On a Visual of Local History

King Gambrinus is European folk hero and beer aficionado – and traveled to Cincinnati on this mural … but who is he toasting?

Gambrinus

Many consider one of the cities leading ladies to be the Roebling Suspension Bridge (the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge)

Bridge

Cincinnati’s own Genius of Water is the one toasting King Gambrinus while she is leaning against the bridge – but they are actually toasting the city’s beer making tradition.

Bridge and Genius of Water

By 1850, Cincinnati’s population was over 20% German.

The wave of German immigrants into Cincinnati have given this area numerous traditions: such as Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (one of the Oktoberfests outside of Munich), Music Hall (an outstanding venue), and beer.

“Cincinnati is one of the great brewing centers of the continent…. The Cincinnati brewers fear no competition, because the excellence and fame of their brews create a demand for them even in cities whose brewers have a greater aggregate capital invested.” (Over the Rhine Historic Brewery District)

Cheers

Fertile farmland, excellent transportation options, and the German heritage fueled Cincinnati’s brewing industry.

Grain

The first brewery started in 1812, and grew to almost 40. By 1890, Cincinnati brewers production of 1.115 million barrels was the 3rd largest (per capita) in the country.

That’s 40 gallons (151.4 liters) per year for each person resident – including children.

Kettle

Cincinnati’s breweries and associated activities such as shipping, cooperage, malting, farming, and of course drinking; at one time was one of the largest industries in the city.

Ind Delivery

Beer gardens became social centers.

Beer Garden

Prohibition (11919) drove the brewers and the associated companies out of business. Although many of the buildings still stand today, outside of local craft brewers, Sam Adams is the only active brewer in this part of the city. On a wall outside the Adam’s facility  at 1625 Central Parkway, “Cheers to Cincy, Past and Present” celebrates Cincinnati’s brewery heritage.

Image from ArtWorks site, which is better than mine

Image from ArtWorks site, which is better than mine

PS: Another ArtWorks mural dedicated to beer in Cincinnati is about 10 blocks away.

Additional Information

On a Grand Hall

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With its face towering over a rejuvenated Washington Park in the historic Over the Rhine neighborhood just north of city center, Music Hall is a Cincinnati treasure. Recognized by the US Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark (December 1974),

Music Hall is a grand building with a central concert hall, a large ballroom that originally served as an exhibition center for automobile shows, garden shows, and even hosting sporting events. We love ballroom dance events in this venue. I introduced Music Hall in this June 2011 post.

From the first performance on May 14, 1878 (the opera, Alceste, and Beethoven’s Eroica symphony) to serving as the current home to the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Cincinnati Ballet, May Festival, and more, Music Hall remains the city’s cultural heart. Besides being one of America’s grand concert halls, it also has known as place haunted with ghosts – but friendly ghosts.

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One can view its majestic nature from across Washington Park. Is there any doubt that Cincinnati Germans love for music? Nonetheless, its highest peak is quirky.
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The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), the fifth oldest orchestra in the America, used a new summer event to welcome its new (13th) conductor, Louis Langrée – who joins the list of CSO Musical Directors as Leopold Stokowski, Max Rudolf, Thomas Shippers, Walter Suskind, Jesús López-Cobos, and Paavo Järvi.

  • The event: LumenoCity 2013
  • The place: Washington Park
  • The background and screen: Music Hall

Enjoy the Fourth Movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 from LumenoCity 2013, an event using Music Hall’s exterior as a backdrop for a concert also delivering a visual feast that is worth 10 minutes for those who like this sort of thing. Additional information related to this post is below the video.

Additional Information
For all the LumenoCity videos
More about Music Hall
A recent article from the Huffington Post about Music Hall and LumenoCity 2013
My post about historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood

On OTR

 

From the Cincinnati Enquirer 05 Apr 2014

From the Cincinnati Enquirer 05 Apr 2014

Italianate: An architectural style familiar to Cincinnatians; to me, this word means history, it means culture and the effect of row after row of rooftops overlooking the city. – David Falk, Cincinnati restaurateur, Huffington Post  

Over-the-Rhine (“über dem Rhein.” in German) is a Cincinnati neighborhood that got its name from the Germans that transformed the area in the mid-1800s from farms and gardens to a vibrant community. Its name came from the fact that residents had to cross the Miami-Erie Canal that separated the neighborhood from downtown. (Today, the former canal is Central Parkway, a large thoroughfare.)

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It was this wave of working-class German immigrants that brought Italianate architecture to Cincinnati. This scale-down version of Italian palaces met their needs because there were affordable to build on narrow lots.

At one time, more than 45,000 people lived in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), of which 75% were first or second generation German-Americans. Given the German culture’s love for beer, Cincinnati’s historic brewery district was born, which also employed thousands. OTR also became home to Cincinnati landmarks as Music Hall, Findlay Market, historic churches, Washington Park, Memorial Hall, and more.

DSC02008Many left the neighborhood due to the anti-German sentiment of World War I. Coupled that with Prohibition, OTR changed. Although many Appalachians became residents, the neighborhood remained vibrant. The 1960s brought interstates to urban areas, and OTR became flanked by I-75 and I-71. Suburbia began to grow, and the neighborhood’s demographics continued to change – eventually leaving this neighborhood to the poor.

DSC02047By 2000, the once-proud neighborhood was the poster for urban blight – deteriorating buildings, walls separating, broken windows, unsanitary living quarters, drugs, shootings, and high crime. With an average median income of $10,000 per household, OTR was also the home for many social agencies.

“One of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country” would be added to a neighborhood that in 1983 received distinction of a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places that has significance to other historic neighborhoods as in Savannah (Georgia), Charleston (South Carolina), the French Quarter (New Orleans), and Greenwich Village (New York City).

DSC02043In 2003, Cincinnati Center City Development Corp (3CDC) formed to transform the area. After all, the 360 acres of historic distinction was home to 943 buildings of Italianate architecture from the 19th century. Besides, given the historic distinction, tearing down buildings is not an option – so change became the order.

With 3CDC leading the charge, millions have been spent to rehabilitate the historic neighborhood to restore buildings, renovate Washington Park, improve streetscape, add green space, and develop DSC02050commercial space. Yes – OTR is rapidly changing. Suburban friends of ours recently purchased a building to rehabilitate into their future home.

Last October, a friend and I decided to walk around Over-the-Rhine. Transformation is evident by site of active construction workers and buildings are various stages of restoration. Mixed within the new, social agencies remain to care for the many that remain needy – causing me to wonder where they will go. Nonetheless, vibrancy is returning to this historical, once-vibrant neighborhood. After all, a Graeter’s has also arrived in OTR.

You (Cincinnati) are no longer that embarrassing girlfriend I don’t tell my friends about, insecure and self-conscious. You are alive and breathing in gasps of energy, and I scream my love for you from the Italianate rooftops. David Falk, Cincinnati restaurateur, Huffington Post

On a beautiful day, we walked a lot, saw a lot, and always felt safe. Enjoy the pictures of this historic Cincinnati neighborhood. Any thoughts?

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Additional References