PHOTOS: The Impressive Impact of Smale Riverfront Park

There are dozens of development projects underway at any given time, but few have the opportunity to make a truly transformative impact. Smale Riverfront Park is one of those rare exceptions.

As UrbanCincy has chronicled in the past, the changes that have taken place along Cincinnati’s central riverfront over the past two decades have been truly remarkable. The consolidation and burial of Fort Washington Way. The construction of two behemoth stadiums, a world class museum and an entire new neighborhood. And now the opening up of the Ohio River through the redesigned riverbank and park.

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What was once an asphalt riverfront separated from the rest of the city by an inhospitable highway now the region’s central gathering place for tourists and a destination for everyone in the region looking to the river that gave the city its birth. The changes are breathtakingly wonderful.

Of course, there is nothing better than images to help visual such changes. Instead of posting photos of what the area was once like, as we have in the past, this collection of photos are from that past few weeks at Smale Riverfront Park’s latest addition, and its immediate surroundings.

Projects like this and Washington Park, which is currently hosting thousands of thrilled Cincinnatians as part of this year’s Lumenocity event, are the types of investments and projects that change a city. What’s even better is that they’re accessible to everyone.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 20 photographs were taken by Eric Anspach in July 2015.

  • Brian Boland

    Drove by on Sunday evening to see what the two new cranes were doing digging holes in the parking lot next to Paul Brown Stadium. What I saw when I glanced toward small park was truly amazing: fairly late on a Sunday evening the park was full (and I mean FULL) of people. Families, adults, people sitting on the swings, people taking pictures next to the fountains. It was a sight to see, and it showed just how much of a success this park is.

    • I see a lot of activity in the park almost every day as I head home from work. There were even quite a lot of people in the park and The Banks during lunchtime last Friday, and definitely not all downtown workers.

  • Hear, hear UrbanCincy! It’s not the mega-projects that draw new residents and visitors. It’s the food trucks. It’s the non-chain restaurants and unique watering-holes, the one-of-a-kind doughnut shop on Vine with a line out the front door. It’s the common spaces that pull us together. It’s the ice cream. It’s the events on Fountain Square where we can meet people who are nothing like us. It’s the green. It’s the art. It’s the imagination that is us.

    • Placemaking! And speaking of ice cream for the love of god will someone park an ice cream truck close to the swings? You can’t have swings without ice cream, it just isn’t right.

  • Eddie Davis

    I work on the banks for the county, formally worked at the Freedom Center for 10 years, I have had the pleasure of seeing the entire city transform. I love downtown from the 1215 coffee lab on vine to Smale Park to the Horseshoe Casino oh, not to mention the food!!! I am happy to be and have been part of the new Cincinnati. As one Blogger mentioned the cranes in lot D across from the carousel, its the start of Phase 3, with more exciting things to come..yep even more park!! Stay tuned

  • charles ross

    Love the park, and it’s a regional draw. Can’t wait till we can bike to the Mill Creek. One interesting side effect that I think is shaping up is that it makes Covington that much more attractive for residents. Covington is super close to downtown and the Banks, maybe closer than most Cincy neighborhoods. Put your shirt on Covington, company’s coming!

  • Adam M. Singhoff

    Any update on the potential boat slips?