The wildly successful Newport Gangster Tour started last summer during Italianfest. What was meant to be a one weekend event caught fire and ran all the way through Halloween with great crowds and even better stories about the history of Newport. While those tours continue through 2010, the group has expanded with a new Cincinnati walking tour called Queen City Underground through historic Over-the-Rhine that will begin this Memorial Day weekend.

UrbanCincy was invited along for a sneak peek this past weekend during the OTR Summer Celebration and we walked away very impressed. The Newport tour is full of great stories and is presented in a way that is not only educational but also fun, and the Queen City tour is much the same. We met in front of Mica 12/v and soon headed north along Vine Street. Asked to put our minds into the 1880s when Boss Cox was in power in Cincinnati, many stories were shared of theaters, saloons, and even “Murder College.”

While the tour stops along the way to point out different places of interest along with their accompanying stories, the thing that makes this tour a little different than the Newport companion is the chance to get into some of the buildings along the way. Without divulging all of the tour’s secrets, one of the highlights has to be the trip into what was the Kauffman Brewery in Guildhaus building on Vine, just north of Liberty Street. The Queen City Underground Tour really takes you underground here into the former lagering cellars that were rediscovered not that long ago and are usually only open to the public during the popular (and always sold out) Prohibition Resistance Tours during Bockfest.

Queen City Underground photography by Travis Estell

The Queen City Underground walking tours last approximately 90 minutes, and present a great way to get to know the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The total trek is just over one-mile with some tight spots along the way as you head into the cellars, so it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes if you are interested in attending. Tours taking place this Memorial Day weekend include the following times:

  • Saturday May 29th – 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, & 4:30pm
  • Sunday May 30th – 12:30pm, 2:30pm, & 4:30pm
  • Monday May 31st – 12:30pm & 2:30pm

Tickets for this coming weekend are $15 and can be purchased (cash only) upon arrival. A good reminder too is that both the Newport and Cincinnati tours have charitable benefits as well. With the help of these fundraisers, many Northern Kentucky students are able to go to Jamaica and help those less fortunate.

Either tour makes for a great compliment to Taste of Cincinnati which is this weekend. We recommend spending time sampling some local food and getting to know more about the wonderful history in Cincinnati’s dynamic urban core.