Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Over-the-Rhine - Part 2

Over-the-Rhine - Part 1 (October 7, 2013)

In the summer of 1989, I lived on West McMicken Avenue in Cincinnati.  W.Mc. is a main street through the Over-the-Rhine district until it crosses Vine Street and becomes East McMicken.  I lived on the fringe of this part of the city where this street intersects West McMillan Street that leads up to the University of Cincinnati. 

I lived in a house with other male college students on summer break so I was both fearless and somewhat clueless about living in this sketchy part of town.  The rent was cheap and that was significant.  There was a local bar across the street named The Play Pen that the police visited often in the late hours and although my roommates heard gunshots in the evenings, I never did. 

These were the streets I was running.  Not too dangerous during the day
and it's easy to see that this area had potential.
In those days, I was a college rugby player.  I spent hours in the morning running the streets of the OTR and Clifton while I listened to my R.E.M. and Echo and the Bunnymen cassettes on my Walkman.  Even back then I had goals and dreams of buying and renovating run down properties so I saw the entire Over-the-Rhine part of the city as a neighborhood with tremendous potential.  Not only were these blocks loaded with solid, well-built brick buildings, but this area had unique history that included a time when Central Parkway was the Miami & Erie Canal that ran from the Ohio River up to the Great Lakes. 

The Canal that established the southern border of the Over-the-Rhine
before the Subway Tunnels and Central Parkway.
So as I ran those streets and trained for my sport, I fell in love with the Over-the-Rhine.  Now, years later I'm sad that we didn't get together.  I never got my chance to take on an old building in the OTR, but I enjoy checking in on the area from my home in South Carolina.  I'm excited that things are happening up there.  I'm happy for this special district and glad for Cincinnati.  Although I'm sorry to be missing out on the OTR revitalization, I'm excited to see it happening and envious of the developers, investors, and contractors that are there making it happen without me.

Over-the-Rhine today
My dreams have lead me away from The Queen City.  I'm reading the news of the progress happening in the OTR and now looking forward to the day I can visit to see how the area has been rediscovered.  And maybe, I'll be able to share this special neighborhood with my family someday down the road, and we can walk the streets admiring the architecture after lunch at the new Over-the-Rhine Skyline Chili.  I love and miss Cincinnati.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Over-the-Rhine - Part 1

As much as I love resurrecting an old house, I am equally passionate about saving old buildings of any type.  Embracing the structures that have stood the test of time has value.  Look at Fenway Park in Boston.  People travel to the northeast every season to see the city, sure, but they also want to watch the Red Sox play in their aged venue.  To many, being there, in that old place, is more significant than what's happening on the field. 

I feel the same about old schools, hospitals, churches, warehouses, and most anything that was built well and has withstood time and the wrath of Mother Nature.  The way I size these things up, if it's been around longer than me, than it needs to be rehabbed if possible.  There's so much history and character in our old buildings.  Tearing them down for something new and modern is cheaper and easier, but not always better.  It seems that the older I get, the more I say this, and the stronger my feelings become. 

I live outside of Charleston, South Carolina.  One of the things that factored into my relocation decision years back was that they appreciate old buildings here like I do.  People visit historic places like Charleston, Fenway, Savannah, Georgia, and the French Quarter of New Orleans because of their age and history.  Looking at my opinion while factoring in tourist dollars helps to make my point; it is worth it to save old buildings...spending money to make money.

A great picture of the front entrance of Fenway Park (by Gary Paul Smith)
Gary's Ballpark Blog
Charleston, South Carolina

Savannah, Georgia
The French Quarter of New Orleans
The Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati is special to me.  It's not as well known as the areas mentioned above, but I hope that in my lifetime it will be appreciated for what it was, what it is, and what it can be.

The Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati

Jump to Over-the-Rhine - Part 2 (October 23, 2013)

History of The Over-the-Rhine