This statement—and my attempt to answer it—may seem vague and ubiquitous. Alas, here I am, and here I try to hone in on why, exactly, I love The Queen City and all its lovely nuances.
Architecture. You’d be hard pressed to find better architecture in a concentrated area like you can in Cincinnati. Oh, you like the Painted Ladies on Full House? Neat, we’ve got one of the largest collections of Painted Lady architecture in Columbia Tusculum. Next? So you like brownstones in New York and Chicago? Great, there are hoards of row houses by way of Italianate architecture in the world’s largest collection of Italianate work located where? You guessed it: Cincinnati. In addition to the intricacies and craft featured in Painted Ladies and Italianate architecture, Cincinnatians are fortunate to have a plethora of Art Deco, Victorian, Greek Revival, and Romanesque architecture swarming our cityscape. The most dramatic, and probably the most notorious architecture the city has to offer is probably the juxtapositioning of the Cincinnati skyline, which is positively breath-taking, especially when it comes to view after a long drive home on I-75 North in Northern Kentucky.
Education. The Queen City is home to two of the country’s top 50 public high schools: Wyoming High School, and Cincinnati Public’s Walnut Hills (side note: Walnut Hills, Wyoming, and Indian Hill High School rank numbers 1–3 as Ohio’s top-rated public high schools). And, this would not be a Cincinnati post without mentioning that Nick Lachey and Sarah Jessica Parker graduated from what was once MTV’s feature school: the School for Creative and Performing Arts. As far as major universities are concerned, we all know that University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are known country-wide, especially as witnessed during the all-out brawl during the heated Crosstown Shootout just a few years ago. The Crosstown Brawl aside, UC is home to DAAP, one of America’s most prestigious 4-year university art schools (ranked #3 internationally). Conversely, Xavier University annually takes its place among the country’s best MBA programs in the country, while it was also “ranked 4th among 142 Midwest colleges and universities by US News & World Report for its 2013 edition of America’s Best Colleges report,” according to Wikipedia. (Editor’s Note: it is also #4 on usnews.com for 2014.)
Sports. Home to two professional sports teams and a multitude of semi-pro and collegiate athletic teams, Cincinnati doesn’t fall any kind of short in this category. Arguably the city’s most popular team (this is a “Baseball Town” remember?), the Reds enjoyed record-breaking attendance numbers last year; the Bengals continue struggle to succeed attendance-wise, no thanks to its current and seemingly permanent owner—still drawing huge crowds at Paul Brown Stadium and home alike; the Cyclones feature fantastic promotions and have won two Kelly Cups in the past 5 years; Xavier and UC provide a number of sporting events to attend; there is even the Cincinnati Roller Girls, which is growing tenfold in popularity over the past couple of years.
Livability. Cincinnati, as I’m sure you know, revels in its relatively low cost of living and, as incomes remain largely the same, costs of living and the cost of, well, everything is seemingly rising everywhere. Therefore, Cincinnati has made its name as one of the up-and-coming regions in the country feasibly and pretty dang inexpensively. Not to mention that Cincinnati is home to the largest amount of fortune 500 companies per capita.
Parks, Green Spaces, and Amusement. The Greater Cincinnati area enjoys a multitude of parks thanks to the Hamilton County Park District as well as Cincinnati Parks (most notably Sharon Woods, Winton Woods, Washington Park, and Ault Park); rolling hills and vast cityscapes; also the Cincinnati Zoo, King’s Island, Coney Island, and bustling Fountain Square.
Trends. While it may not be on par with New York or San Francisco (or any coastal metropolises for that matter), Cincinnati still enjoys the fruits of what these juggernauts bring to the table. A number of trendy eateries/gastropubs, breweries/drinkeries, retail stores, pop-up shops, food trucks, and urban flea markets have planted their seeds intermittently throughout the greater Cincinnati area. The best thing about these trends? We don’t have to live in a city of 5+ million to enjoy them.
Traditions, Festivals, Music, and Music Festivals. We have our German heritage, Oktoberfest, Taste of Cincinnati, the Reds Opening Day Parade, MidPoint Music Festival, Bunbury Music Festival, WEBN Fireworks, and are considered the birthplace of many music legends, including: Bootsy Collins, Hi-Tek, Over the Rhine, Walk the Moon, The National, 98 Degrees, L.A. Reid, and Doris Day. (Yes, 98 Degrees is legendary.)
The Food. Whether you love it or you hate it, Cincinnati is home to its own style of chili and, more importantly, goetta. Skyline gets all the love as far as chili is concerned, but there are a number of other places where Cincinnati-style chili is available (Gold Star, Price Hill Chili, Empress Chili, Camp Washington Chili, and Dixie Chili to name a few). LaRosa’s gets a lot of love too, even if there is a lot of flack given as well. Personally, I don’t find LaRosa’s pizza to be the best around (I like it, though, and will absolutely eat it), but there are so many other things on the menu that are even better. I won’t pretend that LaRosa’s masquerades as an authentic Italian eatery, but it does A-okay in my book as Americanized Italian. There is, however, a lot of great ‘za in the area: Italianette, Lucy Blue’s, NYPD, Brooklyn Pizza, Mac’s, and Adriatico’s. I think it’s quite clear that, according to my Tour de Cincinnati generally, and this post about the Cincinnati Core Four, you know how I feel about the cuisine this great city has to offer.
The Arts. Did you know that Cincinnati is one of only 13 cities in the US that enjoys ALL FIVE of the arts? That is the ballet, art museums, the symphony, musical theatre, and stage theatre. As merely the 65th “largest” city in the United States, that’s pretty impressive.
I could go on and on about everything The Queen City has to offer. And next time you want to tell me that there’s nothing to do in this city, I’m not hearing it: If you feel like there is nothing to do in Cincinnati, that is more of a testament to you and your unwillingness to get out and experience things than it is a reflection of what there actually is to do here.