Cincinnati is a true river town and the Ohio River is truly the economic lifeblood of the city that lead to the formation of this vibrant city nicknamed “the Queen City.” One can frequently see coal barges going down the river (and empty barges headed back up to transport another shipment). The poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow exemplifies some of these ideas and it is displayed here in Fountain Square ( on the appropriately named Vine Street).
Fountain Square is a great center of communal activity.
The Cincinnati Reds play at the Great American Ballpark and the riverboat motif is seen very prominently in the architecture and most of the seats give the spectators a lovely view of the river as the backdrop to the action on the diamond.
This statue of Abraham Lincoln was a jarring discovery for me. I’ve researched public monuments and statues in Mexico City before, so this particular monument was such an outlier, because it does not make him look stronger, handsomer or more charming than he was in life. He isn’t portrayed as his youthful self, but care worn and bedraggled, presumably from the Civil War. This isn’t a monument to the 16th president of United States, the man who held the Union intact. This is one of the rare monuments that does not honor the nation or the community–it’s a monument to the man himself.
Also along the River is the Cincinnati Bicentennial Commons with this fabulous monument by Andrew Leicester which has displays the Ohio River and puts Cincinnati within it’s broader geographic context as a part of the greater Ohio River Valley.
On top of the monument you can see a replica of the Ohio River, winding through giving visitors a fantastic geography lesson.
I especially loved finding the Cincinnati Bell building, with it’s neo-classical architecture it’s a fantastic example of early twentieth century modernity and cosmopolitanism. Notice the repeating relief sculptures of telephones that were carved into the limestone frieze; this is the key to what I love about this building. Everything about the architecture was designed to put modern greatness following in the amazing tradition of ancient civilizations (that’s the core ideological rationale for neo-classicalism). This may have worked in the 1930’s, but today that style of phone belongs in a museum and appears hopelessly outdated. The message of timeless greatness crumbles with an outdated visual symbol that no longer represents technological innovation. This locks the building firmly in the past and today this building is a part of the National Registry of Historic Places.