Traffic revisited ten years later in Cincinnati

The last major motion picture to be filmed in Cincinnati was the 2000 box office hit Traffic which highlighted America’s relationship with drugs.  In the movie, a conservative politician from Cincinnati was appointed as U.S. Drug Czar all while his young daughter deals with a drug addiction of her own.  The wealthy politician, and his family, lived in the extraordinarily affluent Indian Hill neighborhood, and his daughter would travel into Cincinnati’s inner city to support her drug habits.

The movie focuses on the wide reach of drugs in contemporary American society and illustrates the role both wealthy and poor individuals play in the drug trade.  The movie portrayed the inner city as a place of decay where the dirty elements of the drug trade take place.

Filmmakers chose Over-the-Rhine because of its urban form and its state of decay that helped tell the story at the time the movie was filmed.  Since that time a dramatic revitalization has occurred throughout Cincinnati’s inner city that has included the renaissance taking place in Over-the-Rhine that has netted hundreds of new residents, dozens of new businesses, and plummeting crime rates.

Soapbox takes a look the locations used in Traffic ten years after the movie first entertained audiences.  The video, produced by 7/79 ltd, shows that most all of the locations have been rejuvenated over that time, and those involved with the film say that Over-the-Rhine continues to be a draw for filmmakers as it provides an affordable alternative to filming in New York while providing a similar urban form to use.

“A big part of their decision to come to Cincinnati was Over-the-Rhine.  They just fell in love with that whole area, and felt that it had a wealth of opportunities and architectural detail to offer the film,” said Deidre Costa, Location Manager for Traffic.  “I would say hands down that the biggest selling point of Cincinnati has been Over-the-Rhine.”

  • Allister Sears

    Great article. I actually made a point of watching traffic a few months back. I grew up in the suburbs when this came out and was a bit surprised how differently I viewed the Over the Rhine scenes now that I spend more time around downtown. (I had originally thought the scenes where Michael Douglas looks for his daughter were filmed in some off the beaten path section of OTR, not realizing it was right down Vine Street.)

    However, I was somewhat confused by what the location manager had to say about why the filmmakers chose OTR. For one thing, the film does the exact opposite of showcasing that neighborhood’s rich architecture. Also, according to the IMDB, the writer specifically chose OTR for those scenes because he thought it looked like a worse neighborhood than the worst parts of Louisville, KY, where he originally planned to set Michael Douglas’s storyline.

  • Ed

    The home is located on Edwards Rd. near Cincinnati Country Club in Hyde Park which is in the city limits of Cincinnati.

  • Thanks Ed.