CPA to lead walking tour of Cincinnati Streetcar route this Saturday

At one point in Cincinnati’s history, the city had the largest electrified transit network of any city its size in North America. A good deal of that network consisted of 220 miles of streetcars running all throughout the city, and now city leaders are working to introduce a modern streetcar system in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) would like to show off the proposed modern streetcar route to those interested, and discuss the positive impacts such a system would have on the city’s historic building stock.

“The city’s core neighborhoods developed along transit lines,” said Margo Warminski, Preservation Director, CPA. “They have the urbanity and great buildings people are looking for in cities today.”


Artist rendition of modern streetcar on Race Street in Over-the-Rhine.

Warminski says that at the recently held Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit speaker after speaker said the same thing about the important value of walkability and access to transit to improve neighborhoods. And the CPA believes that projects like the Cincinnati Streetcar help to promote that vision, while also presenting exciting revitalization opportunities.

“Over-the-Rhine has seen a lot of new investment in recent years, but it still has hundreds of vacant, condemned and blighted buildings at-risk of demolition,” Warminski explained. “While no one project can transform a neighborhood, people are already buying buildings and opening businesses along the proposed streetcar route.”

Those interested in participating in CPA’s Walk the Streetcar Route, can do so on Saturday, April 30 from 9:30am to 12pm. Margo Warminski will lead the walking tour, which will meet at Vine Street and Central Parkway (map), and show off the development opportunities present along the Cincinnati Streetcar route through Over-the-Rhine.

A $5 donation is appreciated, and go towards supporting CPA’s advocacy and outreach efforts that include the Gamble House, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Oakley Train Station, Village of Greenhills, monthly educational programs and other projects.

  • Aaron Watkins

    I hope everyone can make the walk up to CUF.

  • @Aaron Watkins: This is a walk along the proposed streetcar route through Over-the-Rhien only. The purpose is to highlight the opportunities for preservation, along the line, through one of the nation’s largest and most significant historic districts.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Does this not include the blighted historic structures ascending the Vine Street hill? I would be remised to say that these are any less important to the fabric of our city, especially when considering neighborhood connectivity. I suppose I’m just expressing my personal angst in regards to the budget cuts. In my humble opinion, I see the streetcar having more value in connecting uptown and OTR than connecting OTR to the Banks, it is easy to get around downtown once you are in the basin.

  • @Aaron Watkins: I do not think anyone is saying that. It is my understanding that the walk is to highlight the aforementioned opportunities, while also keeping the walking tour a reasonable distance.

    I highly doubt many senior citizens would be able to walk the entire streetcar route, and I would also say that many people (of all ages and health conditions) would not be willing to walk the entire streetcar route from the central riverfront and up the hill into uptown.

  • Aaron Watkins

    @Randy A. Simes: I understand and appreciate this walk, and comparing the value of the buildings in OTR to those on Vine Street hill is apples to apples. For one, they are very near each other, and also, they are both important to preserving our historic downtown. I simply feel frustration, for it appears that the city has quit considering the uptown route under the current budget. This is often a place I come to find answers, I hope that eventually my question of “Is the city still considering an uptown route in leu of recent budget cuts?” might get answered in this public forum.

    To your point
    “I highly doubt many senior citizens would be able to walk the entire streetcar route, and I would also say that many people (of all ages and health conditions) would not be willing to walk the entire streetcar route from the central riverfront and up the hill into uptown.”

    I agree, I usually don’t walk that distance, and especially not up the hill. But I would say that I would rather walk from 3rd to Findlay than from Findlay to Calhoun St.

  • I think you and I are talking about different things. You seem to want me to address the streetcar’s recent budget setbacks and what those might mean for the Uptown Connection. All I have been talking about is this walking tour, and to that end, you seem to already understand why the tour wouldn’t extend up the Vine Street hill.

    As for the question you want to have answered, I can’t speak on behalf of city leaders, but here goes…

    The Cincinnati Streetcar has lost $51.8 million in state funding. This leaves the project with $104 million worth of funding. The original Phase 1A (Downtown/OTR Circulator) costs $102 million. The original Phase 1B (later added to 1A), Uptown Connection, costs an additional $25 million or so. So when dealing with a $24 million budget gap, it seems to make most sense to deliver the same quality project, but shorten the route and put off the additional $25 million leg.

    Whether City leaders will use this logic is beyond my level of knowledge, but this does not mean City leaders don’t want to see the Uptown Connection happen. In fact, City leaders have very much shown interest in building that portion (so much that they accelerated its development until just recently when the funding was yanked away). If City leaders are able to secure an additional $24 million in funding, then I am sure you will see the first phase of the streetcar include the Uptown Connection you and so many others would like.

    There are certainly tremendous opportunities that present themselves when connecting downtown with uptown via a modern streetcar, but the reality is that the money isn’t there to do that right now. I hope this addresses your question.

  • Aaron Watkins

    @ Randy A. Simes: I am just curious and concerned, I’m not asking you to re-write your article. Unfortunately I have yet to find the appropriate place to get these sorts of ambiguous questions answered. I read this blog daily in search of those answers. My apologies if I have agitated you. And your assessment is similar to my own assumptions. Looks like we’re on the same page here.

  • Not agitated at all. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. At first I thought you were criticizing the walking tour for not going up the Vine Street hill, then after you commented more it appeared like you were actually considered with what might happen with the Uptown Connection and not the tour at all.

    This tour has no affiliation with the Cincinnati Streetcar project other than it is walking along its proposed route through Over-the-Rhine.

    I think lots of people would like to have your questions answered, but right now those answers are not there. City leaders had secured the funding to build a central riverfront to uptown streetcar route up until the other week. Now they don’t. How they will proceed with less funding is unknown to me, but it does appear like they will continue with the $104 million in funding that they still have.

  • Bungle

    I was very sad to hear about the death of the streetcar. It was such a kind and gentle concept. I remember when I saw it on fountain square. It seems like yesterday. I can’t make the funeral procession on Saturday but please extend my sincerest of condolences to Chris Bortz.

  • Sorry to burst your bubble, Bungle, but the Cincinnati Streetcar is not dead. Not by a long shot. Unless, of course, you don’t consider $104 million to be much remaining funding.

  • Margo

    Aaron–We are planning to walk up Vine St hill to Inwood Park, so part of Mt. Auburn and CUF will be included. We’ll pass many blighted structures and vacant lots, as well as buildings with great potential. We’re basically following the route of the old Vine St. Cable Railway.

  • Marshal

    Randy, I’m pretty sure Bungle is just a COAST troll. They couldn’t share but a handful of IP addresses. Just delete them.