Reclaiming our city from the mistakes of the past

Cincinnati, as well as, many other cities are spending billions of dollars to fix the mistakes made by misguided policy and investments of the past. Cincinnati actually fared better than many cities in this regard…protecting some of it’s urban gems (Over-the-Rhine) from the wrecking ball. Other areas weren’t as lucky (West End).

The Eisenhower Interstate System efficiently and brutally tore through the West End of Cincinnati; rendering a beauty like Crosley Field practically obsolete. It also ripped through a dense, diverse, urban neighborhood. The funny thing is that the two places that were Cincinnati’s points of entry to many immigrants were ruined for the sake of the interstate system and other ‘urban renewal’ projects. Immigrants would come in along the Ohio River and find jobs along it’s powerful economic riverbanks. Others would come in by train and pass through the mighty Union Terminal, find working class jobs in the West End and settle down.

Well we all know what those two key locations are like today, and we know what they were like in the past. A key issue however, is what they’ll be like in the future. The Banks and Cincinnati Riverfront Park are rebuilding a neighborhood creating a beautiful green space for Cincinnati. Different from the warehouses and docks that once existed, but overall a very nice alternative.

Now there is the often over looked West End…what about it. It seems to be sitting there with a whole lot of nothing going on. Sure there are some warehouses and distribution centers, sprinkle in a little residential here or there and you have it. If it weren’t for City West it would still be the massive symbol of ‘urban renewal’ that it is. But wait, don’t write it off quite yet. The Cincinnati Museum Center claims residence to the West End, as well as it’s rail yards. Quietly behind the scenes people have been working towards a high speed rail plan for Ohio. Combine this with the great success of the Museum Center and you have the potential for something great.

Flooded Walnut Street (1913)

The Gateway Park District is something that could end up being more important, more impactful and just more impressive than the highly touted Banks project. It has the ability to reclaim the West End from it’s ‘urban renewal’ blight and turn that area back into a main entry point for the Queen City. It will be interesting to watch this project proceed, but one thing is for sure…Cincinnati seems to be trying it’s best to reclaim our city from the mistakes of the past.