation of the Milky Way as well as data utilized in modern theories such as the Big Bang. Meteorologist Cleveland Abbe began to issue daily weather bulletins from the observatory in 1869 and his work eventually led to the creation of the United States Weather Bureau.

The observatory has the oldest professional telescope in the United States dating back to 1843 and the Cincinnati Observatory is a National Historic Landmark. Today the observatory is still in use and holds many educational events as well as private parties and weddings. The center is open to the public on some evenings for viewings.

Cincinnati Observatory
3489 Observatory Place, Mt. Lookout

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


On Fifth Street across from the convention center tucked in right off of the street is the sculpture designed by local artist Stuart Fink who created this sculpture in 1985. With the construction of an office/retail building on the corner of Fifth and Elm Streets and the building of a parking garage, an open space was left between them and the city was looking for something to fill this space. The city commissioned Fink to build a sculpture to fill the area. Originally intended to be temporary, the sculpture outlasted its expectancy.

The sculpture is 28 pieces of concrete which is interlocked in a maze of arcs, levels, and planes meant to resemble an abstract cityscape. It is intended as a functional piece where it is not only art, but a place to sit and rest or play.

Convention Place Mall, Fifth Street, Downtown

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Woodward

Built in 1915, The Woodward was once a neighborhood theater and is now home to Greg’s Antiques. The building has a wonderful patterned brick fa├žade and colorful woodwork and still has the look of a theater from the front. The highlight of this building is the two female statues that adorn both sides of the entrance.

The Woodward
1404 Main Street, Over The Rhine

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mushroom House

The house has been called the, “mushroom house”, “tree house”, and “Dr. Seuss house”. The design comes from the imagination of Terry Brown who was an architect and professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati. Professor Brown with the help of students from the University of Cincinnati DAAP program worked on the house from 1992 to 2006. The house was built around a small cottage that was built in 1913. The whimsical home was built with a variety of materials such as cedar shakes, seashells, tiles, stained glass, and metals. This ornate home features a variety of shapes, colors, and textures with a winding steel steps and even a mosaic chimney.

Terry Brown sold the home in 2006 and sadly passed away in 2008.

Mushroom House
3331 Erie Avenue, Hyde Park

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

St. Francis de Sales Church

The parishioners of St. Francis de Sales found a need for a larger church and in 1878, laid the cornerstone for this church designed by architect Francis George Himpler. The church is of a middle German and French Gothic style church made of limestone. The church was dedicated in 1879. In 1895 the bell named, “Big Joe” after Joseph T. Buddeke – the largest donor to the project was added. The bell is the largest swinging bell ever cast in the United States. It weighs 35,000 pounds, is 9 feet in diameter, 7 feet from top to bottom, and was cast in Cincinnati by the E. W. Van Duzen Company. Rumor has it that when the bell was first rung it could be heard within a 15-mile radius and it shattered windows in the neighborhood. Today a foot hammer on the edge of the bell is used instead of the large clapper and the bell is rung three times a day.

St. Francis de Sales Church
1600 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shepard Fairey Murals

Shepard Fairey is a renowned and respected street artist and graphic designer who got his start through skateboard designs. He is best known for his Andre The Giant “OBEY” art as well as his Barack Obama “HOPE” poster. His designs are not only found on the street but in advertisements, political campaigns, and album covers as well. Fairey is an artist, activist, and a DJ as well.

In 2010, the Contemporary Arts Center hosted the Shepard Fairey exhibition, Supply & Demand. To mark the occasion, Fairey and his team placed murals and painted images from Shepard Fairey’s popular work through-out Cincinnati. His work can be found in various neighborhoods around the city and in Northern Kentucky. While some of the art is painted on walls and billboards, a majority of the work is temporary but a lot of them can still be found around the city.

Click here for CAC’s, OBEY THE MAP! It shows every location of Shepard Fairey’s work.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anderson Ferry

Anderson Ferry has been in operation since 1817 and is the last operational ferry in Cincinnati. It was originally called the Kottmyer Ferry until it was sold to the Anderson family. The ferry is located 8 miles outside of downtown Cincinnati off of Route 50 on Anderson Ferry Road and connects the West side of Cincinnati to Route 8 in Northern Kentucky across the Ohio River. The ferry landing in Northern Kentucky is 3 miles north of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

There are three ferries in the fleet – Boone 7 which was built in 1937, Little Boone, and Deborah A. During the day you will see one boat in operation but during peak hours, two boats will run. Walking, biking, or driving, the ferry will take you across the river and while on the boat you can get out of your car and take in the sights.

Anderson Ferry
Anderson Ferry Road at Route 50, Riverside

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Mr. Tarbell Tips His Hat"

Jim Tarbell has done many things through out his career. As a restaurateur, he was once the owner of Arnold’s Bar and Grill and Grammer’s. He was also the owner of the famous Ludlow Garage. Jim Tarbell also served as a member of City Council and as Vice Mayor of Cincinnati. He has been a community activist and volunteer and is a resident of Over The Rhine. By mayoral proclamation, Tarbell has been given the title, “Mr. Cincinnati” for life.

As part of the Mural Works program by ArtWorks, a mural of Jim Tarbell was placed near the Gateway Quarter in his honor. The mural titled, "Mr. Tarbell Tips His Hat" is a painting of Jim Tarbell paying tribute to “Peanut Jim” Shelton, a Cincinnati fixture who sold peanuts on the street, at Crosley Field, and at Riverfront Stadium. Peanut Jim always wore a stovepipe hat and tails. Shelton sold peanuts well into his 90’s and was well known around Cincinnati.

"Mr. Tarbell Tips His Hat"
Corner of Central Parkway and Vine Street, Over The Rhine

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cincinnati Streetcar

Special note: Here at Queen City Tour we normally focus on all of the great sights currently around Cincinnati but feel that this future project is important to the accessibility, sustainability and livability of the city.

In 2008, Cincinnati City Council approved a plan to build a new streetcar system and by the end of 2010, the city secured all of the funding needed to complete a streetcar line stretching from the Central Business District downtown through Over The Rhine to the Uptown area around the University of Cincinnati. Due to state funding cuts, the first phase of the streetcar has been scaled back to include only the Central Business District and Over The Rhine with future phases covering the riverfront, Uptown, and outlying neighborhoods.

The streetcar between downtown and Over The Rhine will connect residents and visitors alike to many restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues in both areas of town with most attractions being within a block or two of a streetcar stop. It will reduce the amount of parking needed and will reduce congestion in these areas making them more accessible.

Starting downtown the streetcar will connect residents and visitors to Government Square on Fifth Street – the main transportation hub for Metro and TANK in the city. From Fifth Street the streetcar will travel up Walnut Street with stops near The Aronoff Center and The Public Library. It will then travel across Central Parkway with a stop near the Emery Theatre. From Central it will travel North on Race Street through Over The Rhine with a stop near Liberty Street and another near Findlay Market. It will turn on Henry Street and travel South on Elm Street with a stop near Henry, a stop at Findlay Market, Liberty Street, and Music Hall. The streetcar will then turn on Twelfth Street with a stop near Jackson Street and the Know Theatre and one on Main Street. Returning downtown there will be stops at the Hamilton County Courthouse, at Eighth Street, and in front of the Gwynne Building and will return to Fifth Street and Government Square.

The streetcar project will grow the urban core attracting more business and residents as well as create a vibrant downtown for everyone. It will also give everyone an easy way to tour this great city.

Construction on the streetcar is expected to start in the fall of 2011 and be up and running by 2013.

Cincinnati Streetcar
Coming soon to Cincinnati

Monday, May 2, 2011

Withrow High School

Construction of the high school began in 1915 but was halted due to the start of World War I. During the war, the completed building was going to be used as a hospital for wounded soldiers but the war ended before that happened. The high school was completed in 1919 and was named East High School. In 1924 the school became Withrow High School, named after Dr. John Withrow, the president of the school board.

The school was designed by Frederick W. Garber and is Colonial style architecture complete with an arching entry bridge and a 114 feet tall clock tower. There are motivational inscriptions along the entryways of the columned buildings and towers related to education. The school also features a large athletic complex complete with an 8,000-seat football stadium. The school is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Withrow High School
2520 Madison Road, Hyde Park

Sunday, May 1, 2011

DeSales Corner

What is now East Walnut Hills was originally settled in the early 1850’s by John Baker, who built a home for him and his son-in-law Samuel Keys. Baker, who made his fortune from lumber and mill working, purchased 35 acres of land and this land would later become the village of Woodburn in 1866. It was later annexed to Cincinnati in 1873 and became the neighborhood of East Walnut Hills.

DeSales Corner is part of the Woodburn Avenue Historic District. The district features many styles of architecture including Romantic style buildings as well as many unique shops, restaurants, and businesses. One example of the great architecture in the area is the San Marco Apartment building built in 1893 (shown above).

DeSales Corner
Madison and Woodburn Avenue, East Walnut Hills

Lunken Airport

Lunken Airport started in 1925 when Eshelby Lunken of the Grisard Company saw the advantages of having an airfield close to the city. The land that was purchased for the airfield was once the original Columbia settlement from 1788 and sits on the area known as Turkey Bottom. Lunken became Cincinnati’s first official airport and airmail flights started up here as well as commercial, military, and flight school operations. The Embry Riddle Company, which later became Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, got their start here as well as the Metal Aircraft Company, which built the Flamingo airplane here. It is also rumored that American Airlines first started operations here at Lunken.

The control tower at Lunken Airport is the oldest standing control tower in the United States. The main terminal is an Art Deco style building that was completed after the great flood of 1937. Over the years, the airport has seen many famous people such as Charles Lindbergh, The Beatles, and the President of the United States as well as the occasional landing of the Goodyear blimp for sporting events. On the grounds of the airport are an 18-hole golf course, a playground, and a hike/bike trail.

With the completion of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, commercial flights left Lunken field but the airport is still home to private, corporate, charter flights, helicopters, vintage aircraft, and flight schools. Each year, the airport hosts Lunken Aviation Days.

Lunken Airport
262 Wilmer Avenue, East End