Finding Inspiration From Seoul For Cincinnati’s Public Staircases

ArtWorks has become well-known for its mural program. Over the past eight years, the program has created 90 murals that have added to the vibrancy of 36 city neighborhoods.

This year, however, ArtWorks started to branch out a bit more. In addition to 10 mural projects, they also installed more than 50 public art pieces throughout the city. Some were poetic, while others charming. Regardless of the project, they have always worked to actively engage young people in the city with the artist community.

The program’s impact on the visual appearance of the city cannot be overlooked. Public spaces have been dressed up and walls have been decorated in truly Cincinnati fashion. When considering one of Cincinnati’s most defining features – its hillsides – another opportunity seems to be sitting in waiting for future ArtWorks programs.

Over the years The Hillside Trust has worked to promote and preserve the city’s hillsides and the view sheds that they offer. At the same time, many of the city’s public staircases, which long served as a critical component of the sidewalk network, have fallen into disrepair. In many cases, due to either lack of maintenance or neighborhood distrust, public staircases have been closed off altogether.

This should not be the case.

One potential way to address this would be to focus an ArtWorks program on the city’s public staircases. Artists could be engaged to come up with creative mural designs for the stairs themselves, or perhaps suggest other installations. These could then be complimented by lighting installations that would not on

ly add an artistic touch after dusk, but also make the corridors safer for their users and the neighborhoods around them.

Seoul’s Ihwa neighborhood has done exactly this.

Set on the side of a steep hill leading to Seoul’s historic fortification wall, the neighborhood has seen many of its staircases painted, along with surrounding building walls, to create a truly unique environment. A variety of art installations were also undertaken in order to create an even more dynamic experience.

Today visitors flock to the area to view the murals and experience the other installations some 60 artists created in 2006 as part of Naksan Project. Due to this influx of people, small cafes, galleries and restaurants are now prevalent throughout the neighborhood.

While Cincinnati’s hillsides and surrounding neighborhoods present a different challenge than what exists in Ihwa, there are equal, yet different, opportunities that also exist.

Right now Cincinnati’s hillsides and their public staircases are mostly viewed as barriers and have been constrained to afterthoughts in the city’s public psyche. ArtWorks has changed the way we viewed vacant walls and barren streetscapes. Here’s hoping they can work similar magic on the city’s long-forgotten staircases.

Cincy Stories returns to MOTR on November 3rd

The bimonthly storytelling event Cincy Stories will be returning tomorrow evening to MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The series focuses on well-known public and community figures telling personal stories from their lives.


The November 3rd edition of Cincy Stories will feature:

  • Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Seelbach
  • Community Activist Jay Shifman
  • Mandy Smith, Pastor of University Christian Church
  • Desi Marie, “The Silent Poet”
  • Bonnie Meyer, Director of LGBTQ Programs & Services at NKU
  • Abdullah Powell, Creative Director of Elementz
  • Music from Andrea Bustin

Stop by MOTR Pub at 7 p.m., grab a drink, and enjoy some unique stories and live music.

You can hear several of the speakers from past Cincy Stories events on The UrbanCincy Podcast.

Angst Coffeehouse & Pub To Have Grand Opening in Walnut Hills on October 21

After some unexpected delays, Angst Coffeehouse & Pub is set to have a grand opening in Walnut Hills on Wednesday, October 21.

The owners started welcoming some initial customers a few weeks back as part of a soft opening, but now they are prepared to welcome the public with a grand opening celebration.

“We wanted to open ASAP after being delayed by contractor and inspection issues for about a year,” said owner Ron Ordoñez Reblando. Angst 2.0, as he refers to it, is the next generation for the establishment which first opened back in the 1990’s.

The opening comes after Angst became the first recipient of the THRIVE Grant, which was established to help spur new business investments in the Peeble’s Corner business district.

A board member of the Greater Cincinnati Independent Business Alliance, Ordoñez Reblando also says that the shop is representative of a larger movement to develop more locally owned, independent businesses. And he says that he is thrilled to open in the Walnut Hills neighborhood where he has been active as a volunteer for neighborhood clean-ups.

While the original Angst was located nearby in Mt. Auburn, Ordoñez Reblando says that he was impressed with everything that was happening in Walnut Hills; and, with the support of his friend Paul Meise, decided to move the operations to the historic neighborhood.

The location of Angst Coffeehouse & Pub is located within the Walnut Hills Community Entertainment District nearby Fireside Pizza, thus enabling them easier access to a liquor license. But first and foremost, he says, the goal is to create a welcoming third place – somewhere people can be comfortable that is neither their home nor workplace – in the neighborhood.

Ordoñez Reblando is originally from Los Angeles after he and his parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when he was only nine years old. He has been in Cincinnati since 1993 after being hired by P&G from Yale University’s business school; and is hoping to bring his travels and experience to Angst’s menu.

“Our specialties are delicious carnitas tacos,” Ordoñez Reblando said in reference to LA’s popular street taco stands. “The type that I serve at Angst represents that style. We also created a version with melted cheese that adds to the umami flavor of the pork.”

Alongside the tacos Angst has a selection of local beers to pair with them. By choosing locally brewed beer, they hope to keep the money flow within the community. In addition to that, he highly recommends their house lime pineapple punch to go with the tacos.

Prices are set at a range that is meant to be affordable for a wide range of customers, and they offer a “Beer It Forward” system where neighbors can pay for each other. The way it works is that if you forgot your wallet or are short on cash, you can claim one of the tabs that has already been prepaid.

Angst Coffeehouse & Pub is located 2437 Gilbert Avenue and will host its grand opening party on Wednesday, October 21 from 6pm to 9pm, but will remain open until midnight.

CDCAGC To Host Bike+Bus Tour of Walnut Hills Area This Friday

Urban revitalization can often be a long, challenging process that is done building-by-building and block-by-block. As Cincinnati urban neighborhoods continue to revitalize, the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati (CDCAGC) has worked to showcase some of these successes with an annual bus tour.

This year the CDCAGC plans to showcase the work being done in the Walnut Hills area.

With an increasing amount of attention and investment going toward the Walnut Hills area these days, it has become a showcase neighborhood for community development progress in Cincinnati.

Largely led by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, the neighborhood has hosted numerous events and activities to help rebuild and inject new life into the neighborhood by engaging its residents. Such activities have helped attract investment and revitalization.

Unlike previous years, this year’s bus tour will also include a biking component that will be led by UrbanCincy staff and representatives from the WHRF. Those on the tour will bike from east to west throughout the historic neighborhood.

Queen City Bike will also be on-hand to provide bicycle valet parking at various tour locations.

The tour will start at the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation’s office on McMillian Street this Friday at noon, and will include a stop at Kitchen 452 for lunch. Tickets can still be purchased on the CDCAGC website. Bring your bike, we hope to see you there!

Above: Video of last year’s tour of Northside and College Hill (provided)

Neighborhood Group Attempting To Establish Museum Focused on Over-the-Rhine

For those of us who worry that Over-the-Rhine is in the process of losing its history to a swarm of new development and residents who know little about the previous lives of the neighborhood, there is a new group, of which I am part, which is working to address that very issue.

The impetus behind the Over-the-Rhine Museum, which is still in its formation stage, is to create a space where people can come to “discover and interpret the history of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood from its earliest inception through to the present.”

The goal is to accomplish this by using the stories of real people who have lived in specific buildings in OTR to show how the neighborhood has changed over time.

The museum plans to share not only stories of the neighborhood’s celebrated German heritage, but also stories of the Appalachian and African American residents that have helped to define the neighborhood more recently – creating a comprehensive history of the neighborhood over the past century and a half.

The Over-the-Rhine Museum group is in the early stages of forming and is basing itself on the model used by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City, which is located in another neighborhood with a strong immigrant influence that has changed dramatically over time.

While the Over-the-Rhine Museum does not yet have a physical location, the plan is to establish a pop-up museum in the near future, with the exhibits based on the specific space where the pop-up will be held. Any historic building in OTR can fit the bill for the pop-up space or the permanent museum because, as founding member Anne Steinert says, “all of these buildings have stories to tell.”

Those interested in getting involved with the effort, or simply learning more, can participate in a walking tour of historic tenement buildings around Findlay Market on Sunday, October 4. Tickets for the OTR Tenement Walking Tour cost $10 and can be purchased online.

Group organizers say that they are also planning to host a storytelling event over the winter. Additional questions regarding how to get involved can be directed at